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Tubifex tubifex
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Annelida
Class: Clitellata
Order: Oligochaeta
Family: Tubificidae
Genus: Tubifex
Species: T. tubifex
Binomial name
Tubifex tubifex
(Müller, 1774)
Tubifex, in Aa River (north of France) in a polluted zone, circa 1990

Tubifex tubifex, also called the sludge worm, or sewage worm, is a species of tubificid segmented worm that inhabits the sediments of lakes and rivers on several continents. Tubifex probably includes several species, but distinguishing between them is difficult because the reproductive organs, commonly used in species identification, are resorbed after mating, and because the external characteristics of the worm vary with changes in salinity. These worms ingest sediments, selectively digest bacteria, and absorb molecules through the body wall.

The worms can survive with little oxygen by waving hemoglobin rich tail-ends to exploit all available oxygen, they can also breathe though their thin skin similar to frogs. They can also survive in areas heavily polluted with organic matter that almost no other species can endure. By forming a protective cyst and lowering its metabolic rate, T. tubifex can survive drought and food shortage. Encystment may also function in the dispersal of the worm.

In 2009, colonies of tubifex worms were discovered in North Carolina sewer lines. Viral videos showing the colonies' blob-like appearance and individual worms resembling tentacles led to the speculation that they were some form of cryptid. [1][2][3]


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