Bispira brunnea, the colonial tubeworm


Tubeworms originate from the Caribbeans and they are spread in the entire Caribbean Sea, including the Bahamas.


Bispira Brunnea forms clusters made up by many different individuals able to reach up to 20-30 centimeters in diameter. The sprawling crown of a single tubeworm is mainly of a pale brown color and it gets clearer towards the tentacle’s apex. Occasionally several brown-white chromatic variants can be found. The housing pipings have a diameter of 2-3 centimeters and are very flexible.


A single tubeworm reaches around 20 mm in length, its housing piping gets to 30 mm and the sprawling crown reaches a dimension of around 25 mm.


Bispira Brunnea lives between 5 and 18 meters deep (Humann, 1999) in reef areas with a weaker current.


The colonial tubeworm has a sprawling crown similar to that of a flower. Every “tentacle” features on its side countless ramifications endowed of extremely small bumps called lashes. These lashes, with their movement, generate water circulation, water that gets filtrated through this method in search of nourishing particles, sending them to tentacles and from here, through a scrolling system, towards the center of the sprawling crown. In tubeworms belonging to the Sabellidae family, of which Bispira Brunnea is also a part, this scrolling system is variably made up for transportation of nourishing particles of different sizes. Only the thinnest ones are absorbed from the very visible mobile parts in the center of the sprawling crown, while bigger compounds in suspension are rejected.

Aquarium maintenance

Bispira brunnea

Bispira Brunnea, in a common reef aquarium, is part of those invertebrates that are very difficult to maintain since the conditions for their nourishment are not sufficiently suitable. Frequent bothering caused by fish in search for food brings to a prolongued closing of the sprawling crown, reducing nourishment’s absorbtion, and even a double daily administration of a floating nourishing solution can provide the ideal nutritional density only for a short period of time. Worms, however, have the necessity of being able to feed themselves all day long with assimilable food, else they would end up malnourished and dead. A far too abundant water circulation can also reveal itself as detrimental, since it reduces the filtration process’s efficiency and therefore food absorbtion, in case of eccessive streams, is everything but optimal. The best solution for sustaining these animals consists in realizing a thematic aquarium containing only a few fishes. In such a tank the water treatment should not be very efficient through a skimmer or a filtrating system. A “refugee” would constitute a far more suitable environment for colonial worms instead of a reef aquarium.


Colonial tubeworms are quite timid, and they tend to retreat at the minimal nuisance, to reappear after a few minutes by slowly reopening the sprawling crown, reminiscing the opening of a flower.


Bispira Brunnea are able to reproduce sexually, but in the aquarium there is no tangible record stating this. Colonial worms are probably able to utilize asexual reproduction through pullulation, a circumstance happened in the aquarium in case of similar colony forming species, generating notable populations (Brachiomma curta or Bispira viola, for example). Therefore it can be supposed that Bispira Brunnea too under optimal circumstances, particularly in a nutritional sense, may be able to reproduce in the aquarium through vegetative ways.