Social Feather Duster (Bispira brunnea): Some Interesting Facts

Social Feather Duster

The Social Feather Duster, also known as Bispira brunnea and Cluster Duster, is a type of marine bristleworm.

These worms usually live in groups and are commonly found in the Caribbean islands and southeast North America.

They have a crown of various colors, and the color of the crown is consistent within individual colonies.

How Was Social Feather Duster Discovered and Classified?

The Social Feather Duster was first described in 1917 by an American zoologist named Aaron Louis Treadwell, who was a specialist in annelids.

He initially called it Metalaonome brunnea, but later, it was moved to the genus Bispira and became Bispira brunnea.

The type locality, or the place where the first specimen was collected, is somewhere in the Bahamas.

What Does the Social Feather Duster Look Like?


The Social Feather Duster creates a soft, non-calcareous tube, about 1.6 in (40 mm) long, from which it projects when feeding and into which it can retract.

This tube is attached to a hard surface, like coral or rock, using a gland behind the worm’s head. White sand grains are also attached to the outside of the tube.

Trunk and Head

The trunk of the Social Feather Duster is segmented, and the head has a mouth, sensory organs, and a crown of radioles, which are feather-like tentacles.

There are 18 to 28 radioles arranged in two semicircular whorls.

What Are the Social Feather Duster’s Colors and Behavior?

Social Feather Dusters tend to grow in colonial groups, and their crowns of radioles sway together with water movements.

When one worm is stimulated to retract, the others do the same. They are sensitive to vibrations in the water, making them difficult to observe.

The colors of the worms vary, but individuals in each group tend to have similar colorings, like brown, orange, purple, or banded, and often darker in the center.

Where Does the Social Feather Duster Live?

The Social Feather Duster is found throughout the Caribbean region and around the Bahamas. It’s often common in these areas.

The tubes of these worms grow on rocks, corals, and sandy sediment, under overhangs, and in crevices.

They are found at depths of about 115 ft (35 m) and prefer areas with vigorous water movement where there is plenty of suspended organic material and plankton.

What Does the Social Feather Duster Eat and How Does It Reproduce?


The Social Feather Duster feeds on plankton, which it filters from the water using its radioles.

Small pinnules, lubricated by mucus, move the food particles down a groove in the radiole to the worm’s mouth in the center of the crown.


Whole colonies of Social Feather Duster are either male, female, or hermaphrodite.

It’s likely that these worms are protandrous hermaphrodites, meaning they start life as males and become females when they are larger.

If the crown is nipped off by a predator, the worm can regenerate it in a few weeks.

Social Feather Duster Characteristics

Reef Safe?Yes
Care Level:Moderate
Maximum Size:2.5 cm (1.0 in)

Scientific Classification

Scientific Name:Bispira brunnea
Also Known As:Social Feather Duster, Cluster Duster
Conservation Status:Unknown

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *