Home | Overview | Browse families | Key to families

About Polychaetes
Worms that are not polychaetes
Invalid polychaete families
Study methods
Using interactive keys
Quick guides

Quick guides

The safest identification strategy for those who are unfamiliar with polychaete families is to use the interactive key to families. However, as familiarity is gained, the following "quick guides" may help separate some families. Be aware, of course, that these groupings of families are at best only superficially similar and (with the exception of the scale worms) are quite unrelated worms. We include these guides only because we have found that inexperienced sorters frequently confuse these families and may find some summaries to be useful. (An indication of likely evolutionary relationships between polychaete families can be found on the classification page.)

scale worms - Polynoidae and related families

"earthworm-like" polychaetes - Capitellidae and some unrelated families

polychaetes with lots of "tentacles" - terebellid-like families

Polychaetes introduced to Australia - known or suspected accidental human introductions