Collected with Reticulidia halgerda

May 27, 1998
From: Dr. Anthony D. Wright

Hi Bill,
Here is the animal I collected with Reticulidia halgerda. I would be grateful for an identification. It was collected at Nanu-I-Ra, inshore reef between mainland and island, Fiji, 18m, 27 January 1998. It was on, and probably feeding on, the orange sponge which I have had identified as Acanthella sp.

If I find any data that might be useful for the forum I will let you have it. At the moment we don't really have anything that is particularly relevant. As the study goes on with the two animals and sponge I will keep you posted. The result of this study will surely be of interest to some of your readers.
Cheers, and thanks for your continued help.
Dr. Anthony D. Wright,
Technical University Braunschweig,
Institute for Pharmaceutical Biology

Wright, A.D., 1998 (May 27) Collected with Reticulidia halgerda. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from

I think this is Phyllidiella pustulosa but there are a number of similarly coloured species which I can't distinguish just from the photograph. Unfortunately if the specimen is now dried and decolourised after chemical extraction, it may not help much either. Since phyllidiids don't have a radula, we don't even have this normally very useful nudibranch character to use. Thanks for the photo and the feeding information. One of the reasons for developing the Sea Slug Forum was to provide a place where this sort of biological information, which normally falls down the cracks and is lost, could accumulate. To my knowledge Acanthella has only been recorded before as the food of Phyllidia babai. To those of you who are unfamiliar with phyllidiids they are of special interest to chemists who study natural products because they secrete acrid, acidic and toxic anti-feedant chemicals from their mantle glands. It is thought that these chemicals, or precursors, are obtained from the sponges they feed on. If you try and keep phyllidiids in aquaria the chemicals they exude can kill everything else in your aquaria. Sometimes I have walked in to a closed room in which I have kept animals in aquaria overnight to be struck by an acrid atmosphere, which in some instances can cause you to catch your breath, which is caused by phyllidiid secretions escaping from the aquarium water. Such powerful chemicals are thought to be potentially valuable as antibiotics or anti-cancer agents ... Bill Rudman.

Rudman, W.B., 1998 (May 27). Comment on Collected with Reticulidia halgerda by Dr. Anthony D. Wright. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from

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