We have received a lot of interesting questions about worms – that’s just what happens when you manage a website that invites reader questions about worms – but the query we were emailed recently has to be one of the stranger ones to ever arrive in our inbox. Here is the question: “I have a worm that looks like a goldfish. Very unusual looking. Can you tell me what this is?” A simply worded question, to be sure, but its simplicity belies the difficulty of answering it. A worm that looks like a goldfish? Huh? We have never heard of such a thing. In fact, we have never heard of any sort of worm that looks like a fish at all.
Before we even begin to attempt to grasp at any sort of answer to this question, we have to emphasize the details that are missing. Where was this worm found? On land or in water, and in what part of the world? We’re proud to have an international reader base, so we have no idea from where our reader is writing. The question is obviously in English, but English is a global language. Also, how big is this worm? Is it the same size as a goldfish (and what kind of goldfish), or does it merely look like one, meaning it could theoretically be any size at all?
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This is one of the few questions we have been asked that we basically have zero clue what our reader found. But because we are so dedicated to answering the worm-related questions we receive, here we go… Having read the Lord of the Rings trilogy many years ago, we know that there is a “race” of dragons known as “worms.” One dragon of this race is Glaurung, who is sometimes called Glaurung the Golden, suggesting that this dragon was gold or perhaps yellow. (If you think we have a freakishly prodigious memory for details, we don’t – we’re getting this information from the online Encyclopedia of Arda, a place where serious Tolkien enthusiasts talk about the minutia of his works, although we do vaguely recall the dragon Glaurung.) So, we at least know of one “worm” that is gold in color. The fact that we have brought up this information is a pretty good indication of how lost we are with respect to our reader’s particular question.
On a more serious (which is to say biological) note, we did dig up some information on a worm that goes by the curious name “fat innkeeper worm.” Found in mudflats, these worms can be somewhat tan in color (and in fact we saw a picture of one of these creatures that is a kind of a brown-orangeish hue – goldfish can be orange!). They burrow into muddy sand, making tunnels in which other fat innkeeper worms, along with some other creatures, like pea crabs, often live (hence the “innkeeper” part of the name, presumably). There are also some fish that (roughly) look like worms, like the bay pipefish, which is long and skinny and green, making it resemble one of the blades of eelgrass through which they often swim. Neither of these would likely be described as a “worm that looks like a goldfish,” but hey, at least we’re trying.
To conclude, we do not know what our reader found. It sounds like a very interesting creature, and we wish we could provide some more definitive information, but, alas, we cannot. It worth mentioning that it is eminently possible that our reader didn’t find a worm at all, as has been implied. This is something to keep in mind as he continues to puzzle over his find.
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