Opheliid worm 

Armandia sp. 1

View scientific description and taxonomy

Scientific Details

Family level description.
Opheliidae are deposit-feeding burrowers in sandy and muddy sediments; they have short, fusiform bodies generally with about 40 or fewer segments. The prostomium is conical and continues the taper of the body to a fine tip. Parapodia are absent or inconspicuous although a pair of short to long branchiae may occur on most segments. The pygidium is a simple ring, or often a tube or cone, with 4 or more cirri and perhaps other lobes. Chaetae are only simple capillaries.

Species level technical description.
Body of 25-30 chaetigers (usually 28-29 in adults), not clearly divided into regions, with a ventral groove present along almost entire body. Prostomium often pointed with palpode extension club-shaped, Prostomial eyes present (red-brown, subdermal, on posterior half of prostomium. Often faded or difficult to observe in large preserved specimens). Lateral eye spots present, first appearing on chaetiger 7, total number of chaetigers with eye spots 9-13. Mouth located anterior to first chaetiger. Branchiae present, first present on chaetiger 2, continue for 22-29 chaetigers. Branchiae simple, smooth, about as long as diameter of body (short and straight). Parapodial lobe conical-digitiform. Chaetiger 10 without prominent glandular fold. Anal tube entire, no longer than last 2 chaetigers, with paired long internally attached ventral cirri, and shorter dorsal cirri (more than 6-8 short dorsal cirri and paired ventral cirri projecting 2-3 times length of anal tube).



General Description

In members of this genus branchiae and lateral eye spots are present and there is a ventral groove present along almost entire body. This species is usually unpigmented and has a pointed prostomium. Body up to about 3 cm long.


Other species, and genera, of Opheliidae occur in our region, but the two commonest species in Port Phillip Bay are Armandia sp. and Polyophthalmus sp. Both species are active deposit feeders which live in soft sediments where they consume buried organic particles; they do not form permanent burrows. Nephtys australiensis is also found in estuarine areas, often in association with the nereidid polychaete Australonereis ehlersi.


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

Soft substrates

Distribution guide

Southern Australia.

Species Group

Worms Opheliid worms


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

Water Column

On or near sea floor

Max Size

3 cm


Organic matter

Commercial Species


Global Dispersal

Native to Australia

Species Code

sp. 1


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, Opheliid worm, Armandia , in Taxonomic Toolkit for marine life of Port Phillip Bay, Museum Victoria, accessed 21 Jun 2024,

Text: creative commons cc by licence