Landcare Research - Manaaki Whenua

Landcare-Research -Manaaki Whenua

Guide to New Zealand's freshwater invertebrates

Estuarine paddleworms ( Nereidae : Nereidae )

Diagnostic features

The polychaetes are annelids (segmented worms) and they are characterised by their fleshy “paddles” (parapodia) on each body segment. The nereid polychaetes include some large greenish species that are common in estuaries. Nereids have a pair of palps on the first body segment, and a proboscis with a pair of jaws.

Typical habitats

Nereids can be common in the muddy reaches of stream and river estuaries, where they construct mucus-lined burrows.


Nereids include herbivores, carnivores, deposit feeders and filter feeders.

Indicator value

Nereids are found in the estuaries of rivers draining bush-covered, farmland and urban catchments, and they do not appear to be particularly sensitive to water quality. This family has not been assigned tolerance values but the Class Polychaeta (paddleworms) has a soft bottom tolerance value of 6.7 (no hard bottom value has been assigned).