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6 Baby Bristle Worms Questions Answered!

Bristle worms are a controversial insect to have in your aquarium with some aquarium keepers intentionally adding bristle worms to their tanks due to bristle worms eating detritus and discarded food in your tank to keep water parameters in line with what you would expect.

On the flip side of that though, some people try to remove bristle worms from their aquariums when possible for a number of different reasons.

Just like all controversial species in aquarium keeping, we see a large number of different questions being asked about bristle worms with each month that goes by.

Over the last couple of months, we have noticed people specifically asking a number of questions about baby bristle worms so we wanted to publish an article going over the various questions that we have seen people asking about having baby bristle worms in their tanks.

Due to covering a number of different questions about having baby bristle worms in your aquarium, we have decided to add our table of contents to our article below.

It should allow you to quickly and easily navigate the article to get to any of the specific questions that you want answers to without having to skim over the full article.

What Does A Baby Bristle Worm Look Like?

A freshly hatched baby bristle worm will usually be all white and look like a tiny centipede.

Bristle worms do grow at a rapid pace though and they will quickly start to develop their color depending on the specific type of bristle worm that you have in your tank with a baby growing at a rapid pace.

A baby bristle worm looks so much like a small centipede that we actually posted a dedicated article going over “salt water centipedes” as we were seeing so many people reaching out and asking about them.

Although there are a number of other similar animals that can look like a water centipede, bristle worms are by far the most common salt water culprit making them easy to identify in your tank.

The more common bristle worm species will be yellow, orange, blue or green with their pigment starting to show on the baby bristle worms within a few days.

They really do grow at a rapid pace from day one though but they will usually hatch all around the same time resulting in 20-100 baby bristle worms all being in your tank at the same time if they are the result of a breeding pair.

“Bristle worm – Hermodice carunculata” by prilfish is licensed with CC BY 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit

Where Do You Buy Baby Bristle Worms?

You are able to purchase baby bristle worms in some fish stores as well as from various online retailers.

The majority of baby bristle worms are actually accidentally added to salt water tanks though rather than intentionally purchased as they are in new substrate, live plants, and rocks prior to adding them to your tank.

Depending on your location, getting your baby bristle worms on ebay may be the best option and it usually works out to be much cheaper than getting them from a pet store too.

This is definitely the most common way to get baby bristle worms if you are planning on intentionally adding them to your aquarium as a way to reduce the build up of detritus and algae.

Some people will use baby bristle worms as a food source for larger salt water fish in their tanks though but this can be hit and miss.

Some fish species tend to love bristle worms where as others will pay them no attention. Baby bristle worms do tend to be the more commonly used option for food too but just be sure you are not using a poisonous species of bristle worm as a food source.

How To Get Rid Of Baby Bristle Worms?

The best way to get rid of baby bristle worms in your tank is to use a bristle worm trap. There are a number of different designed but they are essentially a set and forget way to reliably catch a huge number of baby bristle worms in the shortest possible time frame.

In our opinion, you should be going with the Splash N color Bristle Worm Trap if you do want to start trapping the baby bristle worms that are in your tank.

Not only is it cheap and easy to use but it also has a great reputation amongst the aquarium keeping community for being able to reliably catch large numbers of baby bristle worms with ease.

As we touched on earlier in the article, some species of fish will happily eat baby bristle worms but this tends to be an unreliable method of getting rid of them from your tank.

Baby bristle worms quickly grow into adult bristle worms too resulting in fewer fish in your tank seeing them as a potential food source, especially if they are one of the poisonous bristle worm species.

Can You Breed Bristle Worms?

Some people will breed baby bristle worms to use them as a steady live food source for their fish but this does tend to be rare due to there being much better food sources available.

A pairing of bristle worms can result in anywhere between twenty and fifty babies too so your bristle worm population can quickly grow.

If you have adult bristle worms in your aquarium then there is a good chance that they will start breeding quickly anyway.

Their breeding behaviour is often mistaken for fishing but once bristle worms reach maturity, they will start to reproduce rapidly.

This is one of the main reasons that people try to remove bristle worms from their aquariums as quickly as possible using a Bristle Worm Trap.

If a single bristle worm has been accidentally added to your aquarium then you should not have this problem though.

Just keep in mind that if you have recently added new substrate, live plants or rocks to your tank then there may be multiple bristle worms in there if you notice one so they may start breeding soon resulting in a rapid increase in the baby bristle worms in your tank.

Will Fish Eat Baby Bristle Worms?

The fish species that will most commonly eat baby bristle worms are wrasse and hawkfish but a number of other fish species will often eat bristle worms, especially baby bristle worms.

You should not rely on the fish in your tank to control the baby bristle worm population though as even wrasse and hawkfish often prefer other food sources if possible.

The larger the fish species if, the higher the chance of it seeing a baby bristle worm as a potential food source though. You also have to factor in how well fed the fish are as well as if the bristle worm babies in your tank are from one of the poisonous species too.

Once bristle worms reach a certain age they will start to nip fish who are trying to eat them too and this will deter some fish species from eating them again in the future.

This is why it is usually a bad idea to rely on the fish in your tank to eat the baby bristle worms in your tank as it is an unreliable method of baby bristle worm population control.

Do You Have To Care For Bristle Worm Larvae?

Baby bristle worm larvae are hardy and will usually take care of themselves without you having to do anything to care for them.

Some of the animals you keep in your tanks will see the bristle worm larvae as a food source but other than that, they tend to quickly grow into adult bristle worms.

This can work to your advantage if you are wanting to use bristle worms as a way to control the build up of discarded food and detritus in your tank.

Some people don’t like to have bristle worms in their tank though due to their appearance and due to some types of bristle worm being poisonous.

In this situation, people will usually remove the bristle worm larvae but it tends to be impossible to tell if the bristle worm will be one of the poisonous species at the larvae or baby stage.

Once the pigment starts to develop on the bristle worm and its color sets in it does usually become much easier to tell the exact species of bristle worm that you have though.


That brings our article going over baby bristle worms to an end. We hope that we have been able to help our readers by going over the answers to the most commonly asked questions that we see time and time again about baby bristle worms. Just keep in mind that baby bristle worms quickly turn into adult bristle worms and then produce more babies so your bristle worm population can grow at a rapid pace if tank conditions are correct.