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Common Name: Red Tubeworm

Scientific Name: Serpula vermicularis

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Annelida

Class: Polychaeta

Order: Sabellida

Family: Serpulidae

Genus: Serpula

Species: S. vermicularis


The red tubeworm is actually very small in size. Its length goes about up to 10.2 centimeters or usually between five to seven centimeters. Its coloration varies: some are pink and orange or red with white bands. Some are pale yellow. Its tube is a pinkish sort of color with a hint of white also. Some adaptations red tubeworms have is that their tubes actually form together on a small reef. Also, they like warm waters, not cold, even though they live on the ocean floor. Red tubeworms consist of 200 segments, or repeating body parts, and 70 tentacles. They, of course, live in water, specifically ocean floors. They do well in their ecosystem, the hot vent they live upon keeps water at a moderate temperature. Most red tubeworms live on the northwest coast of Scotland and the northeast coast of England. Others may live on the northwest coast of Ireland and much of the Britain coast.


Although scientists can’t really specify how many red tubeworms exist, some have experimented on twenty-nine red tubeworms. So for sure, there are more than twenty-nine existing red tubeworms. No one really knows for sure if their population is in fact, growing or shrinking. Since red tubeworms mainly consume bacteria, I assume that they are just herbivores or producers of the oceanic food web. It is in my opinion that the heat from the boiling vents surrounding the red tubeworms allows them to consume bacteria without much disturbance. Competitors include other organisms that consume bacteria and are also bottom dwellers. Unfortunately, like most organisms, the red tubeworms do in fact have predators. These predators include the Goldsinny and Corkwing wrasse, which are fish. But to evade being eaten, the chitin that red tubeworms have is too tough to chew. Not to mention that red tubeworms have the ability to hide in their plumes when a predator is lurking. Interesting facts about the Serpula vermicularis, are that red tubeworms can actually only live for up to about a few days when they are separated from their original habitat.


Their habitat is the ocean floor and hot sea vents. In conclusion, I have learned that even though there isn’t much to know about red tubeworms, they are pretty interesting. The fact that they can hide in their plumes is pretty amazing. Also, the live mainly in European coasts and seem to be comfortable in hot temperatures. Mainly, they feed on bacteria but are still hunted. Even though they look like ocean plants, it is hard to believe that they belong in kingdom Animalia.


Author: Amanda A

Published: 2/2008


Sources: Photo Credit: Nicolle Rager Fuller, National Science Foundation

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