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The Feather Duster

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Reef Fish, the gems of the sea

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Whatever your degree of participation in this hobby, you will continue to find new challenges to spark your interest, capture your imagination, and stimulate your creative abilities. Wherever your particular field of interest may lie, you will always find in this hobby of ours, the wonders and beauties of life's creations.

All of us, as aquarium hobbyists, maintain our aquariums primarily for the aesthetic pleasure we derive from them. The scope of the hobby need be no wider than this simple pleasure and enjoyment. However, many are stimulated to study one or more particular facets of a specialized field such as ethnology, genetics, biology, or one of the other scientific pursuits. Whatever we do - however far we may travel in this hobby - we must always be concerned with conservation. Our primary goal should always be to return to nature something in return for the pleasures and benefits we have received. We should always remember to try to learn as much as possible and to record that information, not only for our own use, but for the benefit of others. We should learn to breed the species of fish we maintain so that we do not wantonly endanger the creatures of the rivers, lakes, and oceans by wantonly reducing their numbers until they are in danger of extinction.

We have the right to enjoy the life forms in our aquarium, but we have an obligation and a responsibility to sustain, protect, and conserve those creatures from which we have derived so much enjoyment."

When you think of your fish as a pet you'll agree, they deserve the best care an attention you can provide. A healthy aquarium is relatively easy to achieve and maintain, but it will not happen by itself... it depends on you.


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We provide information on Saltwater Fish and Inverts as well as Freshwater Fish and Plants; we have over 85 pages that serve over 38,000 people monthly. Hopefully, this club will become a source of aquatic inspiration for you.  

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"From the time you set up that first 10 gallon community tank it becomes a part of your life. And, as you progress in this hobby - as you grow, experience, and learn - it becomes a way of life.

Perhaps that 10 gallon community tank will be enough to satisfy your interests. Perhaps you will decide to specialize in one particular species of fish - learning everything you can possibly learn about that species, and attempt to breed them. Perhaps you will maintain a larger aquarium  or even get into the marine aquarium. "

When most of us started keeping aquariums, we went into the hobby blind. We read outdated books and listened to the self-serving advice from our local fish shops. Only after the death of many aquatic animals and the purchase of expensive, useless equipment did we accumulate the knowledge and skills necessary to successfully keep these creatures. As with anything, there are those who are in it purely for profit, with little regard for the environment. These people range from the collectors who still use cyanide to catch fish, even though it shortens the fish's life, to the retailers who will sell anything to anyone, no questions asked. Looking back on those years of “trial and error” aquarium keeping, I’ve often wondered why someone never guided people through the setup and maintenance of aquariums. Well, finally someone has.M

The Aquarium Club pages are much more than a place to see and learn about aquatic life. Our focus is on raising people's awareness of the environment through information and Internet links. Many hours are devoted to this website. The cost is extremely high to set up and to maintain the sixty plus sites that we operate. We have over two hundred members which depend on our help to maintain their aquariums. The club fees and the help of the members is extremely important to insure the work we are doing. Free advice is just that, it has little or no value.

Our interest extends beyond these pages, to promoting conservation and aquaculture research projects worldwide-from helping understand environmental changes, to saving the endangered reefs, and endangered species with captive bred freshwater and marine life.

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THE FEATHER DUSTER

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In the world of zoological taxonomy feather dusters, duster-cluster, bristle, fire, fan, tube...worms are grouped/placed in the Annelida, generally known as the "segmented worms", in reference to their metamerism or segmented appearance.

This segmentation allows for different types of locomotion, several environments. External and internal segmentation is obvious in the body, parapodia (lateral processes), nervous, muscular, excretory and circulatory systems arranged in repetitive placement.

There are three living Classes:

1) Oligochaeta, meaning "few bristles", the ubiquitous "earthworms" that indeed do have small body bristles.

2) Hirudinea, the leeches. All basically parasitic.

