'Berghia verrucicornis' in aquaria
Juvenile, approx 1/2 - 3/4 inch long, Florida Keys, USA. Photo: Steve Kempf.
Note added 20 August 2005: This species has been named Aeolidella stephanieae.
The aeolid nudibranch Berghia verrucicornis has been found to be very useful in aquaria for controlling infestations of the fast growing and reproducing sea anemone Aiptasia. In the USA the aquarium trade have begun breeding up quantities of Berghia for sale to aquarium keepers.
One interesting puzzle is whether the animal being sold as Berghia verrucicornis in the USA is in fact the same as the the Mediterranean species. Even if it is not, it does seem to eat Aiptasia.
This page is a place for messages specifically about the 'trade' in Berghia. I do not have the time to answer all questions about where this animal can be bought. Aquarium suppliers come and go, their websites change address, and sometimes they have Berghia in stock, sometimes they don't. if you are looking for Berghia my best suggestion is to do what I do - go to a good search engine on the web and search.
If you have information on Berghia verrucicornis - photos, biology etc it is very welcome. I would very much like photos of the 'commercial' one so we could see if it really is B. verrucicornis.
Carroll, D. J. & Kempf, S. C. (1990) Laboratory Culture of the Aeolid Nudibranch Berghia verrucicornis (Mollusca, Opisthobranchia): Some Aspects of Its Development and Life History Biological Bulletin, 179: 243-253.
Kempf, S.C. & Brittsan, M. (1996) Berghia verrucicornis, A Nudibranch Predator Of The Aquarium "Weed" Anemone Aiptasia [originally published in Proceedings of AZAA Regional Conference, Audubon and Zoological Garden in New Orleans, 1996, pp 95-99].
Rudman, W.B., 2002 (January 20) 'Berghia verrucicornis' in aquaria. [In] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from http://www.seaslugforum.net/find/bergverraq
July 1, 2008
From: Adam Goehner
They specialize and only produce Berghia for shipment worldwide.
email@example.comGoehner, A.J., 2008 (Jul 1) Re: Where to get 'Berghia verrucicornis'. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from http://www.seaslugforum.net/find/21659
I'm not a great supporter of the sale of nudibranchs for the aquarium trade but I'll certainly add this 'home grown' animal to the relevant page.
February 6, 2008
From: Ben Caruso
Concerning message #1680:
I breed Berghia Nudibranchs for local pickup (save you $ on the outrageous overnight shipping costs that others charge). These are located in Leominster, MA. USA.
Please contact Ben at the email below for any requests:
I sell these for very cheap since it is a hobby for me.
firstname.lastname@example.orgCaruso, B., 2008 (Feb 6) 'Berghia Breeder'. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from http://www.seaslugforum.net/find/21355
I don't want the forum turning into a 'nudi ebay' but I am happy to make an exception for a 'breeder'. For those unfamiliar with this animal it was for many years identified incorrectly as European Berghia verrucicornis but has now been named Aeolidella stephanieae. It is valuable in the aquarium trade because it feeds on the anemone Aiptasia which is an aquarium pest. See the'Berghia verrucicornis' in aquaria Fact Sheet.
December 14, 2007
From: Dene Banger
Concerning message #21292:
Good Day Bill,
(If I may address you as such.)
I do understand that many nudibranchs use the sugars produced through photosynthesis by retained zooxanthellae. One would expect then that a nudibranch would spend a considerable amount of time in locations that receive light in order to take advantage of the nutrition produced by the algae during the short retention time.
However, this has not been our observations in the case of Aeolidiella stephanieae which prefer to spend 90% of their time in areas which have no light. This being the case then, retained zooxanthellae would be providing very little to no nutrition to this species before being passed through the digestive tract. Which starts to raise the question, "If this species spends so much time in the absence of light, is it dependent on nutrition being generated from retained zooxanthellae, or are the retained zooxanthellae being used for another function?"
email@example.comBanger, D.T., 2007 (Dec 14) Re: Aeolidiella stephanieae - zooxanthella for orientation?. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from http://www.seaslugforum.net/find/21308
I am glad you replied as it made me realised I took the title your gave your original message at face value. Aeolidiella stephanieae does not seem to retain or utilise zooxanthellae at all. As Steve Kempf says in an earlier message [#6364] this species starves if it no longer has Aiptasia to eat. Aiptasia certainly has symbiotic zooxanthellae but not all nudibranchs that ingest zooxanthellae from their food are adapted to kepp them alive for their own use. As I say in the species Fact Sheet is one that has no real adaptations for a zooxanthellae symbiosis. As I discuss on the solar powered pages, we get a whole gradation of species showing the gradual evolution of the physiological and physical adaptataions needed to optimise this relationsghips. The genus Phyllodesmium probably shows this best.
How did the symbiosis evolve? Probably it started with nudibranchs feeding on cnidarians which had symbiotic zooxanthellae. Since the colour of the animal is often related to its food colour, its possible that the first stage in this process wa simply retaining zooxanthellae so that the nudibranch matched the colour of its food. There is an interesting parallel with the retention by sacoglossan opisthobranchs of plastids from their algal food. Again there is a complete gradation from species which rely almost entirely on the products of photosynthesis to those that just digest the chloroplasts along with rest of the algal tissue.
This doesn't really answer your suggestion about orientation, but since Aeolidiella stephanieae doesn't really harbour the zooxanthellae, then any behavioural observations can't really be related to harbouring zooxanthellae. In fact the behaviour you describe here, staying in the shade, is the normal type of avoidance behaviour that many nudibranchs have. It is a protective behavior to protect them from predation. Those nudibranchs which are showy and visible during the day [chromodorids, phyllidiids] usually have nasty chemicals in the skin to deter predators.
December 11, 2007
From: Dene Banger
We are a Canadian commercial aquaculture company breeding the nudibranch Aeolidella stephanieae for the aquarium trade (well known as Berghia verrucicornis in the industry). Upon careful observation of their behaviour, feeding patterns, mating patterns etc., we are beginning to think that the retention of zooxanthella in the central digestive glands or cerata may be used for orientation. For example, increased or high stimulation of the zooxanthella in the cerata by light would indicate to the nudibranch that it is a) "right-side" up
b) that it is traveling along the top side of a physical object.
Likewise, less stimulation would indicate that the nudibranch was either inverted or travelling on the underside of an object.
I have read Steve Kempf's suggestion concerning solar-powered sea slugs and believe that there is some merit to a theory of, zooxanthella for orientation.
Incidently, we designed our breeding/hatching tanks along this idea and have documented six pairs of adults consistently laying 70 eggs strings in a 10 day period (approx. 6.8-7.2 strings per day). Certainly, well above most reports of an eggstring every 4-7 days. Upon hatching we are witnessing several thousand larvae in our specialized hatchers.
We are wondering if there has been more work done on the function of zooxanthella in this organism, and would invite some thoughts around such.
Dene Banger President
Sea Life Aquaculture Inc., Canada
firstname.lastname@example.orgBanger, D.B., 2007 (Dec 11) Aeolidiella stephanieae - zooxanthella for orientation?. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from http://www.seaslugforum.net/find/21292
It is certainly an interesting idea to suggest they have acquired zooxanthellae so they know which way is up, but one question you would need to ask is why every other mollusc without zooxanthellae finds their statocysts sufficient for the task. A number of other animal groups have developed similar symbioses with zooxanthellae, such as the reef-forming corals, and it seems those without zooxanthellae seem able to grow 'upwards' without the assistance of zooxanthellae.
I am not sure what you mean when you say you have designed your breeding/hatching tanks in accord with this idea. If you mean you have done everything to maximise photosynthesis for the zooxanthellae I assume that will keep the adult nudibranchs in good condition because a healthy stock of zooxanthellae in their tissues is just what the nudibranch needs, as it takes sugars and other nutrients from the zooxanthellae for its own needs.
