Aeolosoma hemprichi is one of the most common species of microscopic ringworms that can be found in aquariums. It is a colorful and hardworking aquarium inhabitant, contributing to a clean environment.
What are Aeolosoma hemprichi?
Aeolosoma hemprichi are small worms belong to the Annelida (or ringworm) group and are among the leading species in terms of species diversity and functional role in biocenoses. They are 1.5 to 3 mm long and can be seen with the naked eye, but their true beauty can only be appreciated under the microscope, as you can see in the video above.
The systematic position of the family Aeolosomatidae, which includes the genus Aeolosoma sp., is not clear. Some taxonomists classify them as polychaetes, but the latest scientific data shows they are more closely related to the Oligochaeta.
Algae, detritus and fish waste products are an important food source for Aeolosoma sp., which is why they are often seen in specimens when performing microscopic diagnostics of fish feces. The spikey appearance of these worms can scare unacquainted aquarists into thinking they have encountered some sort of dangerous fish parasite, which they have not.
How to identify Aeolosoma hemprichi?
Aeolosoma hemprichi can be easily identified:
- The body of Aeolosoma hemprichi is translucent and segmented, consisting of 7 to 20 segments;
- Each segment bears four tufts of fine hair-like bristles;
- The cephalic lobe is dilated. On its underside there is a mouth opening, as you can see here;
- Characteristic skin glands with a beautiful orange, yellowish or brownish color are scattered throughout the body of the worm.
Aeolosoma hemprichi pose no danger to fish, shrimp and plants in the aquarium. While they fulfill the essential function of recycling fish feces and food debris in the aquarium, they themselves often are eaten by fry and by smaller fish species.
If you do want to reduce the number of these worms in the tank, do not use chemicals, but rather add fish that will eat them, for example Corydoras or other small fish.