How to Get Rid of Tube Worms & Fish That Can Eat Them in a Reef Tank?

Owners of saltwater reef tanks will occasionally find themselves dealing with outbreaks of tube worms, vermetid snails, flatworms, bristle worms, and the like. We will teach you how to get rid of tube worms in reef tanks, as well as get rid of these other unwanted creatures.

How to get rid of worms in a reef tank?

Many saltwater reef tanks find themselves facing an outbreak of tubeworms time and again. What are these tube worms?

Tube worms are a type of annelid that form a leathery, flexible tube covering for themselves out of mud, sand, detritus, and shell fragments. You often see filters called crowns at the top of these tubes to bring in food for the worm.

You can try a few different methods to get rid of these tube worms. 

Superglue the top of their tubes shut so they cannot take in food. You can also remove its crown, but these can sometimes grow back. Taking the rock or coral they are on and cutting them off at the base is a great way to prevent an increase in water toxicity.

What fish eats tube worms in a reef tank?

You could also introduce several species of wrasses or a flame hawkfish to help eat these tubeworms. This is a good option because it does not involve toxins from dying worms getting into your tank water.

How to get rid of vermetid snails in a reef tank?

Like tube worms, vermetid snails form a tube-like shell. These tubes are made calcium carbonate and are much harder than the coverings of tube worms. These snails can sometimes seal themselves in with a plug.

There are several methods to help you get rid of vermetid snails. These include some aggressive options, removal options, and nuclear options.

The first way you can try to deal with your vermetid snails is to cut off their food source. You can locate your vermetid snails and use superglue to seal the exit from their tubes. You should be careful to watch closely because decaying snails can increase the water’s toxicity.

Another great way to get rid of vermetid snails is to take the rocks they are resting on out of the tank. You can then wash them in a solution of 10-20% hydrochloric acid (HCL) solution. This will kill the snails. You can soak the rocks for a few days if needed. Be careful when handling HCL.

You can also try to remove your vermetid snails manually. Take the coral they are on out of the tank, then use a bone cutter to cut the snail off at the base. Make sure you remove the base because if you leave this part the snail will still be alive.

An aggressive method you could try would be to use an ice pick to stab at the base of the tube to kill each vermetid snail. You want to do this after you have removed their rock or coral from the tank because this creates a lot of debris.

What fish, crabs and snails eats vermetid snails?

You can even try introducing natural predators. Some creatures that might eat your vermetid snails include Ornate Leopard Wrasses, Yellow Coris, Radiant Wrasse, Emerald Crabs, and Bumble Bee Snails.

If you still have trouble after using one of these methods, try implementing multiple tactics.

How to get rid of flatworms in reef tank?

Flatworms may appear on your coral. They feed on small things like rotifers and phytoplankton.

You can add some predators to your tank to help reduce their population. These include Six Line Wrasses, Leopard Wrasses, Target Mandarins, and Blue Damsels.

You can purchase poisons that only affect flatworms, such as Flatworm eXit. Unfortunately, you may not want to use this method because when the flatworms die their bodies release a toxin that can affect your other reef life.

Before you use any chemicals, remove as many flatworms as you can. You can use a flatworm vacuum to help suction them off of your corals and reef life. Use airline tubing to limit the amount of water you take out as you remove flatworms. Replace lost water with fresh saltwater.

Prior to adding the drops, prepare about half a tank’s worth of fresh saltwater and hook up a filter with granulated activated carbons. This will help pull out toxins after you treat the tank.

Add the chemicals to your tank as directed, about 1 drop per gallon of water in your tank. When the drops are added, the flatworms will come into the open and die. Vacuum them out as they appear to help keep the tank free of toxins.

Turn on your granulated activated carbon filter to remove any toxins. You can repeat this procedure one week later to get rid of any remaining flatworms.

How to get rid of bristle worms in a reef tank?

Bristle worms have hollow or barbed bristles on their bodies. Many are scavengers and feed on algae, plankton, and dead organisms.

Bristle worms may come into your tank when you introduce live rock. When you get live rock, watch for any bristle worms to appear and pluck them as close to the base as possible to get rid of them before adding the rock to your tank.

To get rid of bristle worms, you will want to set up a trap. There are two methods of trapping bristle worms.

Drill holes into a PVC pipe. Plug one end and place a piece of fresh shrimp inside, then plug the other end. Lay the pipe in your tank lengthwise. Overnight, the bristle worms should enter the PVC pipe and be unable to exit. In the morning, remove the pipe and unplug one end to dump them.

You can use a similar method of trapping them with a nylon stocking. Wrap food in the nylon stocking before laying it in your tank overnight. The worms will get stuck and you can take them out the next day.

Repeat these methods as needed until your population has dwindled.

What marine creatures can eat bristle worms?

If you need additional firepower, add a natural predator to your tank, like an arrow crab or some wrasses.

Keeping Your Tank Free of Pests

We hope some of the methods we supplied will help you free your tank from tube worms and other parasites. Try a combination of methods until your reef tank is free of unwanted inhabitants.

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