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Seattle Aquarium Pacific Coral Reef

Peppering a colony of live Porites coral, these Indo-Pacific Christmas Tree Worms display a typical range of colors.

radioles of strikingly different colors growing side by side.

Spirobranchus giganteus occurs in both the Indo-Pacific be regarded as "corals" rather than as "worms" or "rocks" by and the Atlantic-Caribbean regions. Recognizing the source those responsible for their collection and shipment. (This of a particular specimen is simple, as there are apparently may result in better treatment, as Porites specimens are

Chapter Seven 185

shipped alongside, and from the same sources as, corals that have high survivability in the aquarium.) Because Porites grows rapidly under natural conditions, few other organisms besides it and Spirobranchus are present on these specimens.

The Atlantic-Caribbean subspecies ol Spirobranchus gi~ ganteus does not occur embedded in colonies of Porites coral in shallow, wave tossed-waters. In fact, while the worms are found scattered throughout the region (Kaplan, 1982), most specimens that are collected for the aquarium trade come from the middle Gulf of Mexico, miles from the nearest coral reef. The implications of this simple fact for the aquarium husbandry of these specimens are often overlooked. Further, unlike the Indo-Pacific specimens, worm rock from the Gulf harbors a wide variety of coralline algae and invertebrates — often in bright, attractive colors — in addition to the worms themselves.

Spirobranchus Giganteus

While many larger fish cannot resist these feathery radioles, Spirobranchus worms can do well with smaller reef species.

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