Keeping sea slugs in captivity
May 5, 2010
From: Jason Brooks
I would like to know if it is legal to buy or capture !!!LEGALLY!!! a Phyllidia ocellata.
email@example.comBrooks, J., 2010 (May 5) Is It Possible To legally Purchase Phyllidia ocellata?. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from http://www.seaslugforum.net/find/23607
There are international laws preventing the trade in some endangered species such as elephant ivory and turtle shells but such examples are very rare. Individual countries have laws banning the collection of particular species but they are often complicated and difficult to enforce.
I am afraid nudibranchs have become a 'by catch' in the aquarium trade which are mainly concerned with tropical fish and what they curiously call 'live rock'. Any aquarium shop that says nudibranchs are easy to keep in aquaria and are herbivorous is at worst lying and at best doesn't know what they are talking about. See my earlier comments on keeping slugs in captivity.
In particular, species of Phyllidia are likely to fight back and cause great problems if put into aquaria [see my comments in message #23360]
March 19, 2010
From: Jupiter dale
I had ordered an assorted color seaslug from my pet store, today i was called to get my slug. I upload 3 images of my green / black slug.
I don't know if it is toxic cause a have a reef aquarium with plenty fishes inside.
I would appreciate an ID, thanks very much.
firstname.lastname@example.orgDale J., 2010 (Mar 19) Unknown sea slug. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from http://www.seaslugforum.net/find/23360
This is a type of slug which I definitely wouldn't advise for an aquarium. In fact there is a message on the Forum from some years ago which is probably the same species as yours [#9376]. In that message I say:
"In my opinion this is a definite no-no in any aquaria. I can't tell from the photo just which species it is, perhaps Phyllidiella pustulosa, but it is a member of the Phyllidiidae. Species of this family exude a milky white secretion which is highly toxic, and recently collected - that is healthy - specimens can kill everything in an aquarium just from their secretions dissolving in the water. [see earlier message]. They are also sponge feeders. The good news is that your animal is probably starving and so is probably unable to produce the toxic secretions. Be that as it may, I think it is highly irresponsible of aquarium shops (aka LFS) to sell potentially toxic animals to unsuspecting customers."
I am afraid there is not a lot more to say. Apart from potentially poisoning other animals in your aquarium, it is a very specialised sponge-feeder, feeding on only a few species of sponge. We know very little about the biology of these slugs so I cant tell you which sponges they eat, and even if I could, it would be most unlikely that you could buy any from a pet shop.
Sorry for bad news,
March 7, 2008
From: R. Grooters & M. Snoek
Concerning message #21421:
This is another good reason NOT to get these kind of animals from the wild, especially not from such countries as the Philippines or Indonesia, where we have seen the underwater world changed due to 'fishing' everything out and sell it to the world. Bad examples are off course all kind of aquarium fish, but if we also start with nudies .......
Reindert Grooters & Mieke Snoek
email@example.comGrooters, R. & Snoek, A., 2008 (Mar 7) Re: Chromodoris annae in aquarium. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from http://www.seaslugforum.net/find/21429
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?
firstname.lastname@example.orgWestermark, M., 2008 (Mar 5) Chromodoris annae in aquarium. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from http://www.seaslugforum.net/find/21421
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.
November 21, 2004
From: joshua sampson
A while back i bought a nudibranch from https://www.aquacon.com which they advertised as being an algae eater. Knowing that the ones there were selling were purple and yellow i thought that they might be blue dorids, and only eat certain types of sponges. I specifically asked them about this and they reassured me that it was a different type that was a great algae eater, also saying that they had had them in their systems for years. after getting the nudibranch he did well at first, but with time shriveled up and died.... I can now only guess that these people were blatantly lying or something else happened to my nudibranch. what can i do about this? I want to call this company and give them a piece of my mind, but i want to be sure first and it would be nice if i had some information to back it up. I'll keep ya'll updated and if they are selling a species saying that it eats something that it doesnt and refuse to change this i would appreciate some others from this forum to write and call them as well. i dont know, i just want to do everything i can to stop this, even if it's just one store at a time.
email@example.comSampson, J., 2004 (Nov 21) Hypselodoris bullocki and aquarium shops. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from http://www.seaslugforum.net/find/12736
Your animal is, or rather, was, Hypselodoris bullocki, or at least something closely related. As you'll see from the correspondence on that page, and this page. these animals are sponge feeders, and most species feed only on one or a very few sponges particular to them. I can't say if the aquarium shops are deliberately misleading you, I suspect they just don't know. Either way it is inexcusable. People selling live animals have a responsibility to know how to care for them, and to pass correct information on to customers. Imagine the outcry if they told buyers of kittens and puppies that all you need to feed them is a handful of grass each day!
March 19, 2004
From: Alan Osborne
You asked about this food several years ago, and did not appear to get an answer about it. Here is the description below. It is available at marinedepot.com
Ocean Nutrition Angel Formula
The first fish food made specifically for Marine Angelfish. Contains their primary natural food - marine sponges. These are combined with fresh seafood's and algae to create a natural balanced diet that enhances breeding color and excellent health.
INGREDIENTS: Krill, Marine Sponges, Shrimp, Green Algae, Spinach, Gel Binder, Kelp, Squid, Mussel, Salmon Roe, Krill Hydrolysate, Krill Meal, Spirulina, Lecithin, Fish Oil, Casein, Astaxanthin, Canthaxanthin (for color enhancement). Vitamins (potassium ascorbate, beta carotene, biotin, hydroxocobalamin [source of vitamin B12], niacin, riboflavin, thiamine HCL). Amino acids (methionine [dl-methionine], L-Lysine, taurine), and trace elements of calcium chloride, potassium iodide, ferrous sulfate, manganese sulfate, magnesium carbonate, and zinc sulfate.
GUARANTEED ANALYSIS: Crude Protein (min) 12.5%, Crude Fat (min) 2.1%, Crude Fiber (max) 6.0%, Moisture (max) 77.8% (Protein as a percentage of dry matter - 56%)
BEST USED FOR: Marine Angelfish specimens, 2 1/2" or longer, which belong to any of the following genera: Pomacanthus, Holocanthus, Apolemichthys, Chaetodontoplus, Pygoplites, or Euxiphipops. This includes Queen Angels, French Angels, Koran Angels, Blue-Face, Imperator, Passer, Asfur, Annularis, Rock Beauties, etc.
firstname.lastname@example.orgOsborne, A., 2004 (Mar 19) Concerning 'angelfood'. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from http://www.seaslugforum.net/find/12450
Thanks for thinking of us. I checked it out and it seems to be a frozen food which I guess is ok for biting animals when it thaws, but the 'teeth' of slugs are not on jaws but on a tongue-like ribbon, so to feed they would need a solid block to scrape on. However I guess anything's worth a try
March 19, 2004
From: Steve Jen
I purchased a Hypselodoris bullocki recently only to find out about how difficult it is to keep sea slugs alive in a tank due to its very specialized dietary needs and its ability to emit toxins when stressed or dead as a defense mechanism. I read an article from this website and it seems only the warty (Phyllididae ??) ones emit toxins. Is that true and does that mean the one I have is alright to be kept in my reef tank?
