Jun 1, 2009

Curious Wormfish

I am very excited about my new pet Curious Wormfish. This fish has been on my fish wish list for many years, but I haven't been able to locate one until last Friday. I was very pleased that my fish has blue on it; some curious wormfish are more yellow and lack the blue stripe. Mine must be the true Gunnelichthys curiosus. I took more than two hours to acclimate him using the drip method. I take longer than normal because my tank's temperature is so low, and this is a delicate fish. Updates on this fish Here.

I took a top-view photo of him in the bucket, then transferred him to a specimen container to get a good closeup. In all my life, I've never seen a fish jump so much. Poor thing is too skittish to even photograph with the flash on. So I gently put him into my aquarium. Lucky for me, he decided to swim around for a few seconds before promptly burying himself in the sand, which is where he will probably spend most of my waking hours. I was able to get a couple half-decent pictures of him. You can sort of tell how he swims from the photos, undulating his whole body in an S-shape.

Curious wormfish are very shy and cryptic, but so is everything else in my aquarium. They have a poor survival record in captivity, mostly due to improper housing. These fish must be kept in an aquarium with a tight fitting lid. I'm using fine pond mesh to cover mine. They are so thin, they can fit through even the tiniest spaces.

According to wetwebmedia's FAQ, These fish are even more shy than seahorses, and shouldn't be kept with swimming fish, including wrasses. Almost any fish will easily outcompete them for food and harass them. They are surprisingly thin, and may be easily swallowed by all but the smallest, most peaceful fish. I put mine into my seahorse/Brotulid aquarium where he can be cryptic in peace.

When I came home from work today, he was swimming out in the open. I immediately thawed a cube of Hikari Mysis shrimp and put it in the tank. He ate with gusto! I tried to get a couple pictures of him, but he jumps every time the flash goes off. (I don't know how anyone could possibly keep one of these in an uncovered aquarium. The poor thing would only last 2 minutes.) And my glass has billions of Spirorbids on it from the phytoplankton feedings. I'll let him settle in more before subjecting him to the camera again. For now, check out this gorgeous photo by Keoki Stender. This is by far the best photo I've ever seen of a Curious wormfish.

December Update: my Curious Wormfish moved himself to my sump with the Brotulids a few months ago. I left him there because he seemed more comfortable in the dark with other lazy fish. He hides with them in their PVC tubes and comes out when he smells food. He is still an extremely skittish, shy fish. He seems to get along wonderfully with the Brotulids. There are several PVC pipes in the sump, but they all share one. Guess they like company.


  1. Felicia,

    Any update on your wormfish? I really like them as well and am considering purchasing a few of them for my 125g tank.

    Couple of questiosn for you:
    1. My tank is covered with eggcrate only. Do you think that will work?
    2. I have cardinals, clownfish, a couple angles (coral beauity, bi-color), a hippo tang and a longnose hawkfish in my tank. Do you think these guys will survive?

  2. Sorry it took so long to respond, I didn't see this comment. These fish are so small, they could certainly jump through eggcrate. Honestly, I don't think they would do well with the tankmates you've described. Mine is frightened by seahorses, and will run into the aquarium sides, tries to jump out of the tank, or dives into the sand if any fish comes near him. He is still eating well, but is really skittish. If you do get some, try putting them into the tank first, then slowly adding the other tankmates (which have been temporarily removed from the tank and quarantined). Good luck!

  3. what do worm fish eat?i have a wrom fishin my fish tank at home and i never see it eat, now my little blue tetras are beginging to disappear...

  4. asayko, sounds like you have a freshwater fish you're calling a wormfish. The Curious Wormfish in this article is a peaceful, saltwater species. Can you get a photo of it for a better ID?

  5. Well, Curious is over 2 years old now. He's still doing great and eating really well. He comes out to swim every day at feeding time, but hides in his rock most of the day. I'm happy that I've been so successful with this difficult species for this long.

  6. Just wanted to update on Curious. He's over 3 years old now and still doing well. I rarely see him, but he came out tonight for dinner and ate his PE mysis.

  7. Update on your curios wormfish? It would be amazing to see it still existing. I am interested in all species of fish and I look forward to receiving a master's degree in Marine biology someday so if you could get back to me I would appreciate it.