We want to buy a nudibranch

March 10, 2002
From: jennifer

My fiance' and I are interested in purchasing a sea slug/nudibranch type animal. I have read through some of the many posts in this forum and see that no one knows what they eat. Does this apply to ALL species or just specific ones? And if not all, which ones can you feed and what do you feed them? We have found a VERY reputable dealer in Miami who is also an aquarist himself. i.e. He maintains aquariums for a living. I would think, that someone of this level of experience who has a reputation to maintain would not sell animals that cannot be kept alive, yet I read here how they starve to death. I am very confused and could use a little guidence. I read where one of the posters to the forum said his was eatting Breadcrumb sponge? Is this true? Your response to his post was short so I'm not sure to take that as an endorsement for breadcrumb sponge or not. Is there a food supplement out there that perhaps mimics the particular type of sponge that they eat in the wild? any input would be appreciated, Thank you,


Fairbank, J., 2002 (Mar 10) We want to buy a nudibranch. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from http://www.seaslugforum.net/find/6387

Dear Jennifer,
Most messages on the Forum apply to a single species, so it's fairly clear from the context whether we know what a particular species feeds on or not. The big problem, even when we know what a species eats, is how to get a continuing supply of its food so that it stays alive and healthy long-term. Many nudibranchs feed on sponges, bryozoans, hydroids and other colonial animals, which are particularly difficult to keep alive in artificial conditions, especially when we want them to be attacked and gradually eaten alive by our favourite nudibranch. A second problem is that even if we know the food of our favourite nudibranch by name, it is often not easy to identify it or to obtain it from commercial sources.

Most nudibranchs available in aquarium shops have been collected by chance by some poor islander in the tropics who is happy to make a few cents by on-selling their colourful find to the first middle-man in a chain of people which stretches halfway around the world. The last person in the chain is your helpful aquarium shop owner. These animals are not collected in an organised way and there is no system of collecting their specific food organisms, so the possibility of your aquarium shop owner, however reputable, being able to provide you with the correct food item on a continuing basis is nil.

Your mention of a message mentioning the Breadcrumb sponge as an alternative food source for Hypselodoris bullocki illustrates the potential for misinformation to circulate. Common names are impossible to use as they mean different species to different people. If, as suggested, the name 'Breadcrumb sponge' was referring to a species of Haliclona, then it is most unlikely that it would be a suitable food for a chromodorid such as H. bullocki, because chromodorids have never been found feeding on Haliclona or related spiculate sponges.

If your heart is set on a nudibranch, and the only way you can get one is to buy one, then all I can suggest is that you ask your local supplier to sell you the one he has in his home tank and to sell you the food he has been using to keep it alive and healthy.

As far as I know there are no artificial foods available
Best wishes,
Bill Rudman

Rudman, W.B., 2002 (Mar 10). Comment on We want to buy a nudibranch by jennifer. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from http://www.seaslugforum.net/find/6387

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