August 2, 2007
From: Marshall Doud
How do you tell the difference between the Aeolidiella stephanieae and Berghia verrucicornis?
email@example.comDoud, M., 2007 (Aug 2) Berghia verrucicornis?. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from http://www.seaslugforum.net/find/20304
March 14, 2006
From: Lisa Brown
I am hoping you can answer a consistent question we are asked in the course of selling Berghia Verrucicornis nudibranchs to saltwater aquarists to solve their aiptasia anemone problem. How long do Berghia live in the typical captive saltwater display tank (assuming they do not run out of aiptasia to eat and are not eaten by predators)? I can not find any research that has answered this question. My feeling, based on our experience growing Berghia, is about 6 months.
Thanks in advance for your thoughts.
firstname.lastname@example.orgBrown, L., 2006 (Mar 14) 'Berghia verrucicornis' - Captive Life Span. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from http://www.seaslugforum.net/find/16062
I had my doubts some years go that the animal which has been identified in the aquarium trade as Berghia verrucicornis is that species, and in fact recently it has been described as a new species Aeolidiella stephanieae.
Concerning its life in aquaria, there is a good paper by Carroll & Kempf., 1990, which describes laboratory culture and says that a generation from egg laying to egg laying can be as short as 50 days. But they don't say how long they can survive after that. I guess the moral is to have two animals. Your suggestion of a six months life span sounds reasonable. [see 'Berghia verrucicornis' in aquaria Fact Sheet ]
Concerning the name change. I know it's probably a pain for you but could I suggest you start using the proper name for this species. Berghia verrucicornis is quite a different species from the Mediterranean. I would suggest you write Aeolidiella stephanieae [formerly 'Berghia verrucicornis']. That way the change will soon be picked up by the aquarium web pages.
September 5, 2005
From: Yvonne Rozsenich
I just wanted to let " berghia searchers" know that I still have Berghia verrucicornis available but they are no longer free. I have given hundreds away but my original post [#4518] is over 4 years old. I have been breeding them for over 6 years now and am happy to share my information and observations on Berghia v. with everyone.
email@example.comRozsenich, Y., 2005 (Sep 5) Re: Berghia verrucicornis to give away. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from http://www.seaslugforum.net/find/14699
Thanks for keeping in touch. I am sure there are interested aquarists out there with an Aiptasia problem. If you would like to write a short account on how to culture and look after this animal for posting on the Forum it would be very welcome. You may have not noticed that this animal now has its own name. Berghia verrucicornis was an unfortunate misidentification. Your apsecies is now known as Aeolidiella stephanieae. If you are able to, I would love to include some photos on the Forum of adults of your 'Berghia' and its egg ribbons.
August 20, 2005
From: Carl Fario
I am in the aquarium fish industry and always have issues with unwanted anemones in the aquarium. We do not carry any slugs due to the fact they just dont hold up. Is there a slug that I can aquire which will slowly wipe out a huge poplulation of Aiptasia type anemones? I mean 100's. Also where I can get them.
Thanks for your help.
firstname.lastname@example.orgFario, C., 2005 (Aug 20) Anemone eating slugs. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from http://www.seaslugforum.net/find/14605
Your message arrived just as I was posting my message 'New name for Aiptasia-feeding aeolid' so I might as well answer you straight away. This species, now named Aeolidiella stephanieae was previously known in the aquarium trade as Berghi verrucicornis and so any infromation on the web will be almost certainly under that name. From all accounts it works well with Aiptasia and can be bred in captivity. What I don't know is where you can get a couple of animals to start your own population. Fortunately the paper on breeding these animals in captivity is available from Biological Bulletin as a pdf file. So all I can say is follow the links in my message and look at the previous messages to the Forum which are attached to relevant pages. If by chance you find a source of the aeolid please let me know as your plea for help is only the last of many I receive.
- Carroll, D. J. & Kempf, S. C. (1990) Laboratory Culture of the Aeolid Nudibranch Berghia verrucicornis (Mollusca, Opisthobranchia): Some Aspects of Its Development and Life History Biological Bulletin, 179: 243-253.
March 25, 2004
First of all I would like to say that your site is one of the most informative that I have visited. Unfortunately I got to it just a little too late. I recently ordered 3 "Berghia verrucicornis" from a web site and am awaiting their arrival. I am confused as to how to actually identify Berghia verrucicornis. Before making my decision I read several articles published by both hobbyists and biologists with regards to this species. I decided to go with the Berghia verrucicornis due to the high level of satisfaction that I read. There are several sites that list themselves as selling the "real" Berghia verrucicornis, but each has different pictures. You posted in several of your responses that the pictures that you have seen to date were not good enough to tell if the nudi was actually Berghia verrucicornis; how can I tell if I really bought Berghia verrucicornis? What physical characteristics distinguish them from other nudi's? If they work to solve my problem then I will be happy, but I will still be curious. Is there a web site that shows how to actually distinguish these critters?
email@example.comJimmy, 2004 (Mar 25) What is the real Berghia verrucicornis?. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from http://www.seaslugforum.net/find/12510
As you mention, if the animals you have ordered 'do the job' then you don't have a problem. If your animal looks like Steve Kempf's photo on the Fact Sheet or like Leslea's photo [message #7131] the it is the one that is commercially available and east aquarium Aipatasia.
However 'true' Berghia verrucicornis is a Mediterranean species with a quite distinctive colour pattern. I don't even know if it really occurs in the Caribbean, even thought it has been reported from there. I am sure the aquarium trade is not trying to trick you when they sell you something that may not be Berghia verrucicornis. They think it is and so do all the happy customers who have got rid of their Aiptasia infestations. There is in fact no evidence to show that 'true' Berghia verrucicornis could do the job. What we have is an example of how little we know about these animals. I guess its the same as the nursery trade who for years sold plants to well satisfies customers as Geraniums. We now know that most of them are really Pelargoniums but it didn't stop millions of customers enjoying the flowers.
January 3, 2003
From: John Mauro, Jr.
Hello. Also, Happy New Year. Once the problem with Aiptasia is under control, will Berghia survive, or is it doomed as other sea slugs are in a closed environment.
John Mauro, Jr.
DeanneMauro98@cs.comMauro, J., 2003 (Jan 3) Berghia in aquarium. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from http://www.seaslugforum.net/find/8769
In a closed system like your aquarium, Berghia is likely to eat or kill all the Aiptasia. This means it will then starve unless it finds some other sea anemone that tastes satisfactory. I guess the only solution is to keep a separate tank with a stock of Aiptasia in it to feed the Berghia. I know it sounds a bit strange keeping the pest you are trying to destroy, but I guess its only a pest when its infesting your main tank.
October 18, 2002
From: Patrizia Bacci
I am looking for either peppermint shrimps or some Berghia verrucicornis, having a big problem with Aiptasia in my 240 litre saltwater tank, but as i live in Florence Italy, I am finding it impossible to purchase them in this country and also no luck in getting them imported. Can anyone help me with some info on where and how to acquire them?
firstname.lastname@example.orgBacci, P., 2002 (Oct 18) Berghia verrucicornis - where do I get it?. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from http://www.seaslugforum.net/find/8169
The Forum is not really a marketplace for aquarium keepers although I am happy to help if I can. If you look at the page on the slug which eats Aiptasia, you will see I have strong doubts about whether it is really Berghia verrucicornis. True Berghia verrucicornis is in fact Italian, first found in Naples. So if you were to go out to the coast from Florence, there is a fair chance you might be able to find Berghia verrucicornis. What we don't know is if the 'real' B. verrucicornis will eat Aiptasia. If you read through my comments, and the other messages on these pages you will get an idea about our current thoughts on using nudibranchs to control Aiptasia.
October 10, 2002
From: Mafalda N. Madeira
I have at this moment too many "Aiptasia" in my aquarium and I'm desperate to find this species of nudibranch. Can somebody inform me how can I buy it? I live in Portugal.
Please let me know. Thanks in advance.
email@example.comMadeira, M.N., 2002 (Oct 10) Berghia verrucicornis - Where?. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from http://www.seaslugforum.net/find/8142
All I can suggest is you have a look at the others messages attached below yours on this page. The animal that North Americans call Berghia verrucicornis may not be available to you, but as I suggested in my reply to an earlier message, there may be a local alternative at a beach near by.