The store guy told me it eats sponges and plankton and told me not to worry about the toxins as it is minimal (referring to this species only). Your response is appreciated...
email@example.comJen, S., 2004 (Mar 19) Hypselodoris bullocki in aquaria. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from http://www.seaslugforum.net/find/12467
These animals eat sponges, but the critical thing is that they will only eat one or two particular species of sponges. Unless you know what that particular sponge is and have access to living supplies of it, the nudibranch will starve. Species of Hypselodoris don't eat plankton. Concerning their toxicity - they have mantle glands which contain noxious molecules, but they are usually only released when thea animal is physically damaged. As fish don't like the taste of the chemicals they are unlikely to eat enough of them to be poisoned. The aim of the glands is to prevent the slug being eaten. It's not much value to the slug to kill the fish after it has been eaten. On the other hand phyllidiids certainly have much more noxious molecules in their glands. Again they are protective, but they are often exuded from the slug's skin when it is stressed, often on occasions when they are not being attacked by a predator. These chemicals can definitely can kill fish in the surrounding water.
As I said recently to someone else, now that you have the slug you might as well keep it until it dies. It will cause no more damage to the water quality when it dies than any other organism in your tank - but let the store guy know that stocking live nudibranchs for sale is not very responsible
March 18, 2004
I just bought two slugs. A Hypselodoris edenticula and a H. bullocki. I wish I would have read this forum before but did not. I am now with two animals I have no idea what to feed. The memos on this animal are dated a few months ago so I'm hoping that someone has found a food for them that you might be able to share with me. I'm very upset at the fact that I have spent money on an animal that I cannot feed and have the displeasure of watching it die before my eyes. I would also like to ask are these toxic to my small 12 gallon tank. Thank you for any help you can give me.
firstname.lastname@example.orgSusanne, 2004 (Mar 18) Hypselodoris picta in aquaria. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from http://www.seaslugforum.net/find/12479
I am sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but nothing has changed, they require specific sponges which are just not available to the aquarium trade and even if they were, the logistics of keeping colonies alive in home aquaria would not be feasible.
Concerning their toxicity. They do have defensive mantle glands with distasteful chemicals but I can't imagine they would be a problem, in your aquarium. I guess you may as well keep them in your aquarium until they die. Albert Jenner's 'porcelain chair' alternative [message #12443] - which I assume is his delicate way of saying 'flushing them down the toilet' - seems rather a waste.
October 11, 2003
i am an outsider of the study of sea slug studies. i wanna ask that is the sea slug be able to keep in the tank at home, because of i heard that it's impossible for keeping a sea slug as a pet at home.
email@example.comShoei, 2003 (Oct 11) Question of an outsider .... [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from http://www.seaslugforum.net/find/11191
On the whole, sea slugs are not good pet material for the uninitiated. Most have very special needs and are very particular in the food they eat. Most you see in aquariuum shops are quietly and slowly starving to death
March 23, 2003
From: David Clay
I purchased several sea slugs from my LFS which were supposed to be algae eaters. Two Hypselodoris bullocki [purple], one Chromodoris joshi [orange] and one that I can't identify - [upper photo). As I have read in your Forum, they don't eat algae.
Can you help me identify the green sea slug in the photo? Also, can you offer any information on its' feeding and the type of food the Chromodoris joshi will take? From reading your website I can tell there isn't much luck in saving the H. bullocki - do I have a chance with the others?
firstname.lastname@example.orgClay, D., 2003 (Mar 23) More aquarium shop misinformation. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from http://www.seaslugforum.net/find/9376
The story with C. joshi is probably worse than with H. bullocki. We have photos of the sponge H. bullocki feeds on, but C. joshi has been seldom seen and we know nothing of its food, which is almost certainly a sponge.
And finally your black and green slug. In my opinion this is a definite no-no in any aquaria. I can't tell from the photo just which species it is, perhaps Phyllidiella pustulosa, but it is a member of the Phyllidiidae. Species of this family exude a milky white secretion which is highly toxic, and recently collected - that is healthy - specimens can kill everything in an aquarium just from their secretions dissolving in the water. [see earlier message]. They are also sponge feeders. The good news is that your animal is probably starving and so is probably unable to produce the toxic secretions. Be that as it may, I think it is highly irresponsible of aquarium shops (aka LFS) to sell potentially toxic animals to unsuspecting customers.
Sorry I can't be more positive,
December 30, 2002
I am starting a 55 gal salt tank, and have only put live rock, an urchin, and a crab in it to start my filters. Recently I have noticed literally millions of eggs all over my Caulerpa and on the sides of my tank. The eggs are yellow and are in clusters all over. I have only had my tank up for about 2 weeks, and noticed 2 slugs that look like they are possibly Elysia papillosa. Do I need to be concerned about all the eggs, or just let them be. I don't want to let this get out of hand before I get started on my salt adventure.
One "slug" is a brilliant green and the other is a lighter lemon yellow. Both are quick movers, and have 2 lines of "spines" down their upper body and they join into one line down their "tail." I have seen them hang suspended from the water's surface by a "slime" string. Any hints, clues, or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
I would need a photo of the slugs and the eggs - or a reasonable drawing - before could say anything sensible about your animals. Your mention of 'spikes' on the back sound more like a species of Elysia or Placida rather than an Elysia. Whatever you have the eggs are only likelt to cause a population explosion if the larvae hatch, and if they do hatch, they need to survive and develop into slugs. Most sea slugs have larvae that spend some time swimming in the sea feeding on microscopic plants. These larvae are very difficult to keep alive in aquaria. However there are a few species, such as Elysia crispata, whose larvae do survive in aquaria, much to the delight of their owners [see Joe's recent message].
I am afraid without further clues, I can't give you much advice. Perhaps a photo, or some idea where in the world the Caulerpa came from would be a help. My advice would be to wait and see what happens. It could be interesting. I don't know of anyone whose tank has been over run by a sacoglossan sea slug so you are unlikely to end up with a major problem.
June 8, 2002
From: Jim DeMattia
My company Aquaculture 101, cultures red seaweed (Gracilaria pacifica,) which is a great feed for many marine slugs, currently we sell to tropical fish companies and some researchers working with Aplysia californica. I am located in San Diego, CA.. Please email me for more info and prices, we will beat any prices from Florida.
email@example.comDeMattia, J., 2002 (Jun 8) Red Seaweed for sale. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from http://www.seaslugforum.net/find/7182
I don't usually post advertisments for the aquarium trade but your message gives me a chance to reply to the misinformation which the trade is spreading either through ignorance or design. To say as you do that red algae is a "great feed for many marine slugs" is incredibly misleading. As far as I know ONLY Sea Hares, such as Aplysia, will eat it. Other herbivorous sea slugs, such as the sacoglossans, each have very specialised diets, and as far as I know none feed on Gracilaria. Most people who want to keep sea slugs in aquaria, want to keep the bright colourful nudibranchs, and ALL of those are CARNIVORES, quite unable to and quite unwilling to eat Gracillaria or any sea weed, no matter how juicily prepared.
