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What Eats Bristle Worms? (Ultimate List)

Although bristle worms do offer a number of benefits to your aquarium, most fish keepers often choose to remove them from their tanks. Removing bristle worms from your aquarium can actually be more difficult than many people initially realize though.

In our opinion, a bristle worm trap is going to be the best option for most people but we do see a large number of people asking what eats bristle worms as they look for a new addition to their tank to get their bristle worm population under control.

Due to seeing so many people reaching out to ask what eats bristle worms as well as having already published articles on baby bristle worms and how to deal with bristle worm stings, we decided to publish this article too.

Our hope is that we will be able to help as many of our readers add a suitable tank mate that will be able to eat the bristle worms in their tank to drastically reduce their population if that is the path that they choose.

We have tried to arrange our list in descending order of effectiveness of what will eat the most bristle worms to what will eat the least.

The entries higher in the list have a much better chance of being able to eat all of the bristle worms in your aquarium too rather than the entries at the bottom with our table of contents below helping you navigate the article.

Coral Banded Shrimp

Coral banded shrimp at the best option for anyone looking for something to eat the bristle worms in their tank.

Although relatively small, coral banded shrimp will eat huge amounts of bristle worm and often eat more bristle worm than the larger alternative bristle worm eaters while only taking up a small amount of space in your tank.

One of the best features of coral banded shrimp is that they will happily eat other worms in your aquarium too with them also being our number one recommendation for anyone who is looking to get rid of spionid worms in their tank too.

They coral banded shrimp can also be cheap enough for the majority of people to add multiple shrimp to their tank to quickly have them eat all of their bristle worms too.

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Some species of wrasse, particularly melanurus wrasse and six line wrasse can be an excellent option to take if you want to add something to your aquarium tank to eat your bristle worm population.

Not only will wrasse do a great job of eating the current bristle worms in your aquarium but some wrasse will often be able to also keep the eggs of the bristle worm under control too.

Many wrasse species are considered to be reef safe allowing you to keep them in reef tanks as a way to control your bristle worm population too pushing them ahead of some of the other popular bristle worm eaters.

Just keep in mind that not all wrasse species are reef safe so always do some research on the specific species of wrasse that you are considering adding to your tank.

Horseshoe Crabs

Some species of horseshoe crabs will eat large numbers of bristle worms and easily be able to get the bristle worm population in your aquarium under control quickly.

They are also considered to be a reef safe species too making them an ideal bristle worm eater for anyone who keeps a fully blown reef tank rather than a general saltwater tank too.

Some people don’t like the look of horseshoe crabs though putting many people off adding them to their tanks.

On top of that, some horseshoe crabs can be expensive and often require a larger aquarium size than the majority of people keep pushing them down the list of recommended bristle worm eaters.

Arrow Crabs

Arrow crabs will often eat large numbers of bristle worms in the tank that you place them in making them a great option to eat bristle worms in many aquarium setups.

If you have a general salt water tank then arrow crabs can be an excellent addition to your tank to eat your bristle worms but the problem is that they are not usually recommended for reef tanks.

This is due to some arrow crabs eating corals and anemones too with the majority of people who keep a reef tank wanting to avoid anything like this in their aquarium.

If you do have a reef tank rather than a general salt water tank then arrow crabs can still be an excellent option that will work well when it comes to eating bristle worms though.


Hawkfish can be a good option to eat bristle worms in your tank but they can be hit and miss with some hawkfish eating large numbers of bristle worms in your tank while others will pay them minimal attention.

There are theories that this depends on the specific species of bristle worm that you have in your tank as hawkfish may be more susceptible to bristle worm bites and stings than other bristle worm eaters.

Not many people realize that there are actually over 10,000 different species of bristle worm with some having a stronger bite and sting than others.

Hawkfish could be only wanting to eat a number of the species of bristle worm due to their stings but it could be something totally different altogether that we are no longer aware of.


The bright colors and beautiful look of dottyback make them a very popular fish and their bristle worm eating capabilities are often just a bonus.

Some people will intentionally add dottyback to their tank to only eat their bristle worms but the majority of people love the unique look of dottyback with some people often having them in their aquarium already.

If you do have dottyback in your aquarium already that are not eating your bristle worms then try to reduce their food sources for a couple of days.

It seems that dotty back at fish of habit and once they build up their feeding habits, they try to stick to them indefinitely even if other food sources such as bristle worms are available.

This is where cutting their other food sources back for a couple of days can encourage them to start eating the bristle worms in your tank.


That brings our article going over what eats bristle worms to a close. We hope that we have been able to help our readers better understand the best options to add to their tanks in various situations to eat the bristle worms in their aquariums. There is something for everyone in our list and you should easily be able to find something to meet your requirements for your budget and tank size with ease.