September 14, 2002
From: Gustavo Duarte
I would like to know if Berghia species occur in south Atlantic waters. If it doesn't occur, can I use other nudibranch from local waters to control Aiptasia problem? Which species can I use?
firstname.lastname@example.orgDuarte, G., 2002 (Sep 14) Berghia sp. in south Atlantic coast. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from http://www.seaslugforum.net/find/7935
By south Atlantic waters do you mean South America? or southern Africa? The advantage of the animal they use in North America and call Berghia verrucicornis is that it can breed in aquarium conditions and so can become a permanent solution to the problem. However most species of the Aeolidiidae [see Species List] feed on sea anemones so most have the potential to eat Aiptasia in aquaria. In particular, species of Berghia, Spurilla, Aeolidiella and Aeolidia would be worth a go.
If you are from Brazil, have a look at Carlo Magenta's message as he has a photo of a likely aeolid from Brazil, even though its idemntity is a bit of a puzzle at present.
June 19, 2002
I noticed you had talked about not knowing what the Berghia werrucicornis being sold online looked like, attached is a few pics of what ours look like. These pics aren't the best, my first tries with a digital camera. I haven't tried to enhance them any yet. I'll try and come up with some clearer pics for you.
LesleaOH@aol.comLeslea, 2002 (Jun 19) Aquarium Berghia photos. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from http://www.seaslugforum.net/find/7131
May 28, 2002
I currently have a 5.5-gallon set up with probably a dozen or two dozen Berghia. They are always laying eggs in the tank so we really have no idea how many are in there. Currently there is about 4 lbs of live rock in the tank with a multitude of copepods and bristle worms. Also there appears to be severely small green and white brittle stars. Only other things in the tank is a couple cerith (sp?) snails. There was a bumblebee snail but he was evicted yesterday. My husband swears there is a small crab in there but I have yet to see it. Now to the problem, in the last couple of days a few of the Berghia appear to have damage to their back ends and cerata keep falling off in the tank. Looks almost like something is trying to bite the back end of the Berghia, which makes me think there just might be a crab. This only started about 2 or 3 days ago. We have started to pull some of the more damaged Berghia out of the tank to put into smaller cubes to observe them. All water quality is fine in the tank, we do frequent water changes by swapping water with a 30-gallon tank with excellent water quality and the temp is between 76-79 degrees. Has anyone experienced crabs or brittle stars attacking Berghia? Today I saw a bristle worm come out of the rock and go to one of the injured Berghia that had bad damage on its back end. When I took it out of the tank, a lot of the cerata fell off. Any help is greatly needed.
Thank you in advance.
email@example.comLeslea, 2002 (May 28) Berghia Help Please. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from http://www.seaslugforum.net/find/7043
We'll have to see if anyone has experienced a similar event. As you will probably have seen on the Forum, dropping of cerata, can be a defensive strategy in some aeolids. I suspect something is irritating them enough to cause them to cast off cerata, so a crab would be a reasonable thought, though I am not sure why it has only just started to do so. I guess a bristle worm would also be a candidate for villain. All I can say is keep an eye out and see if you can catch the culprit.
May 10, 2002
From: Phil C.
Dear Dr. Bill & Vincent,
Concerning this discussion. I spend a lot of time reading saltwater aquarium forums, and this is what I have read many, many times:
Aiptasia are extremely difficult to get rid of. If you try to scrape, mutilate, or severely damage them, usually each piece will grow into another anemone. Thus, easily multiplying your problem. Most chemical methods for killing them involve tediously dripping/squirting corrosive substances onto/into them (such as concentrated limewater or muriatic acid). This would probably not be a good idea with food oysters.
The most trusted and easiest method seems to be the "natural" way. There are three animals reported to readily eat Aiptasia (in the US aquarium trade): the Copperband Butterflyfish (Chelmon rostratus), the Peppermint Shrimp (Lysmata wurdemanni), and, of course, "Berghia verrucicornis". I do not know if any of these creatures are endemic to Tahiti, but I suspect a species of Lysmata Shrimp could be found locally. Of course any local animals that eat Aiptasia would be preferable to importing a species. There may even be a local species of nudibranch that would eat the Aiptasia (Dr. Rudman???).
It still amazes me how many species are unnamed, and how many more we know nothing about.
firstname.lastname@example.orgPhil C., 2002 (May 10) Re: More information: fighting Aiptasia. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from http://www.seaslugforum.net/find/6920
May 6, 2002
From: Vincent Prasil
Thanks for all your comments. I have had a look at the other links, plus searched on the net about all the ways we should apply to fight Aiptasia. I know it's not a Forum about anemones here and we all know here that biological control is a frightening concept, with a history of many disasters. I will explain why we are thinking about importing Berghia verrucicornis, or whatever the sea slug is that eats Aiptasia..
The infection is occurring because:
• Aiptasia (pallida, pulchella?) is naturally present in French Polynesia.
• It's population is normally controlled by some fishes, and some Hermit Crabs, and perhaps other crustaceans.
• Pearl oysters are in open water, where no fish nor predator can reach them (only big fishes, which should eat them, but that's another story).
• When they are near coral reef or little depth, they stay clean, because of the fish cleaning system.
• These artificial supports – ie pearl oyster – are millions and millions, without predation
• Cleaning practice is mechanical, using high pressure water, which leaves a perfect place for new colonisation (again and again).
• all cleaning waste is returned back in the lagoon, with eggs and all living fragments ! (we are fighting against this)
Your suggestion of attracting anemone-eating fish will be soon tested, using artificial structures as protection. Hoping they won't follow the line (!) to the lagoon ground, which is about 30 to 50 meters deep.
PS : Any further information or ideas are welcome !!
email@example.comPrasil, V., 2002 (May 6) More information: fighting Aiptasia. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from http://www.seaslugforum.net/find/6894
I guessed from your message that Aiptasia was only a problem when the pearl oysters were away from the reef. I thought Aiptasia became a problem in aquaria because of its 'vegetative' reproductive strategy. Is this also the case 'in the wild' or do they also reproduce sexually and have a planktonic larval stage? If they only reproduce vegetatively it would seem that the 'seedling' oysters are infested with Aiptasia before they are put in the open sea. Which would suggest it might be an idea to find a way of cleaning them before they are put in open water.
I'm sure you have thought of all these possibilites. My feeling is that some how you should try and make use of the natural Tahitian predators. I hope you have success in making some artificial 'homes' for anemone-eating fish.
May 3, 2002
From: Vincent Prasil
I am biologist in Tahiti, where we have a very big general problem of infestation of Aiptasia sp. Black-lipped pearl oysters are grown in clear water, where there is no predator like fish (Chaetodon) to eat Aiptasia. So the anemones entirely cover the black lip pearl oysters, so you can't see the bivalve. The problem began in 1994. We are thinking in importing Berghia verrucicornis (which is not present in French Polynesia).
The question is : does Berghia verrucicornis eat something other than Aiptasia (like other anemones)? I would also like any information about the reproduction of Berghia verrucicornis, and if there is an aquatic planktonic larval stage/step.
We are searching for biological control of Aiptasia sp. in French Polynesia. I would be grateful for your opinion on how to limit Aiptasia population in open water conditions.
Prasil, V., 2002 (May 3) Aiptasia control in open water conditions. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from http://www.seaslugforum.net/find/6810
Thanks for your message. I was reading recently that cultured pearls from Tahitian black-lipped pearl oysters now represent 30% of world production.
Firstly about Berghia verrucicornis. There is in my mind considerable doubt that the animal sold in the USA for control of Aiptasia in aquaria is really Berghia verrucicornis. However I will continue to call it that for simplicity. If you look at the other messages on this page, and also on the page I have for messages about Aiptasia control in aquaria, you will find links to the sort of information your are interested in. It has a non-feeding but planktonic larval stage [lecithotrophic] so the chances of restricting it to an aquaculture site would be slim. In aquaria it seems to be only interested in Aiptasia but I know of no real study of the species in the wild to be able to comfidently say it will only eat Aiptasia.
