Sunday, 30 November 2014

Sunday's Nudibranch: Chelidonura varians

This weird animal is a Blue Velvet Nudibranch (Chelidonura varians)
Blue Velvet Nudibranch
Credit: Original Photo By
Jens Petersen [GFDL],
via Wikimedia Commons
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Mollusca
Class: Gastropoda
Superfamily: Philinoidea
Family: Aglajidae
Genus: Chelidonura
Species: Chelidonura varians
Common Name(s): Blue Velvet Nudibranch, Head Shield Sea Slug, Blue Velvet Headshield Slug, Blue Doris

The Blue Velvet nudibranch can be found in the tropical waters of the Indo-west Pacific region, usually on reef areas in shallow water lagoons with sandy or muddy bottom, at depths of up to 30 m (~100 ft).

They are small creatures with a maximum length of about 7 cm. The species has blue lines on a black background around the outside of its body and down the middle of the head which is laterally expanded and somewhat resembles a hammer.

The two relatively long and pointed "tails" at the end are characteristic of the genus Chelidonura, with the left one being always slightly longer.

They have well-developed sensory cilia on the anterior edge of the head which are used to detect prey, with their diet mainly consisting of flatworms.

Chelidonura varians species is sometimes mistaken for the similarly coloured Philinopsis gardineri.

Can I Keep One as a Pet?
Yes, it is possible to keep one or more individuals in captivity, even breed them together. One of the main restrictions is that they require a steady diet of flatworms in order to thrive. This is why they are mainly used for eradicating small flat worm invasions.

Furthermore, these nudibranchs are sensitive to rapid changes in water conditions and have a short life expectancy of about only 3 months. For this reason, only experts should attempt to maintain this species.

More Images and Videos

By Steve Childs from Lancaster, UK (Flickr)
 [CC-BY-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

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