Re: Mystery from South Africa

August 26, 1999
From: Johan Bresler

Hi Bill,

You have got it right from the Tanzanian picture on the Web site. Looks like my sponge's day's are numbered. Will they accept substitute foods or should I return them to the ocean?

Many Thanks.

Johan Bresler

Bresler, J., 1999 (Aug 26) Re: Mystery from South Africa. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from

Dear Johan,
I think they are very specialised in their choice of food, and in my experience the sponges they feed on don't survive well in aquaria. Personally, if you can put them back where you collected them, I would do that. Although it might sound a bit strange, one interesting thing to look at are the faecal pellets of Umbraculum. I have never seen it described in the literature, but specimens I looked in New Zealand suggested some sophisticated sorting was going on in the stomach. Each faecal pellet consisted of many bundles of sponge spicules, all packed together into a cylinder. Each spicule bundle consisted of a neatly stacked cluster of spicules arranged like a neat pile of firewood, the spicules all about the same length, each bundle in a little mucous case. Along the edge of the faecal pellet were four or five streaks of orange or yellow which I presume was the waste from the sponge tissue. Somehow the digestive system sorts out the spicules and stacks them into neat bundles, then wraps each bundle in a mucous sac, then packs a number of bundles to make a faecal pellet.

Best wishes,
Bill Rudman.

Rudman, W.B., 1999 (Aug 26). Comment on Re: Mystery from South Africa by Johan Bresler. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from

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