Mnay mistakes around the world have made 'Biological control' a very frightening concept as unfortunately it has often ended in disaster. You should be aware that one of the worst disasters concerns land snails in French Polynesia, where a small carnivorous landsnail from Florida, Euglandina, was introduced to control another introduction, the Giant African Landsnail, Achatina. Instead of controlling Achatina it ate a unique radiation of endemic landsnails of the genus Partula to extinction. I understand it has recently been introduced into New Caledonia despite strong protests from many biologists. It will now undoubtedly endanger the endemic fauna of New Caledonia. I would strongly advise against introducing this nudibranch into the Pacific. There is no way it could be controlled if it became a pest.
Perhaps there is some other way? If the oysters are on artificial plates, ropes etc, where is the infection occurring? If it is before they are transferred to the open water then perhaps there is some way of cleaning them. The other possibility would be to rely on the fact that the oysters can close up and survive some time out of water. Perhaps it is possible to kill the anemones by removing the plates from the water for a period of time - or even physical removal by scrubbing?
The other question is whether Aiptasia is a natural part of the local fauna. If so, perhaps you need to investigate why they grow out of control at the aquaculture site. Perhaps what needs to change is the methodology. Perhaps some artificial habitat to attract anemone-eating fish would be an answer?
All I can say is that the thought of introducing an animal we know so little about to the Pacific fills me with dread. In Australia, the government research organisation CSIRO, has a division solely working on biological control. Before an organism is introduced into Australia to control some introduced pest, a research laboratory is set up in the country of origin of the control agent and many years investigation conducted before any trials are conducted in Australia. Biological control is a dangerous weapon unless the organisms involved are well understood - and in this case they clearly are not.
March 9, 2002
From: Steve Kempf
This is an answer to a number of questions posed on this web site concerning Berghia verrucicornis. In the USA, they may be purchased from Inland Aquatics whhere they are listed as "Nudibranch, Aiptasia Eating" http://www.inlandaquatics.com/prod/tr_invert.html
I've been raising them for years and the only things I've been able to get them to eat are species of Aiptasia. They appear to be very specific. (Please don't write and ask me for some, my job keeps me extremely busy. I'm not set-up to be a mail order service and I'll just refer you to Inland Aquatics.)
One reason that B. verrucicornis works so well (at least in some instances) at ridding aquaria of Aiptasia is that they have lecithotrophic larvae that metamorphose very soon after they hatch from the egg mass. Thus, starting with a couple of specimens, if the aquarium environment is right, you very rapidly (in a month or so) build up a large population of these nudibranchs that then go on to decimate the entire Aiptasia population in the tank. Once the Aiptasia are gone, the Berghia starve (since they won't eat anything else), shrink over time and eventually die if more Aiptasia are not supplied.
As Bill Rudman (hi Bill, been a long time since we''ve communicated) said, sometimes conditions in an aquarium are not right, or you're just unlucky, and the Berghia you put in the tank die or are killed before they have a chance to get a population going.
One way to get around this is to culture them in a separate aquarium until you have a large number, i.e. put your Berghia in a separate small tank (with proper filtration that won't suck them into the filter), add a bunch of Aiptasia of various sizes and keep adding more as they are eaten. The Berghia will lay many egg masses on the glass sides of the tank, and if the water quality is good enough, these will hatch (takes about 11 days at 24 degrees C), and the larvae (really tiny, about 200 um) will metamorphose into juveniles. If everything goes right these will feed on the Aiptasia (you won't see them at first because they are too small) and eventually grow into adults. Once you have a bunch of them, they can be released into your main tank to do their thing. Do realize that, as with your large tank, the environment has to be right in order for this to work.
If I can find the time, I'll send a few pictures of the "for real" Berghia verrucicornis at a future date.
References concerning the culture of Berghia verrucicornis are:
• Carroll, D.J. and S.C. Kempf. 1990. Laboratory culture of the aeolid nudibranch Berghia verrucicornis (Mollusca, Opisthobranchia): Some aspects of its development and life history. Biological Bulletin, 179: 243-253.
• Kempf, S.C. and D.J. Carroll. 1996. Berghia verrucicornis Glasrosenfressende Nacktschnecke. In, Fossa, S.A. and A.J. Nilsen. Korallenriff-Aquarium. 5. Birgit Schmettkamp Verlag, Bornheim, Germany: pp. 269-271.
• Kempf, S.C. and M. Brittsan. 1996. Berghia verrucicornis, a nudibranch predator of the aquarium "weed" anemone Aiptasia. Proceedings of the American Zoo and Aquarium Association: Regional Conference. Audubon Park & Zoological Garden, New Orleans. pp. 95-99.
Hope this clears a few things up.
firstname.lastname@example.orgKempf, S., 2002 (Mar 9) Berghia verrucicornis - aquarium culture. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from http://www.seaslugforum.net/find/6364
I look forward to some photos of the aquarium Berghia verrucicornis.
Anyone interested in Steve's references will find two of them available online - see Fact Sheet.
February 15, 2002
From: John D. Bessette
I have a bad Aiptasia problem in my reef tank and would like to know the best species of nudibranch that will eat these pests and where can I buy these critters? Thank you,
Johnnypatriots@aol.comBessette, J.D., 2002 (Feb 15) Aiptasia - help please. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from http://www.seaslugforum.net/find/6249
As I was in danger of being swamped with queries such as yours, I have set up a Special Page for those of you whose lives have been made a misery by Aiptasia. Check out the suggestions and many messages on that page.
January 23, 2002
From: Juan Lucas Cervera
I strongly agree with your comments. Be careful with the importation of species from other geographical areas! Moreover, I'm not sure even that the Berghia verrucicornis from the Caribbean Sea was the same species that the European coasts.
January 21, 2002
From: Thierry Reynier
I am living in Sweden and can't find any Berghia to buy in my country. Since I'll make a trip to Tampa (Florida) in February, I wonder if you know if it's possible to buy some Berghia in the Tampa area.
Thanks for any help.
email@example.comReynier, T., 2002 (Jan 21) Desperate search for Berghia. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from http://www.seaslugforum.net/find/6051
I guess you want Berghia verrucicornis because you have an infestation of Aiptasia in your aquarium. Why don't you have a look at your local fauna for an alternative? Aeolidia papillosa, Aeolidiella glauca and Aeolidiella sanguinea all probably occur in Sweden and all eat sea anemones, A. sanguinea in fact being reported to eat a species of Aiptasia. It may be a bit cold at present but it would be much more sensible than trying to import an animal from the Caribbean.
January 21, 2002
From: Tom Kozicki
Does anyone know where I can order some of these critters. All the places listed in recent postings either have been removed from the web or no longer have a stock of Berghia.
Tkozi98765@aol.comKozicki, T., 2002 (Jan 21) Where to get Berghia verrucicornis. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from http://www.seaslugforum.net/find/6052
I'm afraid aquarium suppliers seem to very temporary, or else change their web site addresses quite often. Try searching the web for either Berghia or Berghia verrucicornis. Try a good search engine such as www.google.com. If you have success let us know so we can keep up to date
December 6, 2001
From: David Fisher
Just an update to let you all know about my experiences with Berghias in my tank. Recall that I was doing a better job at cultivating Aiptasia than coral, so finally plunked down my $$$ and ordered two breeder Berghias from SeaSlug.vs.aiptasia. They arrived, I acclimated them and placed them in a refugium inside my main tank (made it easier to keep track of them and view their progress). I then placed several smallish Aiptasia in the refugium and essentially left them alone, peeking in now and again.
After several days, I noticed that I could no longer find one of the Berghia, some of the Aiptasia were gone, and there were spirals of what looked like egg cases on the glass. I then placed a small frag of polyps that had several big Aiptasia growing amongst them in the refugium. The results have been poor to say the least. No more Aiptasia have been consumed and I can no longer find the Berghia or the "egg cases". What happened?
Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.
firstname.lastname@example.orgFisher, D., 2001 (Dec 6) Are all Berghias equal?. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from http://www.seaslugforum.net/find/5781
I have no personal experience of growing these bought 'Berghia' but I guess they can die, or perhaps they have escaped into your main tank or been eaten by the Aiptasia? Concerning the egg spirals. If they have disappeared then it likely the veliger larvae have hatched out of them. I don't know if the refugium water connects to the water in the main tank but if it does then the larvae have probbaly ende up in the main tank where hopefully they will metamorphose inot slugs and begin eating your Aiptasia. It is also possible that the animals were not Berghia. I have yet to see a decent photo of these animals which are being sold as Berghia. I guess it doesn't matter if they are Berghia or not, as long as they do the job, but if no one knows what they have got there is always the possibility that another species, which doesn't eat anemones, will become part of the misinformation cycle which unfortunately seems to part of the aquarium trade.
Basically there are too many possibilites to say anything very sensible. Since many people have written to say that their Berghia ate all the Aiptasia and are now starving, it is possible that you have just been unlucky.
November 12, 2001
From: David Fisher
My 55 gal. reef tank is decimated by an Aiptasia infestation. The straw that broke the camel's back was when my tridacnid clam died presumably from stings from adjoing Aiptasia. Realizing that I would have no peace until I rid myself of the pests, I bit the bullet and plunked down $32 for 2 Berghias.
Now I just read that Berghia may prey on more than just the Aiptasia. I have a HUGE LTA with host clown and damsel fish. Will they all co-exist happily?
It's a little late to be asking, but I'd still like to know the answer (or entertain any reasonable guesses).
Thanks in advance.
email@example.comFisher, D., 2001 (Nov 12) Say it isn't so! Is Berghia dangerous?. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from http://www.seaslugforum.net/find/5662
'Biological control' always has a bit of risk associated with it. In this case, if your slugs are eating Aiptasia then I guess they could eat other anemones. I am not sure what 'LTA' means but your mention of clown fish suggests it may mean 'Large Tank Anemone' or something similar.
Yes there is a chance that your nudibranch might have a go at a large anemone, but I remember reading years ago about a study on the relationships between a population of Stoichactus, which is one of the large anemones, and their commensal clown fish. That study showed that clown fish became very territorial and aggressive towards anything that approached their anemone. Over 18 months, anemones with clown fish had a much better survival rate than anemones without fish, suggesting that the commensal relationship gave the anemone some protection as well. So perhaps your fish will keep your LTA safe. However there is always the possibility that the fish will mortally wound the Berghia in the process. Sounds better than watching tv!
September 7, 2001
From: Carlo Bortolotti
I've bought some Berghia from www.seaslug-vs-aiptasia.ebz.com and they look the same as the picture in the Julian Sprung and J. Charles Delbeek book (The reef aquarium vol two, Pag 426), the picture that you have in your web site is different but I can not tell it's not Berghia verrucicornis. A long time ago I got some from other source and they look the same as the Berghia that I have now. I think the picture that you have is so colorful (retouched, maybe) or perhaps Berghia lose their color in captivity. only one sure thing: they devour Aiptasia!
firstname.lastname@example.orgBortolotti, C., 2001 (Sep 7) Berghia from seaslug-vs-aiptasia.ebz.com. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from http://www.seaslugforum.net/find/5217
We already have a message from a satisfied customer of this company. If you look at some of the other messages on the Berghia verrucicornis Page you will see there is some debate about the identity of the animals which are sold as Berghia. I can say that the none of the photos on the Forum are 'touched up' to make them more brightly coloured. I have looked at the photos on the website you mention but unfortunately the only one in focus cannot be enlarged so I couldn't look for any characteristic features. It would be interesting to know just what the Berghia verrucicornis being sold by the aquarium trade is, but as you say the important thing is that they eat Aiptasia. Perhaps you could take some photos of your animals?
June 18, 2001
From: Michael Bloss
Aquaticwildlife.com is a defunct link and currently up for sale. The company is now doing business as Captive Bred Corals (http://www.captivebredcorals.com), still using the same phone number. Berghia verrucicornis are still for sale, but they are now listed at $20 (US) apiece with no live delivery guarantee.
In case anyone else ever needs to obtain Aiptaisia to keep their Berghia verrucicornis fed, they can be ordered in the US (except from Hawaii) from Carolina Biological. Their website is: http://www3.carolina.com. Just follow the links to their catalogue.
email@example.comBloss, M., 2001 (Jun 18) Buying Berghia verrucicornis &. Aiptasia. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from http://www.seaslugforum.net/find/4597
June 16, 2001
From: Yvonne Rozsenich
Concerning my last message, I just wanted to let you know that I treat all beings kindly regardless of their intelligence. I don't understand how you can say nudibranchs are not intelligent, I think that it is our own lack of intelligence that limits us in seeing theirs.
firstname.lastname@example.orgRozsenich, Y. , 2001 (Jun 16) Berghia intelligence. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from http://www.seaslugforum.net/find/4582
I am sure you treat all animals with respect, but you seemed to be suggesting we should treat Berghia kindly because it was intelligent, while I feel we should treat all life with respect for no other reason than that it is part of our ecosystem. And if we don't protect our ecosystem we will all perish in the long run.
The reason that the Sea Slug Forum is visited by so many people is that the information on the site is supported by good science and accurate observations. As a professional scientist I could not ignore your comments about Berghia being intelligent because there is no evidence or research to show they, or any other nudibranch, have more than a very rudimentary nervous system and brain.
If you are interested in the subject, Eric Kandel, recently awarded a Nobel Prize for his study of brain behaviour and learning, wrote two important books on Sea Hares, which although somewhat out of date, still provide the best overall works on the topic.
• Kandel,ER (1979): Behavioural Biology of Aplysia. San Francisco, W.H.Freeman & Co. 463pp.
• Kandel,ER (1976): Cellular Basis of Behaviour. An introduction to behavioural neurobiology. W.H.Freeman & Co., San Francisco. 727 pages.
There are other studies on other sea slugs, a couple of which I list below, but on the whole there has been little work on the brain and behaviour of opisthobranchs. All that has been done suggests a very rudimentary 'intelligence' based on the feeding, mating and personal protection.
• Leonard, J.L. & Lukowiak, K .(1984) An ethogram of the sea slug, Navanax inermis (Gastropoda, Opisthobranchia). Z Tierpsychol, 65: 327-345.
• Longley, R.D. & Longley, A.J. (1981) Hermissenda: agonistic behaviour or mating behaviour? The Veliger, 24(3):, 230-231.
June 11, 2001
From: Yvonne Rozsenich
I just wanted people to know that it is possible to raise your own Berghia verrucicornis . I now have approximately three hundred from 2 egg casings - my first attempt. I have learned from others on this site to start raising Aiptasia first. I just wanted to let people know that if you purchase Berghia verrucicornis to get rid of Aiptasia then you should be prepared to save some Aiptasia and raise them well in advance. Please dont let your Berghia starve, you can always send them back or pass them on to someone with an Aiptasia problem. So far I have been able to feed my Berghia with farmed Aiptasia.I am worried about all of these Berghia that peple are buying, I hope they don't end up starving to death. These nudibranchs are extremely intelligent, they communicate with each other and I learn something new from them each day. I have hundreds of Berghia and I am willing to share them with Aiptasia burdened people in the Los Angeles area. email@example.com
firstname.lastname@example.orgRozsenich, Y., 2001 (Jun 11) Berghia verrucicornis to give away. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from http://www.seaslugforum.net/find/4518
Thanks for the offer of Berghia. Basically it is essential to plan before you embark on any enterprise involving live animals. I can't however agree with your comment about these nudibranchs being 'extremely intelligent'. No normal use of the word 'intelligence' could be applied to any nudibranch. It seems your argument for treating them kindly is based on them being 'intelligent', which of course opens up the interesting moral question of whether intelligent beings deserve to be treated more kindly than unintelligent beings. But I don't think the Forum is the place for furthering this interesting line of social philosophy.
March 23, 2001
From: Luis Doallo
They have valuable information about Berghias, nudibranch in general and some pictures as well. I hope this can help.
