tiki Ryan Photographic - Serpulidae - Calcareous tube fan worms


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Family Serpulidae

The Serpulidae differ from other polychaete families in that they build tubes of calcium carbonate into which they withdraw at any sign of trouble. For further protection they pull an operculum (trap door) after them which seals the tube. The family contains around 350 species in 66 genera (if I have counted correctly - you can check for yourself here).

Serpulids are found in all the world's oceans. They feed and carry out gas exchange by projecting their typically twin-spiralled crown into the water. They are somewhat similar to the sabellids but can be distinguished by their calcium carbonate tubes and operculum.

Serpulids are economically important because their calcareous tubes foul ships and water intake pipes.

As with the sabellids most of these identifications are tentative. Any corrections are welcomed.


Plume worm

Plume worm, Raja Ampat, West Papua IMG_2266

Plume worm, Raja Ampat, West Papua IMG_2266

Plume worm, Raja Ampat, West Papua IMG_2267

Plume worm, Raja Ampat, West Papua IMG_2267


Protula species plume worm

Protula species plume  worm 2

Protula species plume worm 2

Protula species  plume  worm

Protula species plume worm


Protula bispiralis Magnificent plume worm

Protula bispiralis (magnifica) Magnificent tube worm Puerto Galera, Philippines IMG_7408

Protula bispiralis (magnifica) Magnificent tube worm Puerto Galera, Philippines IMG_7408

Protula bispiralis (magnifica) Magnificent tube worm, Puerto Galera, Philippines f2048771072

Protula bispiralis (magnifica) Magnificent tube worm, Puerto Galera, Philippines f2048771072

Protula bispiralis (magnifica) Magnificent tube worm, Puerto Galera, Philippines IMG_4903

Protula bispiralis (magnifica) Magnificent tube worm, Puerto Galera, Philippines IMG_4903


Serpulid worms

Serpulid worms, Raja Ampat, West Papua IMG_1246

Serpulid worms, Raja Ampat, West Papua IMG_1246. If you look closely you can see the feeding fans at the end of the calcareous tubes in some individuals.

Serpulid worms, Raja Ampat, West Papua IMG_1247

Serpulid worms, Raja Ampat, West Papua IMG_1247

Serpulid worms, Raja Ampat, West Papua IMG_1337

Serpulid worms, Raja Ampat, West Papua IMG_1337

Serpulid worms, Raja Ampat, West Papua IMG_1912

Serpulid worms, Raja Ampat, West Papua IMG_1912


Spirobranchus cariniferus Blue tube worm

Spirobranchus cariniferus Wellington aquarium EPV0015

Spirobranchus cariniferus Blue tube worm. Wellington aquarium EPV0015


Spirobranchus giganteus Christmas tree worm

Spirobranchus giganteus Christmas tree worm, Paradise Taveuni, Fiji IMG_9789

Spirobranchus giganteus Christmas tree worm, Paradise Taveuni, Fiji IMG_9789. It is believed that this is a species complex with perhaps as many as 10 species involved.

Spirobranchus giganteus Christmas tree worms Raja Ampat IMG_9606

Spirobranchus giganteus Christmas tree worms Raja Ampat IMG_9606

Spirobranchus giganteus Christmas tree worm apricot

Spirobranchus giganteus Christmas tree worm apricot morph

Spirobranchus giganteus Christmas tree worm Raja Ampat IMG_9678

Spirobranchus giganteus Christmas tree worm Raja Ampat IMG_9678

Spirobranchus giganteus Christmas tree worm speckled

Spirobranchus giganteus Christmas tree worm speckled

Spirobranchus giganteus Christmas tree worm variegated

Spirobranchus giganteus Christmas tree worm variegated 2

Spirobranchus giganteus Christmas tree worm variegated 3

Spirobranchus giganteus Christmas tree worm variegated 3

Spirobranchus giganteus Christmas tree worm white blue

Spirobranchus giganteus Christmas tree worm white blue

Spirobranchus giganteus Christmas tree worm yellow variegated closeup

Spirobranchus giganteus Christmas tree worm yellow variegated closeup

Spirobranchus giganteus Christmas tree worm yellow variegated red

Spirobranchus giganteus Christmas tree worm yellow variegated red

Spirobranchus giganteus Christmas tree worm yellow

Spirobranchus giganteus Christmas tree worm yellowish

Spirobranchus giganteus Puerto Galera, Philippines IMG_5882

Spirobranchus giganteus Puerto Galera, Philippines IMG_5882

Spirobranchus giganteus Raja Ampat IMG_9564

Spirobranchus giganteus Raja Ampat IMG_9564

Spirobranchus giganteus Raja Ampat IMG_9564

Spirobranchus giganteus, Fiji

Spirobranchus giganteus, large group, Raja Ampat, West Papua IMG_3155

Spirobranchus giganteus, large group, Raja Ampat, West Papua IMG_3155

Spirobranchus giganteus, Orange Christmas tree worm, Taveuni, Fiji-5026

Spirobranchus giganteus, Orange Christmas tree worm, Taveuni, Fiji-5026

Spirobranchus giganteus, Orange Christmas tree worm, Taveuni, Fiji-5027

Spirobranchus giganteus, Orange Christmas tree worm, Taveuni, Fiji-5027

Spirobranchus giganteus, Raja Ampat, West Papua IMG_3156

Spirobranchus giganteus, group, Raja Ampat, West Papua IMG_3156

Spirobranchus giganteus, Raja Ampat, West Papua IMG_3208

Spirobranchus giganteus, Raja Ampat, West Papua IMG_3208


Spirobranchus giganteus (grandis) Christmas tree worm

Spirobranchus grandis Christmas tree worm 2 Belize

Spirobranchus giganteus (grandis) Christmas tree worm 2 Belize. Once called S. grandis this is now considered to be the same species as S. giganteus.

Spirobranchus grandis Christmas tree worm Belize

Spirobranchus giganteus (grandis) Christmas tree worm Belize

Spirobranchus grandis Christmas Tree worm, Roatan IMG_3169

Spirobranchus grandis Christmas Tree worm, Roatan IMG_3169


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