Please stop perpetuating this myth that nudibranchs are easy to keep in home aquaria, because they feed on sea weed. It is untrue and is encouraging a trade which can only help destroy tropical environments and starve many nudibranchs.
May 21, 2002
From: Andy Feifarek
I recently purchased 3 Elysia crispata to assist in the combat of my lovely bryopsis algae problem. I didn't quite take into account my rather large green carpet anemone and was wondering if it may have the desire to zap a nearby Elysia crispata and decide that is would make a nifty little snack. The primary reason that I am concerned about this is that within two days of putting them into the tank, one of them (the larger one) disappeared and I have only been able to find two of them at any given time since I lost the third one.
I doubt that any of the other inhabitants are posing a problem (2 clarki clowns, 1 sailfin tang, 1 flame angel, 1 algae blenny, a dozen or so hermies, 2 cleaner shrimp, and 1 peppermint shrimp). That leaves the anenemoe to be the possible culprit. I did look in my sump and pumps just in case, and have found no sign of him anywhere. Last time I saw him (or all three for that matter) he was within inches of the anemone.
Thanks for any info you may be able to provide.
firstname.lastname@example.orgFeifarek, A., 2002 (May 21) Elysia crispata and Green Carpet Anemones. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from http://www.seaslugforum.net/find/7011
I'm afraid large anemones are always a bit of a problem. I doubt if slugs will actually crawl into them but sometimes slugs do strange things like drift in the water then drop ... , or lower themselves by mucous thread straight on to an anemone. I remember once losing a new species to a large anemone - which regurgitated it a few days later so at least I was able to look at its radular teeth.
Can't really give any advice. Large anemones are good if you want to keep their commensal fish and shrimps happy - but they are a bit of a trap for other life.
March 23, 2002
From: Raymond Mears
I purchased two organisms March 9,2002. They were identified to me as Nudibranchs and algae eaters. I have filimentous algae getting out of hand and figured the people had watched long enough to know proper feeding. I knew at the time they were not Nudibranchs but if they cleared the algae and did not eat coral who cared? My first thought was strange chiton but no plated back and in fact the backs are without shells.
It is now March 21. They do not eat the coral. They do not eat. One no longer grasps the aquarium wall with a firm foot. I suspect they are dying. Before I took your time I regarded it as my duty to do my own research. That did not take long. Suspecting from your page what I might have, I entered Lamellariidae and Velutinidae into search engines. Results were several taxonomic lists. I looked over the feeding info. on your site. I tried the strings feeding Velutinidae and feeding Lamellariidae on your site getting no results.
I have no scanner or close up camera so will give a verbal description. I have seen how often you must tell people they have no hope for feeding some creature and expect the same reply. I would, at least, like to know what I am starving to death. We both reside in English speaking regions so measure is non- metric and only approximate. Largest snail is 1"3/4 long by 3/4 wide. Chiton like hump back max height perhaps 3/4". Unlike a chiton the body can bend to L shape in movement. Back shows no siphon opening, like some of your pictures, on the forehead. Upper body colour is black. Irregular grey patches run longitudinally on top 1/3 of body but are circles or run perpendicular to body axis on sides. Orange knobs are scattered on the grey. They are slightly irregular in size and spacing. At times they will flatten some of the nodules and drop the orange to gray. When they move about, the"forehead" has nudibranch like orange antennae.When they sit still these are not obvious. They do not move much these days.You may know what they mimic which would tell us a little about them.
Moving to the underside,they do have real antennae of about 1/8". Sometime obvious sometime not. I do not see eye spots at the tips. The stalks, foot, entire under surface is gray. Foot has a dark center line. Foot border is crenulated. I have never seen a radula.Do not even see a well defined mouth. I think I have seen an anus at times. Somewhere in reference to the velutinidae I think you mentioned an abalone like foot. That mantle to the substrate,space all around perimeter then foot look is present here also. They leave a slime trail like a garden snail when they move. In fact,when
first obtained they exuded slime from the upper surface as well.
I hope this is enough info. to give me some likely suspects.
email@example.comMears, R., 2002 (Mar 23) Identity of Nudibranch mimic. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from http://www.seaslugforum.net/find/6520
I suspect your animals are a nudibranch of the family Phyllidiidae. Have a look at the page on Phyllidia varicosa. If I am right the slime they exuded from the upper surface when you first got them would have been a white stringy sort of substance. If so, you were lucky they exuded this before they had much contact with your aquarium because the chemicals they exude can be quite toxic to aquarium fish and when freshly caught if the aquarium they are in is left in a closed room there air can become so acrid that your eyes can start streaming and stinging.
Phyllidiids like all nudibranchs are carnivores, in the case of phyllidiids, each species feeds on specific sponges. The chances of matching your slug with its correct food sponge are slight to non-existent. I suppose you should confirm that your slugs are phyllidiids before I suggest what you should say to the person who sold you these as algal eaters. One final check would be to check on the underside of the body to see if it has gills in the gap between the foot and the mantle. [If you look at the page on Torsion and gills there is a photo on the bottom left of Phyllidia ocellata showing typical Phyllidia gills].
March 14, 2002
From: Sarah Bredensteiner
I live in Hawaii and am interested in collecting sea hares and nudibranchs for observation and fun (of course!). However, I know very little about keeping them in captivity. I recently brought home a common sea hare (Dolabrifera dolabrifera). When I found it it seemed particularly interested in the ear seaweed so I brought some home with it. The sea hare seems very unhappy curling in a ball and not moving much. I have no live rocks in the tank should I get some?? I don't want to kill it, please send me information as soon as possible. Also, can I cultivate sponge for the Hexabranchus sanguineus? And does it "get along" with the Dolabrifera.?
firstname.lastname@example.orgBredensteiner, S., 2002 (Mar 14) Observing sea slugs in aquaria. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from http://www.seaslugforum.net/find/6222
You may have gathered from various comments I have made on the Forum that I am not in favour of people keeping sea slugs in aquaria. I am not in favour of people thinking they can get instant gratification by going to their local shop and buying a beautiful animal which will live without food forever.
I am fully in favour of people like you who have ready access to the sea and wish to learn more about these animals by bringing one or two home. You can learn a lot about their biology - sometimes new information - by carefully observing them and learning to care for them. With ready access to the sea it is much easier to test possible food organisms and replace the food if or when it dies.
To answer your questions:
From Brad's message Dolabrifera seem to live quite happily in aquaria. I am not sure what algae it feeds on naturally but I am sure it will eat the bacterial and algal film that grow over surfaces in aquaria. Certainly some natural rock surfaces would be more comfortable for it than a shiny glass surface. I am not sure what your 'ear seaweed' is but if its name is based on its shape it sounds like the brown algae Padina. I'm pretty sure Stylocheilus doesn't eat this, and more importantly browns are a bit of a problem in aquaria as they exude many nasty chemicals. It could be why your Dolabrifera doesn't seem too happy.
