Tritoniopsis frydis in aquaria

March 9, 2004
From: Evan Warren

I recently purchased a red gorgonian that came from the northern Caribbean.It has about 8 nudibranches on it that I believe are Tritonia festiva from personal observation by comparing markings and the egg mass. I was wondering if they are toxic to tankmates if they die or are are bothered. I also want to know if there is any way to keep them alive without feeding them soft corals. Can they survive on algae, Caulerpa, plants? I'm not sure what to do with them if I can't keep them alive but I'm going to remove them from the gorgonia tonight. Maybe if someone is interested in studying them for scientific research I could send them on if the shipping isn't outrageous or they are willing to put up shipping. Anyway can you tell me if my observations are correct from the photos. Sorry I couldn't get better pics but they dont make a macro lens for my camera and for some reason they came out a little dark. I also included a pic of the gorgonia.
Evan Warren

Warren, E., 2004 (Mar 9) Tritoniopsis frydis in aquaria. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from

Dear Evan,
Your animal is a definitely a tritoniid, but T. festiva is a north Pacific species. Your animal is probably the Caribbean species Tritoniopsis frydis. I am posting another message on that species today [#12336] so have a look there for more information. On reason I am not sure is the way the egg ribbons are coiled around the gorgonian. All other photos I have seen of this species show the egg ribbons forming a planar coil on a flat or relatively flat surface. Some tritoniids do lay an egg ribbon wrapped around a stalk like yours does so your animal could be another species or Tritoniopsis frydis could do both.

Concerning keeping them in your aquarium. This species is intimately associated with the gorgonian they arrived on. They live on it, feed on it, and lay their eggs on it. They will no more eat plant material than your pet dog or cat will! So I guess that leaves you, and the slugs, with a predicament. They will certainly eat your gorgonian, so what you have to decide is whether having these beautiful nudibranchs in your tank is better than keeping a boring colony of gorgonians?
Best wishes
Bill Rudman

Rudman, W.B., 2004 (Mar 9). Comment on Tritoniopsis frydis in aquaria by Evan Warren. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from

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