Doallo@lycos.comDoallo, L., 2001 (Mar 23) Berghia verrucicornis for sale. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from http://www.seaslugforum.net/find/4011
I have had a look at the site and I am inclined to think that the animals in the photos, which are slightly out of focus, are not Berghia verrucicornis. Not that it matters if it solves the Aiptasia problem in aquaria, but I am curious. It would be great to see some good photos of this/these other species.
March 3, 2001
I was asking for a source for Berghia verrucicornis on another forum and came up with an unusual question. I took my info (and pic) that is shown at the top of the Berghia page on your site and a couple of other people on the other forum came up with different pics.
The link to that page is: http://www.reefs.org/ubb/Forum1/HTML/016538.html
Could someone let us or me know if there are different species of this nudibranch or if there could be some possible "commercial deception" going on? The bottom line is that I am interested in getting a couple of Berghia verrucicornis for my reef tank and don't want to make a mistake.
I would appreciate any help you could provide.
email@example.comSteven, 2001 (Mar 3) The identity of Berghia verrucicornis. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from http://www.seaslugforum.net/find/3775
I have wondered at times whether the animal sold commercially is actually Berghia verrucicornis, the photos I have seen seem to be of a very pale uncoloured animal. I don't think there is any deliberate deception going on and whatever it is it seems to happily eat Aiptasia which is why most aquarium keepers want it. But as I have never seen a specimen of it or a photo which is good enough to use for identification I can't say what it is.
Typical Berghia verrucicornis from the Mediterranean has tubercles on the rhinophores. Typical aspects of their colour pattern include an elongate orange spot in front of the rhinophores on either side of head and sometimes a touch of orange over the pericardium hump, just behind the rhinophores. There is also an orange band below the tip of each of the cerata, and there is usually a bright golden patch on the dorsal side of this orange band. It is possible that without their natural food they become very pale and lack the bright pigments of 'free range' animals.
After receiving Jennifer Whitacre's message a few weeks ago I asked her if she would prepare a page for the Forum with photos, on how they culture B. verrucicornis commercially, which she was more than happy to do. Hopefully in a short while we will have that infomation. In the meantime, if you, or anyone with commercially grown Berghia, has some photos they could send me, they would be interesting to look at.
March 2, 2001
From: Yvonne Rozsenich
Could you please tell me if 10 ppm of nitrate is too much for Berghia. I know that they are nitrate sensitive and was wondering what level of nitrates are too high for them. I will be receiving some Berghia soon and since I have millions of Aiptasia in a 180 gallon tank , my nitrates can get pretty high; 10-15ppm. I want them to be safe .
I wanted to let you know that this site is really incredible!
firstname.lastname@example.orgRozsenich, Y., 2001 (Mar 2) Keeping Berghia verrucicornis. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from http://www.seaslugforum.net/find/3875
I'm sorry but I have no idea what nitrate levels Berghia will tolerate. This is not a problem they encounter in the open sea. I guess it is something you should check with your supplier. I'm glad you like the Forum. Sorry I can't help on this occasion.
January 24, 2001
I had three Berghias two days ago, now I have nothing :( I called the person who sold them to me and he told me I have sea spider, now I know I have to inspect every single Aiptasia before feed my Berghias, I want to know if someone has some information about this seaspider, 'cos I don't want to lose more nudibranch.
thanks in advance.
Martell1@yahoo.comCarlos, 2001 (Jan 24) Sea Spiders and Berghia. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from http://www.seaslugforum.net/find/3588
Have a look at Jennifer Whitacre's message for some information on Sea Spiders and Berghia. If you have some Sea Spiders they probably aren't as colourful as the photo I have in the Forum.
It is also possible that you have something else in your aquarium that could eat Berghia. Fish, crabs, octopus will all eat nudibranchs in aquaria so unless you know that everything else in your tank is polite and vegetarian I wouldn't just blame Sea Spiders, especially if you haven't actually seen any.
January 19, 2001
From: Jennifer Whitacre
I work at a large inland mariculture facility breeding Berghia verrucicornis. In the course of feeding and breeding I have come across a small (1/16-1/4")[= 6mm approx] sea spider, or pycnogonid that seems to be a parasite of the sea anemone Aiptasia. It also seems to be associated with, perhaps causing, the death of a number of Berghia.
The questions seem to be:
Is this a predator of Berghia? (I think the spider only hurts the nudi because the host anemone is threatened.) What else do they eat? I have watched them feed on other types of weed anemone. We are concerned that the pycs may harm soft corals and other anemones. How can I get rid of them? I am at a total loss, on this one.
I will eagerly await any information I can find about the Sea Spider.
Thanks For Your Time,
email@example.comWhitacre, J., 2001 (Jan 19) Pycnogonids and Berghia verrucicornis. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from http://www.seaslugforum.net/find/3564
Basically they are a bit aggressive and although they do eat hydroids and apparently other sessile cnidarians, they also are partial to a range of other soft bodied animals including sea slugs. If you look at the pycnogonid page you will find a couple of references from The Veliger to pycnogonids and sea slugs. Basically I don't think they are good aquarium friends. I have no idea how you can get rid of them.
Concerning your cultivation of Berghia verrucicornis. I get many inquiries from aquarium hobbyists about this animal. It would be nice to have some background information on how you 'farm' these animals, perhaps with some photos?
October 7, 2000
From: Thomas Ipsen
I would like to know if it's possible to keep Berghia verrucicornis in an aquarium together with host anemones (for clownfish) like the Heteractis crispa? I mean does Berghia verrucicornis eat (sea) anemones other than Aiptasia?
firstname.lastname@example.orgIpsen, T., 2000 (Oct 7) Berghia verrucicornis and other sea anemones?. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from http://www.seaslugforum.net/find/3094
Although B. verrucicornis eats Aiptasia in aquaria, in the wild it feeds on other sea anemones. I am not sure whether it would feed on the host anemones of clown fish. I can remember reading some time ago of an experiment studying the relationship between clown fish and their host anemones and it concluded that anemones with commensal clown fish survived much longer in the wild than those without, suggesting that the territorial behaviour of the clown fish protected the anemone. I don't know whether such protection would extend to fending off feeding excursions by a nudibranch, but perhaps its worth a try.
June 7, 2000
From: Berndt Nollmeyer
I"m seawater aquarist with problems with the sea anemone Aiptasia. Does anybody know a slug that eats this species. I am from Germany so an European species would be the most interesting.
BNollmeyer@t-online.deNollmeyer, B, 2000 (Jun 7) Aiptasia problems. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from http://www.seaslugforum.net/find/2509
There is indeed a nudibranch that feeds on Aiptasia and it is found naturally in both the Mediterranean and the east coast of North America. It is an aeolid called Berghia verrucicornis. If you look above your message your will find some background information on the species and if you look below your message you will find earlier messages on the topic including some addresses of suppliers in the US. I don't think there are any suppliers in Europe.
February 26, 2000
From: Bryan Schroeder
I have been trying to locate a reasonable place to purchase Berghia verrucicornis The only place I found wanted $30 a piece. Does anyone know where I can find some for sale?
email@example.comSchroeder, B., 2000 (Feb 26) Buying Berghia verrucicornis. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from http://www.seaslugforum.net/find/1970
Have a look at earlier messages on the subject, which are below yours on this page. I don't know how much people charge but i think there is more than one source.
February 14, 2000
From: Gary J. Robinson
Gary J. Robinson
firstname.lastname@example.orgRobinson, G.J., 2000 (Feb 14) Aquaculture of Berghia verrucicornis. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from http://www.seaslugforum.net/find/1893
I've checked out the article and have asked if I can post a copy on the Forum. From the number of queries we receive about Berghia it should prove a well visited article.
February 7, 2000
From: Peter Myers
Recently, I have heard that certain nudibranchs are very good as a natural predators of Aiptasia in reef tanks.