As long as your Hexabranchus is not too large it should be ok if you can find a sponge it will eat. If you go to the Hexabranchus page you will see a link to a page of references on its biology. [There is at least one reference to The Veliger which should be available in your museum or local university library]. It apparently feeds on a variety of sponges - so again the problem is finding one it will eat and which is common to replace regularly in your aquarium, or hardy enough to survive in your aquarium even when under attack by the Hexabranchus. Its certainly worth a go, but you will need to approach it slowly and systematically. Finding what things eat and how to keep them alive in an aquarium can be a rewarding experience.
March 10, 2002
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,
email@example.comFairbank, 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
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
February 7, 2002
From: Dave Behrens
Seems like The Forum, Miller's Slug Site and Sea Challengers receive numerous e-mails requesting information on how to keep nudibranchs in aquaria, what they eat, do they harm coral, etc.
Until now there has been no single resource to point these requests to that answers all these questions, specifically for the saltwater aquarium enthusiast. Well I just tripped over the perfect resource.
I recommend you suggest a new book by Julian Sprung titled Invertebrates - A Quick Reference Guide. Julian is a well known name and expert in the marine aquaria arena. This new book is the first of its kind and includes 13 opisthobranch genera. For each genera this "Quick Guide" give: common names; geographic ranges; similar species to the genus; desirable/undesirable aquarium features; food; species considerations for aquarist's bent on keeping said species; and their hardiness in captivity. I am pleased to report that where the opisthobranchs are concerned, Julian highly recommends against their purchase and captivity. Hope this sales pitch is not inappropriate but the book is available from Sea Challengers - www.seachallengers.com for $39.95 USD.
firstname.lastname@example.orgBehrens, D., 2002 (Feb 7) Opisthobranchs in Captivity - new book news. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from http://www.seaslugforum.net/find/6185
Sounds like a good resource for aquarium keepers - let's hope it relieves the pressure a bit!
November 12, 2001
From: Alisa Taylor
I am caring for a 12 year old 55 gallon reef tank for a biology class at North Central Michigan College in Petoskey, Michigan, USA.
We would like to introduce a sea slug(s) but are unsure which would be best in the tank. We recently (2 weeks ago) added new live rock and have seen an increase in brown aglae since. We have a clown fish that is moderately aggressive and a banded coral shrimp. Would a slug be a good selection for our tank? If so, which would you recommend based on retail availability?
Thank-You so much for your help.
P.S. Your site is absolutely fantastic. Phenomenal Photos!
email@example.comTaylor, A., 2001 (Nov 12) Introducing a sea slug. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from http://www.seaslugforum.net/find/5661
I'm afraid I can't recommend keeping nudibranch in aquaria because of the difficulty in feeding them. Have a look at the other messages below yours on this page where I discuss very aspects of the problem. A alternative to a nudibranch would be a Sea Hare. Being herbivorous, they would probably help with keeping weed growth down in the aquarium.
Another indicator that a sea slug would not be a good idea is your mention of a clown fish and a banded coral shrimp. Do you have an anemone for them? If so slugs often fall into large anemones - they crawl up the sides, start crawling upside down on the water surface and drop off. Commensal shrimps can also be very aggressive and will quickly 'pick' a nudibranch to death.
So I guess my advice is to perhaps avoid sea slug in your aquarium.
July 2, 2001
From: Michael Bloss
While looking for sources for live rock for the reeftank I'm planning, I found this:
"Nudibranch Greek Goddess (shown above) available - $8.00 ea Nudibranchs are tank safe. They are part of the group of snails without a shell. So while these little inverts clean they add a bright spot of color to your reef."
The retailer is located at https://www.gulf-view.com/specials.html. I was planning on contacting them and letting them know that H. edenticulata are not the reef safe cleaner's they are making them out to be. I was hoping that others might join me so we can get them to stop selling these creatures off to their deaths.
Thanks for your time,
firstname.lastname@example.orgBloss, M., 2001 (Jul 2) More misinformation from nudibranch suppliers . [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from http://www.seaslugforum.net/find/4713
I am glad the word is spreading. Good Luck with your efforts.
May 31, 2001
From: Melinda Newton
I live in central California and I have a saltwater reef tank that has been set up for about 8 months now. I would like to add a nudibranch and was wondering if there is one that is easily taken care of or has a diet that is easy to provide for? My local Fish store can order nudibranchs but They dont have the proper infromation for me. I do not wish to be a murderer of nudibranchs. Please help. Provide picture if possible.
Thanks so much
email@example.comNewton, M., 2001 (May 31) Keeping nudibranchs in tanks. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from http://www.seaslugforum.net/find/4409
The short answer is don't. Unless you can find a species which you can feed regularly there is no point in trying. If you are working from bought specimens I don't encourage it because the shopkeepers don't know what they are doing. The only people who successfully keep nudibranchs alive are those who are close to the sea, can collect them themselves, can find out themselves what they eat and regularly provide fresh food. I am sorry to be negative about this, but it is only a few years ago that most tropical marine fish could not be kept alive by amateurs. Only after much trial and error and research were appropriate supplementary foods developed which could make up for the loss of their real diets. At present we don't even know the 'real' diets of most nudibranchs so finding substitute foods has still a long way to go.
May 28, 2001
From: Lorena Schwarz
Do you know where can I find information about nudibranch culture??
firstname.lastname@example.orgSchwarz, L., 2001 (May 28) Keeping sea slugs in captivity. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from http://www.seaslugforum.net/find/4367
I am not sure if your interest is for research or for keeping nudibranchs in a home aquarium. Have a look at the messages on the Keeping in captivity page and also look at the pages on Berghia verrucicornis and Hypselodoris bullocki which are two species which have generated a lot of discussion among aquarium keepers
March 22, 2001
From: Tina Calle
I am enjoying all of the information you have provided here on this site! It has educated me into avoiding the purchase of nudibranchs - they are very beautiful but my greatest concern for any captive animal is its quality of life - sponge feeding creatures should be left to the wild where they can forage on their favorite species of sponge. I hope others are discouraged from purchasing them as well.
Now - my question is- I have read about the defense system of the Nudibranch but does the Sacoglossan slug - such as Elysia crispata - have any defenses against predatory fish such as triggers, wrasse? How do they defend themselves in the ocean?
Thanks for any information:)
email@example.comCalle, T., 2001 (Mar 22) Sacoglossan Defenses. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from http://www.seaslugforum.net/find/3763
Have a look at two general pages on the Forum which will give you a lead in to other information on the site. Try the Defensive Glands Page and the Opisthobranch Defence Mechanisms pages. Sacoglossans, like many sea slugs have two main means of defence, one is to hide and the other is to taste very nasty. Most hide, or become nearly invisible by being coloured almost identically to the green algae on which they feed. To taste inedible, many species either produce chemicals which they store in glands or sacs in their skin, or they reuse molecules they have removed from the plants on which they feed. Have a look at my message on Elysiella pusilla for an example of chemical defence. Cynthia Trowbridge also lets us know about some more examples in another message worth looking at.
