CORAL Mystery Species Answers

16 Feb, 2019

Aeolid nudibranch (Phyllodesmium rudmani), which perfectly mimics a small colony of Xenia Soft Coral. Also known as a solar-powered sea slug. Found throughout Indonesia and Philippines. Photo taken off Anilao, Philippines, within the Coral Triangle. Image: © Gary Bell /

From the January’February 2020 Issue of CORAL Magazine: An amazing example of marine mimicry, this remarkable sea slug has evolved to appear as a perfect match for Xenia sp. soft coral. This species grows to about 4.5 cm (1.8 inches), and aquarists may find it hitchhiking into their reefscapes on imported colonies of Xenia. Sea slugs have a paired set of antenna-like sense organs called rhinophores, which can be spotted in this image upon careful inspection.

Phyllodesmium rudmani is reported to have photosynthetic symbiotic Symbiodinium zooxanthellae in its tissues.

Read a good account in the always informative Sea Slug Forum, which says: “This solar-powered aeolid is a remarkable mimic of the Xenia colonies on which it feeds, often nestling in cavities it has burrowed out in the base of the colony.”

Sea Slug Forum

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Leptastrea sp. Stony Coral, “Reef Raft Polkaroo” from Jason Fox Signature Corals. Possibly a color morph of Leptastrea purpurea.

Leptastrea is a genus of encrusting reefbuilding stony corals from the Indo-Pacific. Previously assigned to the family Faviidae, it has been moved to uncertain status, Scleractinia incertae sedis, based on DNA testing.

CORAL Volume 16, Number 2, March/April 2019.

Writing in CORAL Magazine, Advanced Aquatics, March/April 2019, researcher Samuel Nietzer says:

“Leptastrea purpurea has an extensive distribution and can be found from the reefs of the western Indian Ocean to the Indo-Pacific Coral Triangle to the Hawaiian Islands. 

“The most astonishing and unique feature of L. purpurea is not, however, its apparent adaptability but its reproductive strategy: so-called brooding, in which parent colonies harbor their growing progeny before releasing them. The extraordinary thing about the reproduction in this species isn’t, however, the strategy, but the daily release of larvae. This circumstance makes L. purpurea a particularly suitable species for performing experiments with planula larvae.”

Image by May Fox.  Courtesy Jason Fox Signature Corals

Buy this issue of CORAL, on sale February 2/26/19.


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Reef To Rainforest
Reef To Rainforest

Reef to Rainforest Media, LLC is the publisher of award-winning magazines and books in the fields of aquarium keeping, aquatics, and marine science. It is the English-language publisher of CORAL Magazine and is based in Shelburne, Vermont, USA.

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