Of the three species that I have been told of:
1) Berghia verrucicornis
2) Baeolidia nodosa
3) Spurilla neapolitana
which would be the best choice in not destroying living corals but preying on Aiptasia? Concerning the availability of this species, where in California could you recommend that I call to locate them?
email@example.comMyers, P., 2000 (Feb 7) Removing Aiptasia from reef tanks. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from http://www.seaslugforum.net/find/1871
To those of you who are new to the Forum, and haven't sampled the continuing Aiptasia correspondence, Aiptasia is a sea anemone that grows like a weed in aquaria. Peter, if you look at the messages below yours on this page, you will find an interesting discussion on the subject.
All the aeolid nudirbanchs you have in your list above feed on sea anemones so they are all potentially useful. Nudibranchs, on the whole, are very specific feeders, so anemone eaters are unlikely to feed on hard or soft corals. However your best bet is Berghia verrucicornis because, as you will see in the messages below, there are a couple of suppliers breeding them for sale in the USA.
However, a word of caution. Biological control is fraught with danger! One of our correspondents became so attached to their Berghia that they felt rather guilty when there were no Aiptasia left and their Berghia began to starve. If you have a soft spot, perhaps you should keep a few Aiptasia in a holding tank so that you can keep your Berghia alive until the next sea anemone infestation.
January 7, 2000
From: Joey Berkley
My name is Joey Berkley
I am an employee at the Aquatic Wildlife Company.
We are a mariculture facility in Cleveland, TN, and we raise and sell Aptasia-eating Berghia
The cost is $12.95 each. We also carry tank raised fish, coral frags, critters for wholesale and retail.
You may contact us toll free at 1-877-229-3405 Also visit our website www.aquaticwildlife.com (currently under construction)
December 24, 1999
From: Michael Phan
Hi there Dr Rudman,
I am Michael who gave you a message before about the Berghia verrucicornis, and I am still waiting for something to pop up in Australia to tell me that the species of Nudibranch is here.
I won't try the Spurilla australis in my tank because you say that it munches on the anenome and I do not want to try it on my tank because it has an anenome.
But I will try to get a separate tank and see what kind of anenome wil it munch on.. i wil not sacrifice my anenome for a nudibranch that i have not tried before. But all is in for science i guess and i love the marine like al of the peoples that have left message on your site and the only thing is that most of those peoples have access to the Nudibranch that i needed for my research but if the Spurilla australis is the next one that is on my list then i wll go for it..
I will kepp on searching for the Notorious Berghia verrucicornis for the good of all scientist in Australia.
Michael.Phan@compaq.comPhan, M., 1999 (Dec 24) Spurilla australis. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from http://www.seaslugforum.net/find/1708
You will see that we have had a lot of correspondence about Berghia verrucicornis since you wrote. There is almost no possibility of you finding that species in Australia as it is normally found in the Atlantic. Even though on a map the sea seems to be continuous, there are quite distinct geographic with their only special animals and plants, much like on the land. The only way Berghia verrucicornis could be found in Australia is if someone irresponsibly released it.
December 17, 1999
From: Carrie Clark
I am interested in purchasing a nudibranch, or even a pair of them. I need to in order to combat the Aiptasia anemones growing in my reef tank. They have become out of control and have begun to sting many of my corals. I have tried a copperband butterfly and he did a great job eating all my feather dusters and polyps, but has not eaten the Aiptasia. I would prefer some colorful nudibranchs, but I don't know much about them and thus far have been unable to locate any. I live in Massachusetts. If anyone has some for sale or knows a reputable place to get them from please let me know.
firstname.lastname@example.orgClark, C., 1999 (Dec 17) Looking to buy a nudibranch.... [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from http://www.seaslugforum.net/find/1680
The nudibranch you need is Berghia verrucicornis. Have a look at the messages below yours on that page, and you will find a reference to a place in Indiana who can supply you with Berghia.
October 1, 1999
From: Michele Brown
I wanted to let the readers know that I live in Ohio, USA and I have purchased 1 pair of Berghia from Inland Aquatics located In Terra Haute IN. that David Behrens has previously mentioned on Sept. 23, 99. They are about 1/2" to 3/4" long and so beautiful. We have now had 4 pairs in our tanks and are sharing them with a local saltwater shop.
Now for the funny part. We need Aiptasia badly. I don't want to let these beautiful creatures die from starvation. I called Inland Aquatic and they do not have any to ship. Any suggestions from any of you out there? Shy of starting a refugium or small tank for Aiptasia culturing, which is where we are headed, I need a supplier now for them. I have no idea how well they ship. I have just about run out of room for more live rock which is what I have been purchasing.
For those who are interested in adding Berghia to their tanks. Be advised that you may not see them for a couple of weeks after introducing them to your tank. They are, I find, more of an evening roaming creature at first and make it to the daylight after some time in their new home. They mate quickly and have a spiral egg mass present to behold.
Any comments are welcome and remember I am wanting your Aiptasia.
email@example.comBrown , M., 1999 (Oct 1) Re: Berghia verrucicornis v. Aiptasia. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from http://www.seaslugforum.net/find/1390
Thanks for the wonderful story, I've been smiling all day. The use of biological control methods have caused disasters in many parts of the world - Cane Toads in Australia, Mongoose in Hawaii, the carnivorous snail Euglandina in the Pacific. In all cases they never ate the animal they were supposed to and became much greater pests in their own right. At least Berghia does the job it was asked to do - just too well. I was going to say try some local anemones, but I guess in Ohio you don't have any 'local' marine anemones.
I guess growing your own anemones may be the only way to go. Have a look at Michael Phan's
message where I give a reference to an article by Carroll & Kempf on growing both Aiptasia and Berghia in inland aquaria.
I don't know if you have the facilities, but if you do, I would love photos of some commercial Berghia.
September 23, 1999
From: Dave Behrens
As the war against aquarium-devastating Aiptasia increases, I have noticed the increasing traffic to your site and Michael Miller's, requesting sources for Berghia verrucicornis as a last ditch biological control strategy against the notorious glass anemone. I receive weekly requests for information myself.
With the persistence of a frustrated aquarist, I have learned of and confirmed a source of living Berghia. While I agree with your many responses that using an aeolid as a biological weapon may not provide the desired results in the war against Aiptasia, I offer up the following.
Inland Aquatics, located in Terra Haute, Indiana, USA (US telephone number
Web site: http://www.inlandaquatics.com
sells cultured Berghia for $24.99US each. I spoke with them this morning and they confirmed that they maintain a cultured (Indo- Pacific) stock of Berghia, fed on Aiptasia, ready for the aquarist in need.
I offer this information as an option, with no guarantees.
David W. Behrens
Sea Challengers Natural History Books
firstname.lastname@example.orgBehrens, D., 1999 (Sep 23) Berghia verrucicornis versus Aiptasia. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from http://www.seaslugforum.net/find/1365
Thanks very much. Your message will gladden the hearts of many aquariists.
Could I add a note of caution to all aquarium keepers. If you obtain any aquarium animals which are not normally found where you live please do not 'let them go' into the local environment if you lose interest in your aquarium. You may think you are doing the correct or humane thing by letting them live, but you could be introducing a major pest to your local environment.
In Australia many inland waterways are now infested with exotic snails and fish, which have 'escaped' from aquaria. In the marine environment, we are not sure where the introductions are from, (probably ship's ballast water), but many exotic pests, both animal and plant are devastating and changing for ever, local ecosytems. I suspect that Berghia verrucicornis and the anemone Aiptasia could both become pests if released into the wild. So please, if you have 'exotic' organisms in your aquarium, be careful, and treat them, and the water in your aquarium, as poison to the local environment.
Bill Rudman.Rudman, W.B., 1999 (Sep 23). Comment on Berghia verrucicornis versus Aiptasia by Dave Behrens. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from http://www.seaslugforum.net/find/1365
August 31, 1999
From: Ara Vaporciyan
I am building a 60 gallon reef tank and have a small problem with the sea anemone Aiptasia. In my readings I have heard that certain species of nudibranch will eat Aiptasia while largly leaving hard and soft corals unmolested. The specific species I have been looking into are Berghia verrucicornis, Baeolidia nodosa and Spurilla neapolitana. If you have any information about these species and how I could obtain them for sale it would be a big help.
email@example.comVaporciyan, A., 1999 (Aug 31) Aiptasia-eating nudibranchs. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from http://www.seaslugforum.net/find/1266
If you do find a source of either nudibranch could you let us know so I can inform the next aquariists asking for help.