Concerning the safety of Elysia crispata or other similar slug in an aquarium. It is definitely not a natural environment and animals can 'misbehave'. Although I haven't kept an aquarium with fish for many years, I wouldn't trust a wrasse or a trigger fish even if I was sitting there watching them. The problem with chemical defences is that they only work if the predator knows the potential prey tastes bad. And the usual way for it to learn is to bite or 'mouth' the hapless prey. Even if the predator finds the prey too distasteful to eat and spits it out, it is often badly damaged. In nature we assume the benefit is not for the individual who gets 'tasted' but to the remaining population of the prey animal which hopefully won't now be tasted. In an aquarium, where you may only have one or two of the prey animals, the whole system of defence, which relies on a few prey animals being sacrificed to train the predators to leave the rest alone breaks down.
I'm afraid my advice would be to keep sea slugs and carnivorous or aggressive fish in separate tanks.
February 8, 2001
PLEASE HELP ME .. my name is Kyle and I own a tropical fish store .. I just got in some Spanish Dancers - they look like flying nudibranchs .. and I was wounderring if anyone has any info about them. I got them from Jakarta, Indonesia. Are they reef safe if so or not what do they eat - phytoplankton?
firstname.lastname@example.orgKyle, 2001 (Feb 8) keeping Spanish Dancers in aquaria. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from http://www.seaslugforum.net/find/3709
The scientific name of the Spanish Dancer is Hexabranchus sanguineus. Have a look at the messages on the Hexabranchus sanguineus page. You will find information there on its biology. You will find that it eats a variety of tropical sponges, none of which will be available for sale. Have a look at the Hypselodoris bullocki pages and the general page for further discussions on keeping nudibranchs in captivity and complaints from people who have bought nudibranchs from tropical fish stores.
You will see from my comments on those pages that I don't think it is a very good idea buying and selling nudibranchs, because 99% of them will die because neither the traders nor the aquariists have any knowledge on keeping them in captivity. All nudibranchs are carnivorous and every species has a very special diet. Even if we did know what each species ate, in most cases it would be a sponge, soft coral, bryozoan or some other delicate colonial animal which you couldn't buy, and even if you could, you couldn't easily keep alive in an aquarium.
If there is a aquarium fish traders association in the USA I think you should protest to them about this trade. You are being tricked by collectors and traders in Indonesia and other places in the tropics into buying and stocking animals that you can't keep alive. As your customers begin to learn that they can't keep these animals alive, they are going to get depressed and blame sellers like you, which won't be good for your reputation. My advice would be to stop stocking nudibranchs, tell your customers why, and alert other shop keepers like you to the problem.
January 7, 2001
I am trying to find information on the "colored sea slug". This is what my LFS calls it. It's body is black with raised yellows bumps on its body. They say that it is an algae eater only, but I would like to make sure. Can you help me with the scientific name and any information on it?
Crazy7933@aol.comRobin, 2001 (Jan 7) Colored sea slug. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from http://www.seaslugforum.net/find/3396
A question. What does LFS stand for? Is it aquarium trade jargon for 'live fish supplier' or something like that?
Now to identify your animal. I really need a few more clues. Does it look like Phyllidia madangensis? If so have a look at the other species in the Species List which are in the Family Phyllidiidae until you find a match or else take a photo and send it to me.
If it is a Phyllidia then I am afraid it is not an algae eater but a specialised sponge feeder. If could also cause problems in your tank by secreting nasty poisons into the water. But I can't really advise you until I see a drawing or a photo.
I am afraid aquarium fish sellers apparently are saying that nudibranchs are algal feeders so that you will buy them. All nudibranchs are carnivores, that is they eat animals, each species feeding on a very specialised diet which your aquarium shop will not have in stock. Have a look at the conversation I am having with Cody Mott at the moment on this very topic.
October 26, 2000
From: John Leventis
I have purchased a Hypselodoris bullocki from my local marine fish dealer, and I believe I have found what it eats. Here is my research.
I have observed my Hypselodoris bullocki feeding on and around the powerhead (a motor used to create water currents) that sucks water to my protien skimmer (an instrument that filters fish waste), as well as other areas of high water flow in my 55 gallon tank. I have observed that it was feeding off of a green hair algae that commonly grows in saltwater aquariums, specifically in areas of fast moving currents (for example, around powerheads). I also know that this algae requires little or no light, since it has also grown in some of the dark areas behind my live rocks.
I have introduced yellow and red branchy sponges into the tank, but it hasn't yet been of any intrest to it. Then again, I am not certain of the exact names of those sponges. The reason I did this was because I have read from another article posted on this site that nudibranchs like mine eat sponges. It also made mention that they introduced a marine sponge food (Angel Formula made by Ocean Nutrition) and the nudibranch was immediately interested. It failed to mention how much, if any, the H. bullocki ate and for how long. It did say that the nudibranch later consumed the hair algae that later grew off the leftover bits; I assume to be the same kind that is in my tank.
My H. bullocki fed on around 6-8 sq. inches of the green hair algae in around 1 hour. How accurate this is, I am not positive. The H. bullocki fed off of the hair algae until it ran out in that area, and then moved on and found more. I can therefore say that it must have an interest in such algae. Whether or not this algae is a staple food for it, I am not 100% positive, but I know that the green hair algae the H. bullocki has been eating is also of great interest and good nutrition to other herbivorous fish and invertebrates. Also, it has been feeding off of it for the past week without signs of malnutrition or inactivity.
I have experimented with other foods to see if it will eat them. I tried to feed it an algae- based flake food, but it failed. I did also notice it trying to lap up some of the diatom masses (diatoms are an brown, quick-growing algae found in every saltwater tank) that has been floating on portions of my tank's water surface for awhile, but let up after it dicovered the green hair algae. Whether or not it was truly interested in it or just testing it, I am not positive.
That is all I have found out for now. I will continue to research and experiment with the Hypselodoris bullocki and other nudibranchia to retrieve more information on their foods and feeding habits. I'll try to keep you posted, but you have to respond. Thank you. By the way, you have a great site and it is a great help to me.
Gradywite@aol.comLeventis, J., 2000 (Oct 26) Alternative to Sponges for Hypselodoris bullocki. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from http://www.seaslugforum.net/find/3239
Thanks for your detailed observations on your Hypselodoris bullocki. I guess the first thing to say is that it is a sponge feeder, and all its relatives are sponge feeders.So how can we interpret your observations? One possibility is that the 'hairs' of the filimentous green algae are acting as filters and becoming coated with a layer of organic matter which attracts the nudibranch. A more likely explanation, I'm afraid, is that you animal is starving. To get to your fish shop in the eastern USA it would have been collected somewhere in the Pacific and then shipped to the USA. At a minimum I would suspect it has been without real food for 2-3 weeks. Hypselodoris feeds by rocking its rasping tongue-like radula out of its mouth where it scrapes off a layer of food sponge. This is a fairly rhythmic activity which you can often see these animals doing as they crawl along the side of an aquarium.
I wish I could say that it looks like they do eat filamentous algae for food, but I suspect that your animal is operating on 'automatic' whether what it is eating is suitable food or not. In spite of my views, please keep us informed of your animal's progress. There is always the possibility you have made a great discovery.
