Fan Worm 

Myxicola infundibulum (Renier, 1804)

View scientific description and taxonomy

Scientific Details

Family level description.
Sabellidae are aptly known as fan worms for the crown of feathery radioles which are used to filter particles from the water. The thorax has 8 segments in most sabellids, followed by a variable number of abdominal segments; the two regions are distinguished by a reversed arrangement of dorsal and ventral chaetal bundles. Sabellidae (except for one uncommon tropical genus) make flexible tubes of parchment or mucous. There is no operculum sealing the end of the tube when the worm retracts.

Species level technical description.
Branchial lobes fused dorsally. Radioles numerous, usually more than 8 pairs and increasing with size of worm. Palmate membrane present. Radiolar flange radiolar flange not forming expanded rounded flanges at tips of radioles. Present. Paired stylodes absent. Radiolar eyes absent. Anterior margin of peristomial ring unmodified, of low, even height all around. Narrow, about as long as wide. Distal end entire. Posterior peristomial ring collar absent or vestigial. Dorsal lips with dorsal radiolar appendages. Lacking dorsal pinnular appendages. Glandular girdle on chaetiger 2 absent. Anal depression absent. Notochaetae of chaetiger 1 comprise a bundle of 2 rows similar to remaining thoracic notochaetae. Superior thoracic notochaetae elongate, narrowly hooded. Inferior thoracic notochaetae, anterior row (chaetiger 4) absent. Inferior thoracic notochaetae, posterior row (chaetiger 4) absent. Teeth of thoracic uncini equal in size in series above main fang. Breast poorly developed, chaeta acicular in appearance (perhaps with a small swelling proximal to the main fang). Handle very long, at least 4 times length of neck of uncinus. Thoracic neuropodial companion chaetae absent. Abdominal uncini almost entirely encircle each segment. Abdominal notopodial uncini with a distinct main fang and several smaller teeth above. Breast well developed. Handle absent. Anterior abdominal neurochaetae, posterior row absent. Posterior abdominal neurochaetae, anterior row elongate, narrowly hooded.



General Description

In members of this genus a very well-developed palmate membrane is present and the body is encased in a mucous sheath. Body up to about 1 cm long.


This species is found in muddy habitats in harbour areas where it has apparently been accidentally introduced to Australia by shipping.


Port Phillip Bay and other similar coastal habitat, inshore and continental shelf.


Soft substrates

Distribution guide

Southern Australia.

Species Group

Worms Fan worms


Shore (0-1 m)
Shallow (1-30 m)

Water Column

On or near sea floor

Max Size

1 cm


Plankton or particles

Commercial Species


Global Dispersal

Introduced to Australia

Species Code

MoV 4332


Conservation Status

  • DSE Advisory List : Not listed
  • EPBC Act 1999 : Not listed
  • IUCN Red List : Not listed


article author Wilson, R.

Robin Wilson is a Senior Curator of marine invertebrates at Museum Victoria.


Cite this page as:
Wilson, R., 2011, Fan Worm, Myxicola infundibulum, in Taxonomic Toolkit for marine life of Port Phillip Bay, Museum Victoria, accessed 19 Mar 2018, http://portphillipmarinelife.net.au:8098/species/11162

Text: creative commons cc by licence