Hypselodoris bullocki - the blue dorid

March 21, 2001
From: Kristin English Porter

I am a herpetologist. I am a keeper in a zoo and recently I have been thrust head on into the world of salt water ecosystems at work. My parents saw my excitement at the challenge and suprised me with a 55 gallon salt water aquarium. It is a reef system with safely cultured live rock (not blasted off a reef!). It is now about 6 months young. A week ago my mother stopped off and brought a suprise. A blue dorid nudibranch she found at the local fish shope. The store owner told her that it eats algae and microorganisms off of the live rock. I spoke with my zoo friends and they said that they ate gorgonia. What do i need to supply my new charge with a happy healthy life? It has already laid an egg ribbon! But I was told if the fish have not eaten it yet, they will eventually. Any information about life span, environment preferences, and diet would be greatly appreciated. I did not know what a challenge he would be until I began research!


Porter, K.E., 2001 (Mar 21) Hypselodoris bullocki - the blue dorid. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from http://www.seaslugforum.net/find/4002

Dear Kristin,
If you have a look through the other messages on the Hypselodoris bullocki pages you will see that others have asked the same question and I am afraid the answer is not very palatable. Firstly aquarium shop owners who are telling their customers that nudibranchs are grazing herbivores are either lying or just don't know. In either case I think they are irresponsible and not exercising their duty of care to their customers, or for that matter to the animals in their care. Imagine the outcry if they started selling puppies and kittens and advised their customers that they just eat cheap bird seed!

Every species of nudibranch has a very specialised diet. No generic 'nudibranch food' exists. In the case of Hypselodoris bullocki we are not even sure which species of sponge it feeds on, but it is basically a specialised sponge feeder and will eat a sponge found in its Indo-West Pacific Ocean home. I am sure the aquarium dealer does not have the sponge in stock, and like most sponges, even if you could identify its food, it would be very difficult to keep alive in a home aquarium. Sorry I can't give you better news, but as I have said to others before I think you should let the aquarium shopkeeper know that keeping and selling nudibranchs, or any animals for that matter, which he has no knowledge of and no ability to keep them alive is unacceptable.
Best wishes,
Bill Rudman

Rudman, W.B., 2001 (Mar 21). Comment on Hypselodoris bullocki - the blue dorid by Kristin English Porter. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from http://www.seaslugforum.net/find/4002

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