August 7, 2000
From: Darla Hatton
Thanks for your help.
I think the second Nudibranch I purchased was a Chromodoris magnifica. I was so disturbed that I would not be able adequately provide for these beautiful creatures, I decided the least I could do would be to make their lives a contribution. I took them back to the store where they were purchased and mentioned the Sea Slug Forum and detailed both Nudibranch's dietary requirements. I asked the owner if they would be willing to stock the specified sponges. He promptly refunded my money. At least, perhaps the retailer will think twice about restocking this creature for other unsuspecting customers or at the very least offer a cautionary comment.
I did contact another vendor, http://www.ffexpress.com, to learn what they feed their stock of Hypselodoris bullocki. They mentioned that they have had success substituting a sponge from the Caribbean commonly called the "Breadcrumb sponge", which is scientifically a member of Haliclona sp. I was also impressed by the fact that they put the Nudibranch on their restricted list -- letting consumers know up front that they are difficult to maintain. They were very helpful. Kudos to Flying Fish Express.
Thanks you for the Sea Slug Forum and for your help. I learned a valuable lesson. I can't believe everything a salesperson tells you -- I need to do the research myself. Either knowingly or innocently, I might receive incorrect information. The burden ultimately rests upon the my shoulders to do the research.
Not only that, but if I don't see a creature that I wish to purchase readily stocked in display tanks or in public aquariums -- I'll think twice about making a purchase.
Your site is beautiful and your forbearance is gratefully appreciated.
email@example.comHatton, D., 2000 (Aug 7) Re: What do they eat?. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from http://www.seaslugforum.net/find/2849
Glad to be of help.
August 2, 2000
From: Darla Hatton
Just thought you might be interested in the update I just received directly from Laura Romin concerning her use of sponge food to feed Hypselodoris bullocki.
"our little guy died. Fish stores should be told not to carry these critters as they are doomed to starvation. - We now have a filter feeding cucumber that's beautiful and does very well.
Also in the wild, what is the normal life span of the creatures?
firstname.lastname@example.orgHatton, D., 2000 (Aug 2) Re: What do they eat?. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from http://www.seaslugforum.net/find/2798
I suspect the sponge food is food for sponges, rather than food made from sponges.
Concerning the normal life span of these animals. Have a look at the page on lifespans. There is not a lot there yet, but you will get a general idea. Most nudibranchs probably live just a bit less than a year but rhere are some known exceptions which I mention in messages on that page.
Any information anyone has that could be added to that page would be very welcome.
August 1, 2000
From: Darla Hatton
I just purchased two nudibranches in Florida. The aquarium store told me that they feed on algae, but they don't appear to be doing well.
I found the name of one species in a book. It is called a Chromodoris bullocki. It has a white stripe at the edge of its mantle with the center being pinkish/purple. The gills and tentacles are orange/yellow.
I could not find the species of the other nudibranch -- I tried to upload a picture, but was unsuccessful. The second nudibranch has a mantle with rings of colors the first being white then orange, then white, then black, with a white center. The gills and tentacles are orange. It looks much like the first, except for the different colorations.
After purchasing them, a friend told me that he thinks they only eat sponges. Could you tell me if this is true? If so, we live in Tarpon Springs, Florida (known for its sponging industry), Could you tell me if there are any varieties of sponges that are local to this area that I could provide them with.
Any information that you could provide would be helpful.
email@example.comHutton, D., 2000 (Aug 1) Help identify species & what do they eat? . [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from http://www.seaslugforum.net/find/2787
Shops shouldn't be allowed to sell things they know nothing about. If these animals you have bought are chromodorid nudibranchs then they are not vegetarian but specialised feeders on sponges. Have a look at the page on Hypselodoris bullocki and see if one of the photos matches your animal. If it is you will find messages and discussions on that page about keeping them in captivity. Also have a look at the messages below yours on this page which is a general place for messages concerned with keeping sea slugs in captivity.
I'm sorry you had problems sending a photo of the other animal. Send it to me attached to an email and I will have a look at it.
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.
firstname.lastname@example.orgHatton, D., 2000 (Aug 1) Re: what do they eat?. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from http://www.seaslugforum.net/find/2797
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.
April 7, 2000
Unfortunately I do not know very much about aquariums and things like that. However my science teacher wishes to purchase a "puple sea slug". I was told to research what food they eat, if they have any predators, water conditions needed, and any other necessary info.
I would greatly appreciate any help you can give.
email@example.comCherish, 2000 (Apr 7) Sea Slug Info. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from http://www.seaslugforum.net/find/2214
I'm afraid you will have to ask your teacher what they mean by a "purple sea slug". Common names don't mean much unless they are in 'common' use, and I have never heard of a "purple sea slug".
If you have a photo or a scientific name then perhaps I could help.
March 29, 2000
From: Steven Grant
I have a 29 gallon saltwater tank and have recently bought a small seaslug (possibly a Chromodoris elizabethina). I would like to know how they reproduce because the day after we bought it, it left a small spiral made of tiny dots (white and almost translucent). I was wondering if it was eggs or waste.
firstname.lastname@example.orgGrant, S., 2000 (Mar 29) Seaslugs as pets. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from http://www.seaslugforum.net/find/2167
As you'll see from other messages below yours on this page keeping nudibranchs in aquaria is not very easy.
Concerning breeding. They are hermaphrodites, which means they have a fully functioning set of male and female organs but they are not self-fertilising. In many species the male organs are functional much earlier than the female parts and it seems that sperm is exchanged and stored for some time before eggs are ready to be fertilised. If your animal has laid eggs they were probably fertilised before the animal was rudely removed from its natural environment.
Another feature of Sea Slugs is that they often lay eggs as a reponse to a shock or trauma. I often find that within a few hours of collection, specimens will lay and egg ribbon. However don't get your hopes up about breeding a herd of babies. Sometimes eggs laid like this are infertile, and even if they are fertile the chances are that the embryos will hatch out as free-swimming veliger larvae which you will be unable to keep alive.
To see some pictures of different sorts of Sea Slug egg masses go to the SEARCH button at the top of the page and type in egg or eggs. You will get a long list of egg photos in the Forum. Use the SEARCH button to look for information on larva, and also go to the General Topics Index.
February 13, 2000
From: Mike Thomas
I'm not sure if this is the right forum for my question or not, but here goes. I have a mini reef tank with about 5 species of soft corals and one hard coral. I found at the local mall pet store the other day some sea slugs for sale. They look like the slug at the top of each of your web pages (being blue and yellow with orange apendages on top). The people at the store said they eat left over food on the bottom of the tank. I don't believe them, since they have the slugs in with two large yellow tangs which seem to have taken large bites out of most of them. And I have read that many eat corals.
The slugs at the pet store are very beautiful, and I was wondering what species they would be safe to put in my reef tank. By the way your web page is very nice with an abundance of information.
