Keeping Haminoea cymbalum in aquaria

August 17, 1999
From: Nathan Cope

Dear Dr Rudman,

I've seen Haminoea cymbalum on the Australian Museum web site and a photo of it accredited to you. I'm hoping that you will be able to supply me with some more information about the species.

I am a marine "reef" hobbyist and am interested in keeping some of these animals, but I would like to find out if they will be viable in my aquarium before I go ahead and try them. If not, I would still like to be able to see them in the wild.

What I'm particularly interested in is breeding habits and life cycle, food requirements and likely locations that these animals can be found around the country - I see that at least one specimen was from NSW.

Thankyou for any help you can offer,

Nathan Cope
Western Australia.

Cope, N., 1999 (Aug 17) Keeping Haminoea cymbalum in aquaria. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from

Dear Nathan,
I think it would be a good idea to try an animal like Haminoea cymbalum in an aquaria. Probably a lot easier than most nudibranchs which feed on a variety of animals (often colonial) which are htemselves difficult to keep alive.

I am not sure what algae H. cymbalum eats. Clay Bryce in an earlier message, suggested the red algae Laurencia which would be worth a try, but I suspect it could be tempted with common filamentous green algae or even the algal film that grows on aquarium glass, rocks etc. Certainly I have found species of Haminoea easy to keep in aquaria on green algae like Ulva (sea lettuce) and Enteromorpha but it may be that H. cymbalum has a more specialised diet.

Where would you find it? Although tropical, it is certainly often a common visitor as far south on the Australian east coast as Sydney. In Western Australia it has only been reported from the Dampier Archipelago [Wells, F.D. & Bryce, C.W. (1993) Sea Slugs of Western Australia. Western Australian Museum: Perth], but as many tropical animals are found, at times, much further south in Western Australia, I wouldn't give up hope of fuinding it nearer to your home. species of Haminoea are often found on sheltered sand and mudflats, but H. cymbalum is often found on intertidal rock platforms, in shallow pools.

They probably live for about a year, and lay sausage egg masses containing many tiny eggs which hatch as free-swimming larvae. You would need to replace ypur animals each year as breeding them in captivity is very difficult.

Give Clay Bryce at the Western Australian Museum, Perth, a ring. He may be able to give you some ideas.

Best wishes,
Bill Rudman.

Rudman, W.B., 1999 (Aug 17). Comment on Keeping Haminoea cymbalum in aquaria by Nathan Cope. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from


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