How Do You Get Rid of Medusa Worms?

The best way to get rid of Medusa Worms from your tank, without disturbing any other part of the ecosystem, is to physically pluck each individual out of the tank. For smaller ones, it is recommended that you use a turkey baster to carefully remove them from the surface they are stuck to.

For larger ones, you can use a pair of tweezers. Although this is a laborious task, it saves you from having to move all of your other fish to another tank. 

Answering “How to get rid of Medusa Worms?” is a difficult task but not impossible. Getting them out of your tank is challenging because they have very fragile bodies and are likely to break if handled too roughly. If this should happen, then they can release toxins that are present in their bodies, potentially killing the other inhabitants of your tank. 

If you do accidentally break one, you must act quickly and change a large percentage of the water in the tank as fast as possible. This should hopefully negate the worst effects of the toxins that were released. In addition, you should also run a protein skimmer and use activated carbon, which should reduce the potency of the toxins.  

Another way of eradicating Medusa Worms is to introduce one of the species’ natural predators to the tank. These include pufferfish, wrasses, hermit crabs or triggerfish, each of which will happily get rid of them for you.

However, if you are considering this option, you would need to think about the effect that the introduction of this predator will have on your tank as a whole, as it may attack or distress other occupants of your tank. 

The other drawback of this method is that you are not guaranteed to be rid of 100% of the worms in your tank. Buying a new specific predator for your tank can also be expensive depending on the fish or invertebrate that you choose. 

Why do people buy Medusa Worms? 

Medusa Worms have sometimes been praised as occupants of hobbyist’s seawater fish tanks, as they are known to clean their environment by feeding on the debris and particulate matter which can build up in some tanks. By many, they are considered a harmless organism that does not have much impact on the health of the tank and is not known to damage coral in any way.

What is a Medusa Worm? 

The Medusa Worm is in fact not a worm at all but a type of legless sea cucumber. They belong to the Echinoderm family, which are a group of marine animals which include starfish, sea urchins, and sand dollars. Medusa Worms or Synaptids to give them their scientific name, are indigenous to the coral reefs of the Caribbean and Indo-Pacific.

There are a variety of species that fall into the Medusa Worm category, each of which has highly specific feeding requirements, which is why it can be difficult to keep one alive in a tank for very long unless you are confident identifying the exact type that you have and what it feeds on.  

Synaptids are described as ‘legless’ because they do not possess ‘tube feet’, a biological feature that appears on other echinoderms such as starfish.

They are usually found in large numbers on the bottom of the seafloor or clinging to a variety of reefs.

What do Medusa Worms look like?

As the name suggests, these tubular creatures resemble worms with long soft bodies which are usually tan or brown in colour. Their bodies are covered in sticky cells which allow them to adhere quite stubbornly to a range of surfaces, such as coral reefs or tank glass. 

Although they start their lives off as very small creatures, not much longer than a fingernail, some species in the wild can grow up to 6 feet in length. Their specific shape and reduced skeletal system are designed to allow them to burrow into undersea sediment, similar to the action of earthworms.

Their heads are characterized by a collection of tentacles that search the environment for edible nutrients in the water and then reach back into the mouth of the organism.

This flailing collection of slim tentacles is where the Medusa Worm gets its name, as they look similar to the snakes which encircle the monstrous Gorgon from Greek mythology.  

Are Medusa Worms dangerous?

The problems with Medusa Worms stem from the variety of toxic chemicals which can be produced from the organism’s skin and body. These chemicals are part of the Medusa Worm’s defence mechanisms to prevent it from being eaten in the wild by predators such as fish, crabs and lobsters. 

When the Medusa Worm is stressed by a predator or injured in any way, these toxins are released and can prove deadly to many other marine organisms, including large fish.  This problem can be made worse if the population of Medusa Worms is very high in any tank. 

An additional complication is that if conditions are ideal for these creatures, they can multiply rapidly and leave little space for much else. 

What should I buy instead of a Medusa Worm to clean my tank?

If you were thinking of buying a Medusa Worm but are worried about its potential toxicity, other options are available. For saltwater, one of the best cleaning species to invest in is the Hermit Crab. Hermit Crabs graze on a mixture of algae and uneaten fish food and keep the bottom of a tank clean with their constant search for food.

You will have to provide homes for these animals, however, as they require different size shells to move into as they grow. It is recommended that you introduce approximately five to any regular sized tank. These crabs are cheap and easily found at most fish shops. 

One of the best looking and most effective tank cleaners on the market for freshwater environments, on the other hand, is the Albino Rainbow Shark

Despite its name, the Rainbow Shark is actually a small scavenger fish that cleans your tank by eating excess food and other debris which gets caught in the small spaces between coral structures or other features in your tank. These fish can be quite territorial and aggressive, however, so you should only introduce one to your tank at a time to prevent acrimony.