August 21, 1999
From: Anthony Donovan
Hi I`m Anthony Donovan and I currently have a 150 gal reef aquarium that has a slight Aiptasia problem. I want to use a natural form of predation instead of any chemical use and want to keep my hands out of the tank. I`ve read of 2 types of Nudibranchs that feed on Aiptasia while leaving other corals and anemones alone. The two that I read of are Dondice occidentalis, (a Caribbean species), and Berghia verrucicornis,(occurs on the coral rubble in the shallow waters of southern Florida). However, i`ve tryed looking up these animals on the web just to see what they looked like and also tryed to find out how i may obtain one or two of these animals with no luck. I had also tryed using the copperbanded butterfly fish,(which just refused to eat them and died within a week dispite my best efforts), and a Racoon butterfly fish that loved them. The ones it could get at though. After that, the fish decided to munch on some prized corals. can you direct me as to where i may see what these nudibanchs look like and where i may obtain some? Thanks for your time...
firstname.lastname@example.orgDonovan, A., 1999 (Aug 21) The Aiptasia problem revisited. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from http://www.seaslugforum.net/find/1222
You'll find a picture of Berghia verrucicornis at the top of this page, and if you look at the messages below yours on this page you will find that you are not the first one with an Aiptasia problem. If you look at my replies to the earlier questions you will see that there is nothing much more I can say.
I must say that perhaps you should think of removing some with your hands. Although you can try to be as 'natural' as possible, in reality a closed system like an aquarium cannot mimic a real marine ecosystem which is essentially open to visiting predators, currents etc, etc.
July 16, 1999
Dear Dr Rudman,
I've really enjoyed your web site, very interesting, informative and packed full of information - Thanks!
The reason for my interest is that I'm looking into the use of the Nudibranch Berghia verrucicornis (B.V.) as a biological control agent for Aptasia in Aquariums. Do you know of any research work that has been done on the release of B.V. into established (and stocked) large aquariums? Has there been any detriment to the fish stocks? Also what is the relative success of the introduction on eradicating the Aptasia. And finally, do you know any stockist where the B.V. maybe purchased from (in New South Wales?).
Any information would be gratefully received!
With Thanks and Kind Regards,
If you have a look at my answer to Michael Phan's message about a year ago, you will find I have posted a couple of links to Steve Kempf's research publications on the very topic you are interested in. I know of no Australian stockist of Berghia.
More generally, Aiptasia is a northern hemisphere species. If you have you got it in your aquarium it is quite worrying, as marine animals from other parts of the world are not good news if they get loose in Australian waters. At present in Tasmania there are major problems with a north Pacific sea star and introduced sea weeds, and in Port Philip Bay in Victoria the ecosystems in large parts of the bay have been destroyed by a European fan worm which has gone wild. If you have Aiptasia could you make sure you don't let any loose in the environment and could you let me know where you got them so we can make sure they don't become a problem here.
If on the other hand, you have some local species of sea anemone going wild in your aquarium, perhaps you should consider getting some local nudibranchs to eat them. There are a number of candidates which might be useful. If you are interested, let me know and I will put up some pictures of local sea anemone-feeding aeolids.
June 20, 1999
I was reading your information on Aiptasia and how they can over run your tank. well, guess what, i am having that problem. i have tried to purchase the Berghia at the store, but the prices are so high. any word on a distributor in the US via online that i can purchase these?
it was suggested by the store to try online. i found your articles very interesting. thanks for any advice you can offer.
Davo145981@aol.comDavid, 1999 (Jun 20) Where can I get Berghia verrucicornis?. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from http://www.seaslugforum.net/find/959
I would be interested to know just how much they charge for a Berghia. I have no idea whether you live by the sea, and if so where, so I can't really suggest that you go looking for some anemone-eating nudibranchs yourself.
I'm afraid I have no knowledge of the commercial side of nudibranchs - although sometimes I dream about making a fortune out of them - but if anyone can help with a source of Berghia there seem to be a lot of aquariists out there who would appreciate some help.
February 24, 1999
From: Ward Spruyt
I didn't see too many participants from Europe but also in Belgium we can have some serious problems with Aiptasia (esp. A. majano).
Can anybody tell me if Berghia species are already for sale in Europe or if there are some researchers breeding them in Europe?
email@example.comSpruyt, W., 1999 (Feb 24) Can I get Berghia in Europe?. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from http://www.seaslugforum.net/find/612
I guess you mean Aiptasia is a problem in aquaria. Perhaps someone can help with information.
October 19, 1998
From: Gary Swanberg
I am looking for a place in which I can purchase some Berghia verrucicornis. I live in Tracy, California which is up near Stockton. If you know of any locations near here, they would be most convenient. However, any locations in the U.S. are fine. Thank you for your help.
firstname.lastname@example.orgSwanberg, G., 1998 (Oct 19) Where do I buy Berghia verrucicornis?. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from http://www.seaslugforum.net/find/269
Sorry, but I'm a bit far away for local knowledge. Hopefully one of our US participants will read this and come to your aid. Alternatively a search on the species name brings up a lot of links, many aquarium based so perhaps one of them may give you an answer. ... Bill Rudman
August 15, 1998
I AM INTERESTED IN FINDING INFORMATION ON AIPTASIA EATING NUDIBRANCHS. THEIR NAME AND WHERE THEY MAY BE BOUGHT WOULD BE VERY HELPFUL.
Dear Lee, the slug you are interested in is Berghia verrucicornis. Have a look at my answer to Michael Phan's question on the same topic below . I guess you live in the USA, so unlike Michael, you might be able to find an aquarium shop that has this nudibranch for sale. .. Bill Rudman.Rudman, W.B., 1998 (Aug 15). Comment on Aiptasia eating nudibranch by LEE . [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from http://www.seaslugforum.net/find/209
July 2, 1998
From: Michael Phan
About a species
Hi there, I was surfing the net to looks for a specific species of the nudibranch family. It is called the Berghia verrucicornis, now I have never seen the creature and that is pretty bad because I need to identify the creature and locate where it is so that I can continue my research on the creature and it's diet of the Aiptasia.
If you can help me with those then I would be very greatful.
New South Wales,
email@example.comPhan, M., 1998 (Jul 2) Info about Berghia verrucicornis. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from http://www.seaslugforum.net/find/35
Dear Michael, I'm afraid it is not a very good animal to study in Australia because its normal home is the Atlantic Ocean. It is one of a particularly interesting group of aeolid nudibranchs which keep single-celled plants (zooxanthellae) alive in their bodies and take the sugars the plants produce and use them for their own nutrition. I describe them as "Solar-powered" because they get much of their energy from sunlight (via the plants). Have a look at the Solar-powered nudibranch page for more information on this animal-plant relationship. Most of the nudibranchs which have zooxanthellae in their tissues, get them by eating another animal which already has zooxanthellae. Berghia verrucicornis feeds on sea anemones, and in North America the anemone it commonly eats is Aiptasia, which can have zooxanthellae in its body. Aquarium hobbyists in the USA are interested in Berghia because at times Aiptasia can become a pest in aquaria. The sea anemone breeds by breaking off parts of its foot and each piece can grow into a whole animal. Clusters of Aiptasia can quickly cover the sides of an aquarium. Berghia is quite useful in keeping down the numbers of the sea anemone in an aquarium. Some further information on Berghia verrucicornis can be found at the following websites. Unfortunately I don't know of a good photo of it on the web. I have also added some information on Spurilla australis which is a similar Australasian species... Bill Rudman
•Berghia verrucicornis, A Nudibranch Predator Of The Aquarium "Weed" Anemone Aiptasia by Stephen C. Kempf (1996)
•Laboratory Culture of the Aeolid Nudibranch Berghia verrucicornis (Mollusca, Opisthobranchia): Some Aspects of Its Development and Life History by David J. Carroll & Stephen C. Kempf. Biol. Bull. 179: 243-253. (December 1990)