Re: what do they eat?

August 1, 2000
From: Darla Hatton

Boy you are quick. I figured that I would have to wait at least a few days to a week for a reply. Thanks for your prompt reply.

I do believe that my first sea slug is a Hypselodoris bullocki. It looks identical to the picture in figure E on the page you referenced.

For the second sea slug. I scanned photos from my aquarium book only for identification
purposes. I do not want to infringe on copyright laws -- so I would appreciate it if you would not post this picture on your web site.

The page you referred me to, indicates that these creatures feed only on specific sponges. Would you know of any indigenous to Tarpon Springs, Florida (U.S.A.) -- which is,
coincidentally, world famous for its sponging industry. Perhaps I can interest a local sponger to take pity on my situation and sell me a variety to help these beautiful creatures to remain happy and healthy. We are centrally located in Florida on the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

Incidentally, did you ever get a response from Laura Romin regarding her use of frozen marine sponge food [Angel formula, manufactured by Ocean Nutrition) in the water and the nudibranch, Hypselodoris bullocki, seemed immediately interested].

Did her experiment work? Also did you ever get a reply as to whether the Angel Formula food is sponge substitute for sponge-feeding animals, or actually food for sponges?

If there is no hope of survival in my aquarium, would you suggest reintroduction into the wild -- or would that adversely affect the Eco-system here?

I have learned a valuable lesson to do additional research on the web prior to making any aquatic purchase. I feel bad that my newly found wisdom might have to be at the expense of a innocent creature.

Thank you for your aid and your prompt attention.

Darla Hatton

Hatton, D., 2000 (Aug 1) Re: what do they eat?. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from

Dear Darla,
You were lucky to get an instant response, sometimes it takes a week or longer. Your second animal is Chromodoris magnifica. Like Hypselodoris bullocki it is in the Family Chromodorididae, but as far as I know, nothing is known of the actual sponge it feeds on.

Although in nature these nudibranchs are very choosy about which sponge they feed on, it is possible that there is a species of sponge in your area that these two animals will feed on. It is unlikely that the sponge fishes commercially will be suitable, and even more unlikely that the psonge fisherman will know much about non commercial species of sponge. The other problem is that even if you find a suitable species of sponge you will need to be able to transplant it into your aquarium and keep it alive, which would be a difficult task, even if it wasn't being eaten by a nudibranch at the same time.

No I never heard from Laura Romin. It is unlikely that your animals would survive if you released them into the wild. The chances of them finding a suitable sponge would be very slight. More importantly I would not advise the release of any non-native plant or animal into the sea. Although in this case they are unlikely to survive, it is possible they mated before they were so rudely removed from the western Pacific and so could lay eggs and release larvae which would have a better chance of finding an alternative food source. A more likely problem could be the chance they carry some pathogen, virus etc, which while not lethal to them could affect local species.

As I said to someone else recently, you may as well keep them. They could live without feeding for some weeks, and you could use them as a talking point with visitors to warn against buying unknown animals from unscrupulous pet shops.

Best wishes,
Bill Rudman.

Rudman, W.B., 2000 (Aug 1). Comment on Re: what do they eat? by Darla Hatton. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from

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