Clams and bristle worms


New member
I am planning on adding at least one clam to our tank. My husband has read bristle worms are a predator. We have several red bristle worms in the tank-will these pose a problem to the clams? What is recommended for reducing the number of worms? Someone told me arrow crabs-will these bother the small feather dusters in the tank? Thanks for any info. Tammy
Hi Tammy,

Welcome to Reef Central!

We as hobbists are on a constant learning curve and with new ideas coming out all the time there is always a lot of outdated information hanging around that is pretty inaccurate.

Just a few years ago most people believed that bristle worms were very bad for a reef and for some reason the idea still persists, especially with clams. The fact is these worms just don't have the jaw structure to eat healthy flesh - corals or clams. They are experts at gumming rotting flesh though. This makes them ideal scavengers and very beneficial to a reef tank. They will take care of left over food, fish poo, dead and rotting critters, etc., things that would otherwise pollute our tanks.

I have five clams in my tank with literally hundreds of bristle worms and have never had a problem. I suspect the reason bristleworms have a bad reputation with clams is because clams often look great right up until they die. Then the reef keeper discovers what he thought was a healthy clam just yesterday is full of bristleworms and assumes they killed it. In fact the worms are just doing what they do best - ridding the tank of rotting flesh.
Thanks for the welcome and info. We didn't feel they were a problem since they've been living in the tank for years but then he read that bit of info. and wanted to make sure before I brought in some clams. thanks, Tammy