Christmas Tree Worms

Ok, I know it’s not Christmas yet, but I thought these guys were just too cute to wait. The Spirobranchus giganteus, or the Christmas tree worm, lives on coral reefs in tropical oceans throughout the world. They anchor themselves down into crevices they’ve burrowed into the coral.  They are very shy and will retract into their burrows at the slightest perceived threat. Even a passing shadow can spook them, but they will usually pop back up slowly after a few minutes to test the waters.

33_01XmasTreeWormThey have tubular bodies and Christmas-tree-shaped crowns which serve as mouth appendages. They use them to catch plankton and other tiny edibles floating in the water. The food particles are then passed down a “food path” moved along by a water current created by tiny hair-like extensions.

Unlike real Christmas trees, they come in a variety of colors including white, blue, orange, and yellow. They are quite pretty and can live well in home aquariums.

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