A fanworm (Myxicola infundibulum)

NBN Interactive28-11-2006

Map accurate at time of writing. Visit NBN or OBIS to view current distribution

Researched byPenny Avant Refereed byAdmin
Authority(Montagu, 1808)
Other common names- Synonyms-



A stout, cylindrical worm up to 20 cm long that lives permanently in a thick, transparent, mucilagenous tube that remains almost completely buried in soft sediment. The head, which projects from the tube, is surrounded by a crown of purple and brown tentacles that are interlaced for most of their length, forming a characteristic funnel, with only their tips free. The body is segmented and dark yellow or orange in colour. When disturbed the worm retracts into its tube and can reduce its length by half.

Recorded distribution in Britain and Ireland

Widely distributed, but often locally scarce, around British and Irish coasts.

Global distribution



Found buried in mud or sand sublittorally of depth down to 30 m in conditions of varied wave and tide exposure. Most abundant in wave sheltered habitats and may occur in variable salinity

Depth range


Identifying features

  • A stout, segmented worm, up to 20 cm in length that lives permanently in a tube.
  • The head is two-lobed and surrounded by a wide funnel of tentacles that are joined for nearly all their length, with only their tips free.
  • The body is orange or dark yellow in colour and the tentacles are purple or brown.
  • The thick tube is transparent and mucilaginous, and remains almost completely buried in the sediment.

Additional information

Myxicola infundibulum may occasionally be found in conditions of variable salinity such as inlets and harbours.

Listed by

- none -

Further information sources

Search on:



  1. Fish, J.D. & Fish, S., 1996. A student's guide to the seashore. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  2. Hayward, P., Nelson-Smith, T. & Shields, C. 1996. Collins pocket guide. Sea shore of Britain and northern Europe. London: HarperCollins.

  3. Hayward, P.J. & Ryland, J.S. (ed.) 1995b. Handbook of the marine fauna of North-West Europe. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  4. Howson, C.M. & Picton, B.E. (ed.), 1997. The species directory of the marine fauna and flora of the British Isles and surrounding seas. Belfast: Ulster Museum. [Ulster Museum publication, no. 276.]

  5. JNCC (Joint Nature Conservation Committee), 1999. Marine Environment Resource Mapping And Information Database (MERMAID): Marine Nature Conservation Review Survey Database. [on-line] http://www.jncc.gov.uk/mermaid,

  6. NBN (National Biodiversity Network), 2002. National Biodiversity Network gateway. http://www.searchnbn.net, 2008-10-31


This review can be cited as:

Avant, P. 2006. Myxicola infundibulum A fanworm. In Tyler-Walters H. and Hiscock K. (eds) Marine Life Information Network: Biology and Sensitivity Key Information Reviews, [on-line]. Plymouth: Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom. Available from: http://www.marlin.ac.uk/species/detail/1759

Last Updated: 28/11/2006