When reef aquariums first became popular in North America, live rock brought with it a host of new issues. Various algae, snails, crabs, copepods and worms that stowed away on the rock soon began to appear in tanks, which caused concern among hobbyists. The first reaction was to either remove them immediately, lest they spoil the “garden” being created, or leave them be, only to find out later that some would become a problem by increasing in number (worms/copepods), eating some prized specimen (worms/crabs/nudibranchs) or overgrowing the rockwork and corals (algae). Few hobbyists had the expertise to distinguish the good from the bad, and more often than not erred on the side of caution and removed any extra critters crawling about the tank.
For further information on the biology of both large and small bristleworms, take a look at the following two online articles by Dr. Ron Shimek: www.reefkeeping.com/issues/2003-04/rs/index.php and www.reefkeeping.com/issues/2003-05/rs/index.php.
Want to read the full story? Pick up the November 2008 issue of Aquarium Fish International today.