The above two are mostly freshwater and terrestrial and differ generally in basic ways in terms of internal anatomy, having permanent gonads...unlike the

3) Polychaeta ("many bristles"), some are downright prickly, are mainly marine. They have a head end (prostomium) with a typical sensory array of tentacles, papillae, eyes... and a posterior segment (pygidium). New sections are added right before the pygidium. What else? longitudinal muscled bands effect motion through contracting against a fluid filled body cavity (coelom). The digestive tract is a more or less straight tube running from the anterior mouth to the posterior anus. Most do have a "closed" circulatory system, blood and a "heart", an anterior dorsal ganglionic mass (brain), lateral nerves in each segment, blah, blah, blah. And they're neat! Some are big (larger than your hand, longer than your fish. And here, fellow pet-fish commandos, I must confess to a certain period of intransigency when even I lived on the public largesse. For a couple of years in grad. school I did "environmental" work sorting and identifying benthic marine invertebrates, principally polychaete worms. My dear cubicle mate actually had a beautiful graphic of a Glycerid polychaete worm with double everted jaws (shades of Aliens I and II & III), multiple eyes and specialized parapodia with a blasphemous label "God is a Polychaete!


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MARINE LIFE PROFILE:

FEATHERDUSTER WORM

Featherduster worms are polychaetes, marine relatives of the earthworm and members of the Phylum Annelida. These segmented worms secrete a leathery tube that supports and protects the soft body. Since they do not leave the tube and not highly mobile, they are called sedentary or tube worms. Like other segmented worms, they have long, cylindrical body that is divided into many similar sections called segments. Some structures, like muscles, kidneys, and nerves are repeated in each segment. The featherduster worm is classified as a polychaete or bristle worm because it has small bristles called setae along the sides of its body. The setae are usually part of the parapodia, paired appendages on each body segment. In more active worms, parapodia are used for crawling; in the featherduster worm, they are used to hold on to, and move up and down inside the tube.


Sea Worms

The sea worms are a large and varied group of animals belonging to a group called annelida. They are segmented worms, and all bear at least some resemblance to the common earthworm. In the ocean, however, the worms have evolved many different appearances. One of the more interesting varieties is the tube worms. These animals form a hard-shelled tube that provides them protection. The feather duster worms have a series of feathery tentacles on top that are used to filter nutrients from the water. When threatened by predators, they quickly withdraw deep into their tube homes. Another species, the Christmas tree worm, has a very ornate arrangement of feeding tentacles that can be found in a wide variety of bright colors. Some sea worms, such as the bristle worm, wander the sea floor with a covering of tiny bristles that can deliver a painful sting if threatened. The flatworms have flattened bodies and look more like chewing gum as they forage for food on the rocks.

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MARINE LIFE PROFILE:

FEATHERDUSTER WORM

Hawaiian name: kio po‘apo‘ai

Scientific name: Sabellastarte santijosephi

Distribution: Hawai‘i, Indo-Pacific

Size: body to 4 inches (13 cm) long, tentacle crown to 6 inches (15 cm) diameter

Diet: plankton, organic detritus

Featherduster worms are polychaetes, marine relatives of the earthworm and members of the Phylum Annelida. These segmented worms secrete a leathery tube that supports and protects the soft body. Since they do not leave the tube and not highly mobile, they are called sedentary or tube worms. Like other segmented worms, they have long, cylindrical body that is divided into many similar sections called segments. Some structures, like muscles, kidneys, and nerves are repeated in each segment. The featherduster worm is classified as a polychaete or bristle worm because it has small bristles called setae along the sides of its body. The setae are usually part of the parapodia, paired appendages on each body segment. In more active worms, parapodia are used for crawling; in the featherduster worm, they are used to hold on to, and move up and down inside the tube.

Featherduster worms, also called fan worms, are named for the highly-branched crown, or fan, of tentacles that extends from the protective tube. These tentacles extend from the head of the worm and are used in both oxygen uptake (respiration) and filter feeding. Fine side branches on the tentacles trap small particles of food drifting in the water currents. Large worms may have tentacles crowns spreading 6 inches (15 cm) across. The worms are sensitive to light, water motion, and touch, and can protect the delicate tentacles from potential predators by withdrawing rapidly into the protective tube. The worm produces the tube, secreting a leathery mucus from a collar-like structure at the base of the tentacles. Particles of sand and mud that are collected in the tentacles are incorporated into the tube.

Featherduster worms are common throughout the world in shallow water. In Hawai‘i, they are found on reef flats and in quiet bays and harbors, where there are hard surfaces to which they attach their tubes, as well as high concentrations of food particles in the water.

Classification:

Kingdom Animalia

Phylum Annelida

Class Polychaeta

Subclass Sedentaria

Family Sabellidae

Genus Sabellastarte

Species sanctijosephi


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