worms text index | photo index
worms > Phylum Annelida > Class Polychaeta
Scale worms
awaiting identification
Family Polynoidae
updated Oct 2016

Where seen? These tiny short bristley worms with scales are sometimes seen under stones or other hidden places. Many are commensals, living together with sea stars, sand dollars, sea urchins, sea cucumbers and sea anemones. Thus, they are found in a wide variety of ecosystems but are often overlooked.

What is a scale worm? It is a segmented bristleworm belonging to the Family Polynoidae, Class Polychaeta, Phylum Annelida. The polychaetes include bristleworms, and Phylum Annelida includes the more familiar earthworm.

Features: About 1cm long. The worm is flat and broad with lots of short hairy bristles along its sides, and a pattern of overlapping scales the upper side of the body. It has a well developed head with relatively long tentacles. It creeps slowly by undulating its bristles.

Sometimes mistaken for a chiton, which is a mollusc with overlapping scales but lack the tentacles at the head and bristles along the side of the body.

What does it eat? These tiny carnivores feed on small prey such as crustaceans, echinderms, other polychaetes, and snails. They also feed on sponges and hydroids and may also scavenge.

Terumbu Hantu, Apr 12

Overlapping scales on the upperside.

Terumbu Hantu, Apr 12

Lots of short bristles on the body sides.

Well developed head with tentacles.

Scale worms on Singapore shores

Photos of Scale worms for free download from wildsingapore flickr

Distribution in Singapore on this wildsingapore flickr map

Pasir Ris Park, Oct 09
Photo shared by Loh Kok Sheng on his blog.

East Coast Park, Jun 11
Photo shared by Loh Kok Sheng on flickr.

Pulau Hantu, Jul 09
Photo shared by Loh Kok Sheng on flickr

Sentosa, Feb 10
Photo shared by Loh Kok Sheng on flickr.

Pulau Semakau, Jan 12
Photo shared by Loh Kok Sheng on flickr.

Terumbu Selegie, Jan 17
Photo shared by Loh Kok Sheng on facebook.

  • Jones, R.E. (Ed.) et al. 2000. Polychaetes and Allies: The Southern Synthesis Australian Biological Resources Study, Canberra. 465pp.
FREE photos of other worms. Make your own badge here.
links | references | about | email Ria
Spot errors? Have a question? Want to share your sightings? email Ria I'll be glad to hear from you!
wildfactsheets website©ria tan 2008