Friday Deep Sea Picture: Polychaete From Aquarium

The following polychaete worm, probably a Nereid, was found in our deep sea mussel tanks. Often times we will collect a bunch of mussels in a scoop which results in gathering some other rare deep sea creatures and their larvae. Our last collection of the mussel Bathymodiolus childressi from the Gulf of Mexico was in Fall of 2004, from a depth around 600 meters. This worm has been living in our aquaria for at least 4 years.

One interesting point is that these mussels have methanotrophic (“methane feeding”) bacteria in their gills. We only feed the aquaria methane, which is bubbled into seawater. This supports a whole microcosm in the aquarium including this worm and the mussels, but also several species of snail, shrimp and crab. I’ve even seen a nemertean and sipunculun worm in there!


Here is the anterior (head) portion. Notice the cirri and palps!


I took these pictures with a dissecting microscope under seawater with an Olympus digital camera through the trinocular.

7 Replies to “Friday Deep Sea Picture: Polychaete From Aquarium”

  1. clearly this is a case of spontaneous generation…do you really expect me to believe that such a creature avoided detection for 4 years!

  2. Phyllodocid? Oh Kev…. :) it’s a nereid and the “neck” is the peristomial segment. I can help if you want a species id.

  3. Leslie, That is weird. I even told people I worked with it was a nereid. I have it written down in my notes too. I did write the post around midnight last night…. But thanks for the clarification and I was definitely wrong about the caruncle, thanks. Polychaetes are definitely not my “specialty” (except for siboglinids and alvinellids) though I am fond of them.

    I think someone is looking at some preserved specimens of these guys and I am finishing my degree and moving in a month or 2 so I won’t be attempting anything beyond cursory looks at critters for a little while.

  4. Sounds like deep sea invert heaven!
    To think I spent the past week counting big ugly things with fins and backbones instead. Well, I also counted GOM shrimp, which outnumbered all the backboned things combined.

    Got any sipunculun photo’s to share?

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