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.