Bearded Firebrist Worm

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Bearded Firebrist Worm
Bearded fire bristle worm (Hermodice carunculata)

Bearded fire bristle worm ( Hermodice carunculata )

Class : Polychaete (Polychaeta)
Subclass : Aciculata
Order : Amphinomida
Family : Fire bristle worms (Amphinomidae)
Genre : Hermodice
Type : Bearded Firebrist Worm
Scientific name
Hermodice carunculata
( Pallas , 1766)
Supervision of a bearded fire bristle worm
Front view of Hermodice carunculata with erect bristles
A woolly crab eats a bearded fire bristle worm

The bearded fireworm ( Hermodice carunculata ), sometimes just fire worm called, is a representative of the class of polychaete ( Polychaeta ). It belongs to the freely moving species ( Errantia ) in the multi- bristle class. The worm owes its German name to the fact that its bristles ( chaetae ) break off easily when touched and release a poisonous secretion. If they penetrate the human skin, they produce a burning pain that can last for several days. This is also the case with other representatives of the multi- bristle family Amphinomidae .


The bearded fire bristle worm reaches a maximum length of 30 cm. The body can have over 100 segments. The color of the species ranges from greenish, brownish to reddish. The segment boundaries can be seen as light stripes. The mouth of the bearded fire worm is a trained Schaborgan, which is provided with sharp and protruding ridges.

The nuchal organ (caruncle) forms a noticeable bulge on and behind the prostomium .


For a long time Hermodice carunculata was the only species of the genus Hermodice . Their range was considered to be almost worldwide. The type specimen comes from the coast off Antigua , an island in the Lesser Antilles in the Caribbean . At the same time the occurrence of the species was also reported from the Mediterranean Sea and from the coasts of West Africa to the Canary Islands . In a more recent study from 2011, after precise morphological examinations of living specimens, distinguishing features between the Caribbean occurrence and the populations native to the Mediterranean and the eastern Atlantic were found. For the latter, the reintroduction of the species name Hermodice nigrolineata was proposed. This species name would apply to the entire population in the Mediterranean, including the particularly frequent occurrence in the Maltese archipelago , as well as the populations in the Eastern Atlantic. The finds from Hermodice reported from the Indo-Pacific belong on closer inspection to the related genus Pherecardia .


The bearded fire bristle worm lives on all hard floors such as rocky coasts and coral banks as well as between seagrass . It can be found in shallow water down to a depth of approx. 30 m. Specimens that come from depths of more than 100 m are likely to belong to other genera.


Hermodice carunculata is an active hunter and feeds on various invertebrates, such as hard corals , soft corals , cnidarians and crusty anemones . It is known that Hermodice carunculata as an active hunter and brittle stars and sea urchins attacks. However , it does not disdain carrion , and groups of these animals can often be seen eating carcasses of fish or other larger animals.


Despite its ability to defend itself , the bearded fire bristle worm has predators that do not mind the breaking off bristles, including woolly crabs ( Dromiidae , Pilumnidae ) and cone snails such as Conus cedonulli , its main enemy in Caribbean waters of Colombia, and Conus regius .


The temperature range of the water varies between 18 ° C and 26 ° C. Hermodice carunculata is hermaphrodite ., D. that is, both female and male genital organs are present in its segments. Hermodice carunculata is the carrier of a bacterium ( Vibrio shiloi ) that causes coral bleaching in hard corals . If the bacterium is transferred from the worm to the stony coral when it is eaten, white spots initially appear on the coral stock, whereupon it then completely bleaches out over a period of almost three weeks, after which the coral dies. However, the bacteria in the coral polyps can only survive at temperatures above 20 ° C. In the skin of the fireworm it can survive at temperatures below 20 ° C and then become active again on the corals when the temperature rises.


