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Old 02-10-2006, 09:53 PM   #1
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Fireworm Infestation

Well, we were studying our poor feather duster and found about five fireworms slinking out of the lr. Yikes! Husband is trying to catch the darn things but thats a lot of fireworms and who knows how many more are in there. Any ideas on how to de-infest? Now I think I might have an idea of what is irritating my feather duster?
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Old 02-11-2006, 12:03 AM   #2
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Are you sure those are fireworms and not bristleworms??? Bristle worms are quite harmless but easily confused with fireworms. Bristle worms are more fleshy pink in color. Fireworms are more brilliantly colored and seem fatter and more attractive in appearance. The only time when bristleworms might become a problem (with coral) is if there isn't enough of their natural food which is the ditrius (however it's spelled) in the sandbed (all that nasty waste type stuff that brown in the sandbed). They are very beneficial for keeping that stuff cleaned from the sandbed.

If you still feel you have too many or if you are more sure of these being fireworms, you can try a worm trap (I believe Corallife have these) or an arrowcrab. If you have little fish, the arrowcrab may prey on them too if it's big enough, but they are excellent for removing the worms.

How is the feather duster acting that is bringing on concern? What type of fish do you have in there? What are the water parameters? How long has the tank been up and running with fish in it? How long have you had the feather duster?
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Old 02-11-2006, 02:14 PM   #3
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Actually, I not sure now at all. I've looked at so many pictures on the internet that fireworms and bristleworms are becoming indistinguishable to me.

The feather duster threw her crown day before yesterday and was moving in and out of the tube and spewing smokey webby stuff. We moved her over closer to a rock so she wouldn't be in the direct water flow and we haven't seen her since yesterday morning and the top of the tube seems to be kind of closing in. It really upsetting and I after spotting all the worms that came out I am just plain frustrated at this point. I also noticed that my little blue leg crabs would walk on the tube after I brought the fd home, maybe that is a factor as well?

We've had the tank for about four months or so. It's a 35 gal hex with lr, hotpink zoo frag, elephant mushroom, blue leg crabs, sandsifter starfish and two blue damsels.

Salinity: 1.025
pH: 8.2
ammonia: .5 ppm
nitrite: 0 ppm
nitrate: 20 ppm
alk: "normal"

That is all the tests I have for now.
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Old 02-11-2006, 02:19 PM   #4
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your ammonia should be 0.00 i would do a water change
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Old 02-11-2006, 02:23 PM   #5
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Actually, we just did a 10 gal water change last week, but I'll try that. What would you recommend as far as how much to change? Does Stresszyme work very well for ammonia?
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Old 02-11-2006, 02:57 PM   #6
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It's best not to move feather dusters if possible. Their casings are fragile to rips and tears. The head may actually anchor and rebuild a new body (weird I know).

Nitrates could use a lowering too. I like to keep nitrates no higher than 10ppm in a reef.

A 10% water change once a week as a regular routine would be good. What do you have as a filter? How many gallons is the tank and what fish are in there?

Reef hermits aren't interested in eating a feather duster unless it is sick, dead, or dying. The most they do to a healthy specimen is check it out for microorganisms on the duster and actually clean the worms. The body is probably no good anymore, but as said beofre...keep the head in there just in case it anchors to grow itself back. If it doesn't survive, the hermits will clean it up.

Stresszyme and any other bio specific for marine would help ease the ammonia levels and allow it to cycle through a bit faster.
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Old 02-12-2006, 03:36 PM   #7
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Thanks for all the info.

It's a 35gal hex with a protein skimmer, biowheel with no media and uv sterilizer - just two damsels other than reef, starfish, shrimp etc.

I've searched this all over the net and can't find anything... the lower half of the featherduster tube is covered in a clear gel type substance. Does this mean it's over for my fd?
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Old 02-12-2006, 09:12 PM   #8
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Interesting. I've never seen clear gel...usually just an empty casing. Don't really know what to tell you on something I've never seen myself. If ammonia isn't being affected you could observe. If ammonia is being affected, then take it out.

IMO, having a tank without media really dampens the amount of bio in the system. The substrate hold at least half the amount of bio a system can cultivate to maintain water quality. A ten gallon water change in a 35 is taking out a third of the tank each time and that can lead to stress. Marine animals are not adapted to withsatand sudden changes within their environments. Stability becomes very important in a closed system, which is the aquarium.

Get some substrate in there...perhaps at least 2" of aragonite topped with live sand. If you do 4" or more, you could cultivate denitrafying bacteria to control nitrates biologically...instead of vacuuming the bottom. In fact vacuuming is eliminated with a deep sand bed. Still need to do water changes, no more vacuuming. Without a substrate of anykind, your system may not be able to stay stable nor support what you want it to support because of the lack of bio space. Nitrates can easily get out of control without a substrate. With a DSB, the bristleworms actually become even more beneficial because they keep the substrate clean and turned. Critters moving within the sandbed releases gases taht build up and allows it to dissipate intot he atmosphere. The system gets a chance to experience a fully biological nitrogen cycle.
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We, as a people, know so much more about outer space than we do about our own oceans. This lack of knowledge can very well spell the dangers that lay in wait for us.

The oceans surely would swallow us before a rock comes down to smite the planet of it's life.
Nov/2004
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