Ancula pacifica feeding

June 28, 2000
From: Bruce Wight

Hi again Doc.

Regarding the question as to what Ancula pacifica eats, I see them feeding on hydroids. Attached are photos of Ancula pacifica and juvenile Flabellina trilineata eating at the same table on a smorgasbord of some type of hydroid.

Hope you enjoy the images,
Take care
Bruce Wight

Wight, B., 2000 (Jun 28) Ancula pacifica feeding. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from

Dear Bruce,
I don't know why I didn't check the wonderful List of the Worldwide Food Habits of Nudibranchs by Gary McDonald & James Nybakken at when I asked you about their food.

In it, they list the food of Ancula pacifica to be Barentsia ramosa (Robertson), which is a member of the Phylum Entoprocta, which superficially look quite like hydroids. I suspect the animal in your photo, which I have arrowed, are entoprocts rather than hydroids. The Entoprocta are a small group of animals which used to be considered part of the Bryozoa [which are also known as Ectoprocta].

If I am right, I am not sure whether that means that your juvenile Flabellina trilineata are feeding uncharacteristically on entoprocts, or whether there are also small hydroids around as well.

It is also interesting to note in McDonald & Nybakken's list that Ancula gibbosa from Europe [as A. cristata] is reported to feed on hydroids and compound ascidians, although, as I note at the top of the page, Bernard Picton thinks it may feed on some animal that lives on compound ascidians.

If there is a good distinction between A. gibbosa and A. pacifica in feeding behaviour, then that it is useful evidence to suggest they are different species.

Perhaps someone from your part of the world will recognise the 'hydroid' or 'entoproct' in your photo.

Best wishes,
Bill Rudman.

Rudman, W.B., 2000 (Jun 28). Comment on Ancula pacifica feeding by Bruce Wight. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from


Ancula gibbosa

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