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Animals in Tubes

Tube worm colony
Closeup of Tube worm colony Tube worm colony A couple of Tube worms starting a colony Close up of tube worm opening. Notice head of animal in tube Close up of tube worm with head partially extented

Tube Snail (Serpulorbis squamigerus )

These animals have long tubes sometimes several inches in length. The tubes are light in color and can form colonies of multiple individuals. They tend to live in protected locations with high water flows. These animals are types of snails and are not worms.
Typical sand castle worm colony in protected high water flow area
Single Sand Castle worms attached to rocks. They usually settle next to other individuals but not always Large Sand Castle worm colony More examples of Sand Castle colony Sand Castle worms need plenty of sand and moving water Sand Castle worms compete with many other life forms for space

Sand Castle Worms (Phragmatopoma californica)

These animals are worms similar to the common garden worms. They build tubes made of sand that are glued together by special proteins. This glue is unique in that it hardens in water. These proteins are being studied for possible commercial use. These worms form large colonies and only live near areas where there is lots of sand and fast moving water.
Dodecaceria creates large colonies of animals.
The shells of the animals will fuse together creating a single, large structure

Other Tube Building Animals

One of the more common worms in this category is Dodecaceria fewkesi. These animals form large colonies that look like rocks with small holes. The shells or casings of the worms will fuse together forming a large coherent structure. They are filter feeders and use specialized appendages to capture plankton from the water flowing by.
Description – Worms in this sense means animals that have long cylindrical body forms that have some sort of hard outer shell or form of protection. Animals in this group are true works and other are related to snails (mollusks). The animals live in their shells or homes and extend feeding parts into the water to feed. They also live in very different areas in the tide pool location.

Feeding – Many of the worms, like animals in the tide pool environment, feed on small planktonic plants and animals suspended in the water. The tube worms will create a net made of mucus that traps the plankton as the water moves by. The mucus net is then moved to the mouth and eaten by the animal. Sand castle worms have special appendages they use to trap plankton as the water moves over the top of the animal.

Protection – These animals all make some sort of shell or covering as a form of protection. Tube worms make a hard outer shell similar to the shells of clams and mussels. Sand Castle worms on the other hand make their homes by gluing sand grains together to create a tube. Both the shells and the sand tubes provide some sort of protection from both the environment and predation.

Ecology – Tube worms like other mollusks have different life stages. They start out as eggs and morph into larvae that float in the water column. The larvae will then settle down on a preferred location. Sand castle worms are gregarious in that that will tend to settle next to other individual of the same species. This in turn creates large colonies with hundreds of animals. Tube worms are similar but the number of animals in the colonies is less.
Posted in Animals.

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