Chromodoris annae in aquarium

March 5, 2008
From: Mattias Westermark


I am a Swedish biology teacher with a reefaquarium. I oredered six specimens of Chelidonura varians to get rid of my flatworm problem, but when my local fishdealer got the shipment the specimens were of a different type (still called "blue velvet seaslug" by the importer). When I got home I identified the nudibranches as Chromodoris annae, a sponge feeder. The shipper imports from Bali and the Phillippines. [Length: 35 mm]

I have several colonies of sponge in my tank, mainly a yellow species with tubular vents, which I have been unable to identify. I have read the discussion on Angelfish food, but I cannot find any information on success - anyone have any information on keeping these beautiful nudibranchia, now that I have become an unwilling keeper of them?

Mattias Westermark

Westermark, M., 2008 (Mar 5) Chromodoris annae in aquarium. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from

Dear Mattias,

There is one record on the Forum of this species feeding on a sponge, probably Petrosaspongia [message #12039] and I suspect it feeds on a similar or the same sponge seen in messages #12040, #11903, but sponges are very difficult to keep alive in aquaria and almost impossible to transplant from the wild into aquaria under the best circumstances. Certainly the chances of one being kept alive from Bali to Uppsala are extremely slight. Of course the chances of some fish collector in Bali getting the right sponge is also very slight as well. And then even if you had the sponge alive in your aquarium you would then be going to put it under the stress of being eaten alive. The picture I am trying to paint is one of impossibility.

If someone could invent an artificial food for sponge feeders I am sure they would make a fortune, but it seems that sponge feeders have evolved to feed on particular species of sponges - not just because they like certain tastes, but because different sponges contain different metabolites the nudibranchs require, and others  contain symbiotic organsims which also seem essential for some sponge feeders. Although farmers can feed quite a few vegetarian farm animals on hay, it seems sponge feeders have more complicated requirements. I am afraid your nudibranchs have been condemned to a slow starvation.

Bill Rudman

Rudman, W.B., 2008 (Mar 5). Comment on Chromodoris annae in aquarium by Mattias Westermark. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from

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