Whenever most aquarists see that first dreaded bristleworm in their aquarium, they immediately run out for the nearest Dottyback or Sixline Wrasse or Arrow Crab or little plastic trap. There’s another, often overlooked, little critter that can help out even more than any of the “traditional” solutions – the Bumblebee Snail, Pusiostoma mendicaria.
Bumblebee Snails are flashy little snails, as saltwater snails go. They have solid black shells with thin yellow stripes and only grow to about one inch in length. Bumblebee Snails are more carnivorous than many other species and are known to feed on other snails, ornamental feather dusters or the occasional coral polyp if their supply of leftover foods, tiny crustaceans or small worms in the substrate grows too low. The risk is usually well outweighed by the benefits though to anyone with a bristleworm problem; A sturdy (nuisance level) bristleworm or flatworm population can keep several Bumblebee Snails well-fed enough to leave their tankmates alone as long as the population lasts. While Bumblebee Snails aren’t quite as proficient sand-sifters as the ever-popular Nassarius Snail, they do sort through the substrate and aquarium rockwork to find their food – the same places that the dreaded worms hide.
So, if you’ve tried the traditional solutions or want to cut a bristleworm or flatworm problem off before it starts, try adding a few Bumblebee Snails.
I have approx.1000 worms in my 100 gal.saltwater tank.I think they are brisle worms. Do you know anyone who has had that severe an infestation? If so, do you have recc. on removal? thx, Craig
Hi Craig, thanks for your comment. That isn’t an uncommon infestation. Bristleworms can multiply very fast and since they live in the substrate and rockwork where we can’t see them, the populations can get very high very fast. Adding some of their natural predators like Bumblebee Snails, an Arrow Crab, a Dottyback or a Sixline Wrasse or two will help control them. You’ll also want to make sure the tank isn’t getting over-fed since leftover food will just feed the worms and let them continue to multiply. Bristleworms are a nuisance and aren’t pretty to look at, but they aren’t really dangerous to the tank either so don’t panic if you cant get rid of all of them.
I had a bristleworm problem but the soon disappeared after I added a couple bumble bee snails. I didn’t think that they may have been the BW’s demise.
There is no love here for the lowly bristle worm! I thought they were kind of beneficial in taking care of detritus as long as they don’t get out of control. I like them and have never had a problem. I once had a fire worm the girth of a pencil and he was one of the most interesting “critters” in my tank!