Spaghetti Worm (species: Reteterebella lirrf) in Lizard Island Field Guide (Lizard Island Field Guide)
Reteterebella lirrf
Spaghetti Worm

©Anne Hoggett: Tentacles of Reteterebella lirrf at Lizard Island

©Anne Hoggett: Tentacles more than 1 metre long of Reteterebella lirrf at Lizard Island

©Alexander Semenov: Reteterebella lirrf in the lab at LIRS, removed from its fine muddy tube within dead coral. Paratype AM W.44545.
Kingdom Animalia
Phylum Annelida
Class Polychaeta
Family Terebellidae
Genus Reteterebella
Species Reteterebella lirrf



Distinguishing features

These tubeworms have conspicuous white spaghetti-like feeding tentacles that protrude up to 1.5 metres from the reef substrate in which the worm is concealed. The worm itself stays within its tube in the reef and is never seen unless removed deliberately.

Dr Pat Hutchings (Australian Museum) is confident that this species is the only one in the Lizard Island area with such long feeding tentacles. This character cannot be used in other locations unless the terebellid fauna has been thoroughly studied.


  • Size data has not been obtained.


Similar taxa

  • Animalia: species: Reteterebella queenslandia
    is a valid species found at the southern end of the GBR and possibly in the Solomon Islands. The record of this species from Lizard Island by Hutchings and Glasby (1988) is based on a misidentification for Reteterebella lirrf (de Matos Noguiera et al, 2015).


©Atlas of Living Australia: Australian distribution

Local abundance

  • Lizard Island: Extremely common

Web resources


  • De Matos Nogueira, J. M., Hutchings, P. and O. Carrerette (2015). Terebellidae (Annelida, Terebelliformia) from Lizard Island, Great Barrier Reef, Australia, Zootaxa, 4019 (1): 484-576. LIRS catalog number 1926.
  • Hutchings, P. (1978). The hidden fauna of coral reefs, Oceans, 1(4): 160-163. LIRS catalog number 686.
  • Hutchings, P.A. and C. Glasby (1988). The Amphitritinae (Polychaeta: Terebellidae) from Australia, Records of the Australian Museum, 40: 1-60. LIRS catalog number 354.
  • View all references