The Coco Worm, also known as the Protula Tubeworm or the Hard Tubeworm, is part of a family generally referred to as Feather Duster worms. They get their name from their feeding filters, also known as crowns, which resemble a fan when extended. The filters of this particular species generally combine white with another colour such as red, yellow, pink or orange. They are a fairly large member of the Feather Duster family and their tubes can grow as long as 8 inches, although 5 is more typical. These hard tubes protect the worm’s vulnerable body.
The Coco Worm is found throughout the world’s tropical seas, particularly the Indo-Pacific region. They are generally found in intertidal areas at depths of around 15 meters. In a home reef tank they should generally be placed in a shaded area of the lower rockwork or the sandbed. If they are placed in the sandbed, the tube should be buried so that their crown is pointing upwards. They should be placed in areas of relatively low flow and be housed in stable and established aquariums.
Since Coco-Worms are not corals, and therefore not photosynthetic, they must obtain their nutrients from the water column. They are filter feeders and can generally obtain most of their food requirements naturally, however they generally require supplemental feedings of phytoplankton and liquid foods. Like corals, Coco Worms create skeletons of calcium carbonate and so will require alkalinity and calcium levels be monitored.
While they are not the easiest reef tank inhabitants to keep, with their unique colourations and distinctive, large crowns they add interest and movement to a home aquarium.