How to Get Rid of Tube Worms in Reef Tank {Top 4 Ways Explained}

Are tube worms present in your tank and you wish they weren’t?

What is the easiest and safest way to remove them?

In this article, we’ll discuss how you can get rid of tube worms in your reef tank.

How to Get Rid of Tube Worms in Reef Tank

You can break tube worms from their base. Other methods include supergluing their tubes shut or removing anything they are anchored to and washing them with 10-20% hydrochloric acid. Manual removal is safest and easiest method.

What Is A Tubeworm?

A tubeworm is appears to resemble a worm, but what you’re looking at is a sessile invertebrate. This living being is able to anchor itself in your reef tank.

It can attach itself to many areas and can go unnoticed. The tube worm has a mineral tube and withdraws its body into it.

This type of annelid that can grow up to 8 feet in the wild and live for over 200 years. They often have crowns at the top of the tubes.

How Do I Remove A Tubeworm From My Reef Tank?

There are multiple methods to remove tubeworms. The simplest form requires manually pulling the crown. You can get crafty and superglue the tubes shut. This way they will starve and die out.

If you see tubeworms on removable objects like rocks or coral, then take them out. Inspect the entire object and cut the tubeworms you see at the base.

You can cut their base as well while keeping your rocks and coral in the tank, but cutting and removing them could spike ammonia or water toxicity.

Are Tube Worms Plants or Animals?

A tube worm is not an animal or plant in the usual sense. This is a sessile invertebrate that resembles a worm with the tube it creates for protection.

The bacteria living inside tube worms work together with its host in a symbiotic relationship. They are organisms that feed off sugars produced by the gases available in your reef tank.

YouTube video

What Does a Tube Worm Eat?

You will not see your tube worm eating. Tube worms do not eat with a mouth and they do not have a stomach. There are millions of bacteria inside each tube worm.

These types of bacteria take in carbon dioxide, hydrogen sulfide and oxygen to produce sugars. The sugars become the food for tubeworms to survive for decades and over 200 years in the wild.

What Eats Tube Worms in a Reef Tank?

There are several types of fish and invertebrates that are witnessed munching on tube worms. Here is a list of some reef inhabitants that could help you reduce the amount of tube worms you see:

  • Flame Hawkfish
  • Copperbanded Butterfly
  • Yellow Coris Wrasse
  • Pencil Wrasse
  • Peppermint Shrimp
  • Dottyback Pseudochromis

The easier method would be to cut the tube worms at the base and remove them. Supergluing the tubes shut also works. Pulling out the crowns and letting your marine life that can fit it into their mouths will also try to eat it.

Which Methods Can I Use To Kill Tube Worms?

You might be looking for an aggressive method to cut off the nutrients for your tube worms. They are looking to pull in:

  • carbon dioxide
  • hydrogen sulfide
  • oxygen

4 Ways To Ged Rid Of Tube Worms

1. Superglue

These gases help the bacteria living inside tube worms to produce sugars to survive. If you want to stop tube worms from pulling in these gases, simply superglue the tubes shut. You can use putty as well.

2. Hydrochloric Acid

If you can remove the objects such as rock that your tube worms are anchored on, then you can wash them out with hydrochloric acid. Use 10-20% hydrochloric acid (HCL) solution to instantly kill your tube worms. Always rinse the rocks with water after using any chemicals.

The problem is that tube worms find areas and crevasses in your reef tank that are hard to spot or clean with this harmful solution that we don’t recommend putting into your reef tank.

3. Manual Removal

Take out a bone cutter, sharp scissors and wear gloves. Pull, scrape or cut the base of tube worms. If you don’t remove the base completely, the tube worms can grow back.

4. Stab It

You can get very aggressive and stab at the tubes. If you spread the pieces of tube worms around the tank, it may add to the toxicity in your reef tank and spread the bacteria within it around.

Are Tube Worms Harmful?

No. Tube worms shouldn’t impeded the growth of your corals. Corals can encrust over tube worms. Tube worms themselves will recede and hide into the darkest spots of a reef tank to not be noticed.

They can stabilize your rockwork as well by anchoring them and keeping them together. You do not have to remove tube worms. Make sure your corals are healthy and focus on managing them without worrying too much about tube worms.


If tube worms are broken off and their base is not scraped off, they can grow back again. Some wrasses and invertebrates like to eat tube worms as well. A tube worm is not looking to harm corals.

These sessile invertebrates are pulling gases from the water into their tubes for the bacteria living inside them to produce sugars to feed the tube worm itself. They can be attractive and welcome additions to some reef tanks or manually removed in others.


Thanks for visiting with your concerns or curiosity surrounding Tube worms. We have plenty more informative articles on sessile invertebrates other marine life that may also be of interest to you. See you soon!

Brian Arial

Brian Arial has kept fish for leisure and worked with fish stores for most of his life. He enjoys writing and caring for aquariums and ponds.

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