  • Amphibranchus occidentalis Kinberg, 1867
  • Amphinome didymobranchiata Baird, 1864
  • Aphrodita carunculata Pallas, 1766
  • Hermodice nigrolineata Baird, 1868
  • Millepeda marina amboinensis Seba in Audouin & Milne Edwards, 1833
  • Pleione carunculata (Pallas, 1766)
  • Terebella carunculata (Pallas, 1766)


The bearded fire bristle worm is easy to keep in the aquarium, but is considered a pest. Due to its size and feeding behavior, it is a threat to other aquarium inhabitants. It primarily eats cnidarians and other invertebrates, and can even eat brittle stars and other animals. Hermodice carunculata is nocturnal and diurnal, as it has hardly any predators to fear in the aquarium due to its defenselessness. The bearded fire bristle worm is often introduced unnoticed through live rock (corals). You should definitely try to remove it from the pool. Keeping them in a purely species tank is recommended because the worm can be fed accordingly. Care should be taken when cleaning the aquarium holder or when reaching into the tank, as the spines of the bearded fire bristle worm can easily penetrate the skin and lead to severe pain, often lasting several weeks. There are smaller types of bristle worms that are similar to young whiskers. However, these are not to be regarded as pests in the case of a small number , as they loosen the soil and devour leftover food and carcasses .

Individual evidence

  1. a b Arnd Rödinger: Hermodice carunculata. The walking pincushions. Atlantis Magazine, accessed July 5, 2013
  2. a b Beatriz Yáñez-Rivera, Sergio I. Salazar-Vallejo: Revision of Hermodice Kinberg, 1857 (Polychaeta: Amphinomidae). In: Scientia Marina. 75, No. 2, 2011, pp. 251-262, doi : 10.3989 / scimar.2011.75n2251 .
  3. ^ Wilfried Westheide : Amphinomida. In Westheide, Rieger (Hrsg.): Special zoology part 1: single-cell and invertebrate animals. Gustav Fischer Verlag, Stuttgart & Jena 1997, page 378.
  4. Matthias Bergbauer, Bernd Humberg: What lives in the Mediterranean? Franckh-Kosmos Verlags-GmbH & Co. KG, Stuttgart 2009, p. 138.
  5. ^ Lawson Wood: Sea Fishes and Invertebrates of Mediterranean Sea . New Holland Publishers Ltd., 2002, p. 54.
  6. David Touitou: The cone snail (Conus cedonulli, right) attacks a sea worm (Hermodice carunculata, left) in order to eat it. In: Robert Nordsieck: Cone snails (Conidae). The living world of molluscs. Retrieved December 9, 2012.
  7. Hermodice carunculata - Gusanos de fuego ( Memento of May 4, 2016 in the Internet Archive ). Néstor Núñez Acevedo,
  8. ^ Seashells Feeding Habits. Example of a vermivorous cone shell: Conus regius from Martinique attacking Hermodice carunculata., 2016.
  9. George J. Reclos: Hermodice carunculata ( Memento of the original from December 10, 2011 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was automatically inserted and not yet checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. MCH Portal, January 20, 2009, accessed on July 5, 2013 @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  10. M. Sussman, Y. Loya, M. Fine, E. Rosenberg: The marine fireworm Hermodice carunculata is a winter reservoir and spring-summer vector for the coral-bleaching pathogen Vibrio shiloi. In: Environmental Microbiology. 5, No. 4, 2003, pp. 250-255, doi : 10.1046 / j.1462-2920.2003.00424.x .
  11. Hermodice carunculata - Bearded Firebrist Worm . Sea water encyclopedia, accessed July 5, 2013


  • Matthias Bergbauer, Bernd Humberg: What lives in the Mediterranean? Franckh-Kosmos Verlags-GmbH & Co. KG, Stuttgart 2009, ISBN 978-3-440-11736-1 .
  • Angelo Mojetta: Middellandse Zee - gids voor het leven onder water . Zuid Boekprodukties, 1997.
  • Arnd Rödiger: diving guide Malta . Verlag Stephanie Naglschmid, 3rd edition, Stuttgart 1994, ISBN 978-3-927-91375-2 .
  • Lawson Wood: Sea Fishes and Invertebrates of Mediterranean Sea . New Holland Publishers Ltd., 2002, ISBN 978-1-843-30104-2 .
  • Lawson Wood: The Dive Sites of Malta, Comino and Gozo. New Holland Publishers Ltd., 1999, ISBN 978-1-859-74041-5 .

Web links

Commons : Hermodice carunculata  - collection of images, videos and audio files