Thursday, May 24, 2007

Global Worming

I was staring into the Thunderdome (the name my tank acquired after the gut-wrenching loss of 2) recently when I observed an orange tentacle-like creature emerging from the bottom crevices of the live rock.

It looked like a monster R.L. Stine might dream up for his next horror novel. I watched transfixed as the creature began sweeping the live sand for detritus in a slow, hypnotic fashion. I had no idea this thing was lurking around my tank!

Night after night I would go home worried about the orange monstrosity living among my fish. Determined, I geared-up like John Matrix (Arnold Schwarzenegger) in the movie Commando, ready to “terminate” this beast using whatever means necessary.

I first attempted removal of the alien species using some slow-moving tweezer action. Unfortunately, the refraction of the water gave me the dexterity of a drunkard, so I was easily thwarted by the creature’s lightning-fast reflexes.

Defeated, I vowed I would one day return to stop the forces of evil.

My next attempt did not fair much better. I know the critter saw me staring into the tank because he attempted to hide from my scouring eyes. I decided “the heck with it” and lunged for him, like an outstretched ballplayer diving for a hard-to-reach play.

Close, but no cigar. No weird undersea organism, either.

I’d finally had enough and decided to contact a professional: a MarineDepot.com customer service representative. The CSR informed that my beastly invader was actually a bristle worm.

Ha! A puny worm?

I figured a more humane approach to simply crushing him would be to Google “bristle worm” and find out more about the little bugger. I discovered a ton of information and some conflicting views about my wormly visitor. Before I invested in a worm trap or some other, possibly useless paraphernalia, I decided to once again seek the advice of an expert.

The swami of saltwater said I shouldn’t believe everything I read on the Internet and that ‘ol wormy is actually good for my reef system. He taught me that small bristle worms help keep your tank clean by eating fish leftovers.

Like Stan and Kyle, I feel I learned something today. I learned that just because an animal may look ugly, as long as it stays hidden under a rock and cleans up after my fish, it will always have a home in my aquarium.