Tardis@siu.eduThomas, M., 2000 (Feb 13) Sea Slugs in a local Mall pet store. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from http://www.seaslugforum.net/find/1868
If the slugs are like the one in the banner they are Chromodoris elisabethina which feed on particular species of sponges. Nudibranchs aren't very good animals for aquaria because most have very specialised food requirements. There are some that feed on hard corals, others that feed on soft corals, some that feed on anemones etc etc. Most of their various foods are colonial animals and themselves difficult to keep in aquaria.
Usually, the only people who can easily keep nudibranchs alive in aquaria are scuba divers or regular visitors to the shore who can colect their own nudibranchs and replace their food on a regular basis. One alternative to nudibranchs are Sea Hares which are herbivorous sea slugs and so can be fed more easily. Some pages worth looking at are:
•Keeping in captivity
All of these pages have messages and discussions on keeping sea slugs in aquaria.
Hope they are of some use,
August 22, 1999
From: Phanor Montoya
I am a marine biology student in Colombia, South America. To get my bachelors of science I need to do some final work as a thesis and I`m very interested in the nudibranch field.
Colombia has coast over the south Caribbean Sea and the west Pacific Ocean as you might know. I would like to know what kind of nudibranch species in these waters and which ones are easy to keep in an aquarium.
If you can help me to find this information I would be so thankful.
email@example.comMontoya, P., 1999 (Aug 22) Advice on keeping nudibranchs in aquariums. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from http://www.seaslugforum.net/find/1209
Colombia, with coasts on both sides of the Panama Isthmus must be a very interesting place to study marine biology. I don't know of any books specifically on that fauna but I suspect you should have a look at the books on the nudibranch fauna of North America, such as Dave Behrens' Pacific Coast Nudibranchs (2nd Edition, 1991) which covers the fauna from Alaska to Baja California.
Also have a look at the sections on Pan American Nudibranchs & Pacific Coast Nudibranchs in Mike Miller's Slug Site at http://slugsite.tierranet.com/
My advice though, is not to choose the nudibranch you would like to put in your tank, before you actually see what nudibranchs you can easily find. Unfortunately even the 'most common' nudibranchs can be impossible to find when you actually want one. I would think that part of your project is to do some research on the natural history of the animals you are keeping in your aquarium, and finding out how to keep them alive would be good start.
What I would suggest is you go and look for some common nudibranchs, either intertidally or subtidally, remembering that you may need to replace your animals if they die. You are almost certainly going to have to replace their food many times, if you are going to keep them alive.
You will see from the Sea Slug Forum, and other sources, that nudibranchs all have very specific diets and most feed on other animals that are difficult to keep alive in aquaria. If the animal you choose feeds on a sponge, try and find small colonies of the sponge on removable rocks which can be placed in the aquarium without damage to the colony. You will need to check the colony regularly and remove it if it looks unhealthy so it doesn't contaminate the water. Alternatively you are going to have to find a nudibranch which feeds on a sponge species that you can easily collect every day, or so, to replace the one in the aquarium. I had a student working on a chromdorid nudibranch with direct developing juveniles, and he had to collect a sponge colony daily and break it into pieces to feed his juveniles. It is possible, but time consuming.
The same applies to nudibranchs feeding on hydroids, sea anemones, soft corals etc. Some anemone-feeding nudibranchs are quite good in aquaria because they feed on a variety of anemones, and anemones are relatively easy to keep in aquaria. You may also be lucky and find an aeolid like Hermissenda crassicornis which is a more generalist feeder and can be fed artificially in aquaria.
I would think the first thing you should do then, is find somewhere you can get to easily, as you may have to return many times, and then choose some nudibranchs that are relatively easy to find there. Hopefully they will be on or near some possible food so you can make an informed guess at what they eat.
If you find some nudibranchs you think could be easy to keep alive, you could then send some photos to the Forum and we could see if anyone can help you with information on their identity and natural history. We probably won't know anything about the natural history of the animals you find, but we can probably give you some clues on what they are likely to do or feed on. In that way you will be able to do some original research which will of interest to us all.
Best wishes, and good luck,
August 20, 1999
From: Adam Walbridge
I have recently set up a salt water aquarium in my home, I decided to use live rock from Fiji. About a month has passed and several Tube Worms, sponges, and other growth has sprouted up. One morning I noticed a sluglike creature crawling out of the rock. I have exhausted all my resources locally in identifing the species. It is approximately one inch long, all black, and a small fanlike tail. It doesn't appear to have any stripes or spots, and is very smooth. Any assistance would be greatly appreciated in identifying it, so as to know whether it will harm any other organisms in the system.
WalbridgeQ@aol.comWalbridge, A., 1999 (Aug 20) Nudibranch I.D.. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from http://www.seaslugforum.net/find/1210
I'm afraid you are not giving me many clues. The fanlike tail could be the gills of a dorid nudibranch, but have a look at the photo of Ceratosoma amoena to see where dorid nudibranch gills are situated, and what they look like. Failing that, the tail could be the feeding tentacles of a Sea Cucumber or even a fan worm. Sometimes fanworms can leave their tubes .... but that would be fairly risky business if you have fish in your tank. If it is an inch long you should be able to see if it has head tentacles or rhinophores which would pretty much confirm it is a dorid nudibranch. Another thing to look for is whether it has a foot. Sea cucumbers are essentially cylindrical and move by small tubular 'feet' much like a starfish.
If it is a dorid nudibranch it probably came with the rock as a recently settled larva on one of the sponge colonies which you say is now flourishing. Whatever it is, it is unlikely to cause harm, other than to eat a bit of one of the sponge colonies. Since 'live rock' is always a bit of a lottery I think you should give the beast a bit of a chance too. It has survived a fairly perilous few weeks being transported to your tank. Apart from natural curiosity in knowing what it will become, I think it deserves a second chance to prove itself.
Let us know if you succeed in confirming what it is. If a nudibranch, perhaps we can identify it for you. One possibility would be either Dendrodoris fumata or Dendrodoris nigra, both of which can be black.
Bill Rudman.Rudman, W.B., 1999 (Aug 20). Comment on Nudibranch I.D. by Adam Walbridge. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from http://www.seaslugforum.net/find/1210
July 29, 1999
From: Eirik Eilertsen
Following on my question on Elysiella pusilla can you give any advice on keeping slugs in aquaria?
Since I have a special tank just for tiny creatures, where no fish will ever swim about eating them, I'm now thinking of maybe deliberately adding some sea slugs. Are there any species that are easier to keep than others? Clearly, the herbivorous (and possibly detritivorous) species should be
easier than the more specialized carnivorous/parasitic ones, but can you
recommend any species?
I have a list of possible species to be imported from Singapore, but unfortunately, the accuracy of the list leaves a great deal to be desired.
The species listed are:
Purple slug Glossodoris festiva
White slug - black spots Nudibranch species
Black slug - orange spots
Flying slug - Spanich dancer
I know the Spanish dancer is concidered very difficult, but does any of the other species mentioned make any sense?
