Sea Slugs in a local Mall pet store

February 13, 2000
From: Mike Thomas

I'm not sure if this is the right forum for my question or not, but here goes. I have a mini reef tank with about 5 species of soft corals and one hard coral. I found at the local mall pet store the other day some sea slugs for sale. They look like the slug at the top of each of your web pages (being blue and yellow with orange apendages on top). The people at the store said they eat left over food on the bottom of the tank. I don't believe them, since they have the slugs in with two large yellow tangs which seem to have taken large bites out of most of them. And I have read that many eat corals.
The slugs at the pet store are very beautiful, and I was wondering what species they would be safe to put in my reef tank. By the way your web page is very nice with an abundance of information.

Mike Thomas

Thomas, M., 2000 (Feb 13) Sea Slugs in a local Mall pet store. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from

Dear Mike,
If the slugs are like the one in the banner they are Chromodoris elisabethina which feed on particular species of sponges. Nudibranchs aren't very good animals for aquaria because most have very specialised food requirements. There are some that feed on hard corals, others that feed on soft corals, some that feed on anemones etc etc. Most of their various foods are colonial animals and themselves difficult to keep in aquaria.

Usually, the only people who can easily keep nudibranchs alive in aquaria are scuba divers or regular visitors to the shore who can colect their own nudibranchs and replace their food on a regular basis. One alternative to nudibranchs are Sea Hares which are herbivorous sea slugs and so can be fed more easily. Some pages worth looking at are:
Keeping in captivity
Hypselodoris bullocki
Chelidonura varians
Berghi verrucicornis

All of these pages have messages and discussions on keeping sea slugs in aquaria.

Hope they are of some use,
Best wishes,
Bill Rudman.

Rudman, W.B., 2000 (Feb 13). Comment on Sea Slugs in a local Mall pet store by Mike Thomas. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from

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