Eirik Mack Eilertsen
NORWEGIAN COLLEGE OF FISHERIES SCIENCE
UNIVERSITY OF TROMSOE,
firstname.lastname@example.orgEilertsen, E. , 1999 (Jul 29) Can you recommend good aquarium species?. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from http://www.seaslugforum.net/find/1122
The biggest problem, as you suggest, is that all nudibranchs are carnivores, and each has a very specialised diet. Most feed on colonial animals like sponges, ascidians, corals, hydroids etc and so even if you can identify the correct colonial prey and keep it alive in your aquarium, the nature of nudibranch feeding - gradually 'nibbling' at the colony - means that the colony becomes very stressed and so dies before it is completely eaten.
You have shown you can successfully keep green algae alive so sacoglossans would be a possibility. But again you would need to get some animals and then find the right food.
My feeling is perhaps you should think about keeping some Norwegian nudibranchs. There are some quite beautiful species. Perhaps you could contact Jussi Evertsen, who could give you some advice on finding them in Norway.
Trondhjem Biological Station
Department of Natural History
May 23, 1999
From: Theresa Coulter
Can anyone tell me if there are nudibranchs that are safe to keep in a reef tank with soft and hard corals and anemones, etc.? I am new to the world of nudibranchs and would love to have some in my tank but I can't seem to find out if they will eat my reef! Also, when they feed on a coral, does it kill the coral or is there some reciprocal relationship between the two that "feeds" the nudibranch yet doesn't harm it's host?
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
email@example.comCoulter, T., 1999 (May 23) Nudibranchs in the Reef Aquarium. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from http://www.seaslugforum.net/find/880
I'm afraid there is no simple answer to your question. Most nudibranchs have very specialised diets and most of their preferred foods are difficult to keep alive in aquaria. If you want more information on feeding go to the Search the Forum page and type in food or feeding and you will get a list of pages with relevant information.
On your specific question about eating your corals and soft-corals. I'm afraid there is no gentle way to be eaten. If a coral-eating nudibranch eats enough of a coral colony, the coral will die.
January 7, 1999
From: Rob See
Many thanks for the valued information on the Phyllidia varicosa, which I now no longer have inhabiting my marine aquarium. I have become quite taken with these colourful beasts, however, and am curious to learn of any species that can be kept easily in a reef tank, and will not die in a matter of weeks, or kill anything else. Could you please help me with this query?
firstname.lastname@example.orgSee, R., 1999 (Jan 7) Re: keeping nudibranchs in the aquarium?. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from http://www.seaslugforum.net/find/448
Apart from the phyllidiids, which are a special case, the general problem with keeping nudibranchs in aquaria is the problem of feeding them. Sponges, hydroids, sea anemones, ascidians and bryozoans are all food of particular nudibranchs and all are difficult to keep alive in aquaria, especially if they are regularly being nibbled on!
I know dedicated aquarium keepers who keep chromodorids in aquaria, but that requires finding them alive on a particular sponge that can also be transplanted into the aquarium. It also requires you to regularly replace the sponge with another healthy sponge of the same species. [To distinguish what a chromodorid looks like, look at any of the species listed under Chromodorididae in the Species List]. Some aeolids are also amenable to aquarium life but again you need to identify their food. There is one species in New South Wales, Austraeolis cacaotica which seems to be a generalist feeder but most are very specific feeders.
Sorry I can't give you an instant recipe for success but if you are keen, think of it as a challenge. I'm happy to give some advice if you find something which seems to be working, but I would need a photograph.
August 10, 1998
From: Sam Noe
I am 6 1/2 years old and I love sea slugs. I have petted them at the Long Beach Aquarium. I have a book of many beautiful sea slugs. I would like to be able to keep one in an aquarium. Do you think that it's possible? My mom is not so sure.
Thank you for helping me.
email@example.comNoe, S., 1998 (Aug 10) Sea Slugs as Pets?. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from http://www.seaslugforum.net/find/197
Keeping any sea animals in a salt water aquarium is not easy because you have to be sure that the amount of "salt" in the water stays constant. You would be best to get advice from an aquarium shop, or look up some books on how to look after a saltwater aquarium.
If you are interested in Sea Hares, which feed on sea weeds, they are probably not so difficult because you can probably feed them on lettuce. Have a look at the messages about Sea Hares .
Nudibranch Sea slugs however, are quite difficult to look after, because they are very fussy feeders, eating only one or two types of food. Their food is usually sponges, hydroids, sea anemones etc, and other colonial animals which are even more difficult than nudibranchs to keep alive in aquaria. It is possible to keep some nudibranchs alive in aquaria for some weeks without feeding them.. but what you are doing then is starving them.
If you are near the sea and would like to keep a few for a day to two to see what they do, then it is quite easy to keep them in fresh sea water without feeding them. But after a day or so you should put them back carefully where you found them. To keep them for a longer time is quite difficult.
Unfortunately our computer cut off your email address. Could you let me know what it is please so I can add it to your message .. Bill Rudman.Rudman, W.B., 1998 (Aug 10). Comment on Sea Slugs as Pets? by Sam Noe. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from http://www.seaslugforum.net/find/197
July 9, 1998
From: Stephen (Max) Gillies
I've recently become very interested in Sea Slugs of all kinds and wonder how difficult it would be to keep them in an aquarium. what sized tank should I use and what kind of filter would be necessary? Are there any good articles/books about diet and behavioural patterns? do what I think are one of the Family Pleurobranchidae, which I've seen in 'schools' wandering over sand at night, need to move around?
I noticed in one of the articles about sea hares Bill mentioned size of tank- after observing sea hares in the wild and how they swim (magical the first time you see one) I would suggest tank size would be around 1 metre long? more? any help would be great.
Stephen (Max) Gillies
Coogee, NSW, Australia
firstname.lastname@example.orgGillies, S., 1998 (Jul 9) Keeping sea slugs in captivity. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from http://www.seaslugforum.net/find/109
Max, I see you are a member of the Uni of NSW diving club. The most experienced group I know of in Australia for keeping Aplysia in captivity are in the University of NSW. Perhaps you should contact Dr Peter Steinberg who has had a number of students working on Aplysia biology over the years, the most recent being Cary Rogers. However the aquarium system they use is hardly domestic. I haven't kept aquaria going for years but as a general rule of thumb you have to start small and not overcrowd. The most important thing is to find what your nudibranchs eat and make sure you have healthy food for them. This is a major problem as true nudibranchs are all carnivores and many feed on difficult to keep alive animals such as hydroids, sponges and ascidians. And most are pretty choosy eating only one or a very few closely related species. Many enthusiasts find that rather then trying to get the food to grow in the aquaria it is best to collect small amounts of food and regularly replace it in the aquaria. As I say often, we know very little about the biology of individual species of nudibranchs and enthusiasts trying to keep animals alive in aquaria is a good way to find at least what they feed on. I am happy to post photos of animals and their food on the Sea Slug Forum as this is a good way to let everyone know of what is often a new bit of information which would otherwise be lost.
I would be interested in a photo or description of the "Pleurobranch" you have seen in schools wandering over the sand. ... Bill RudmanRudman, W.B., 1998 (Jul 9). Comment on Keeping sea slugs in captivity by Stephen (Max) Gillies. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from http://www.seaslugforum.net/find/109