Domestication of the Marine Nudibranch Spurilla Neapolitana for Commercial Husbandry: Targeting the Marine Ornamental Industry

The Invention A technology was developed enabling the domestication / commercial husbandry of S neapolitana - The optimal pest control for marine aquaria.The novel technology includes special culture media for propagating the distinct nudibranch life cycle stages, and unique culture apparatus for propagating benthic marine invertebrates, namely sea anemones, the nudibranchs prey.

The Need The marine ornamental industry is a fast developing commercial sector. The trade which supplies aquarists with live marine animals is worth an estimated US$300 million annually. One of the most common problems affecting coral health in captive reef systems is the proliferation of biofouling cnidarians such as sea-anemones of the genus Aiptasia. In marine aquaria, these anemone "pests" compete with coral colonies for space and light, ultimately causing the demise of the corals through competitive interactions. In light of this there is intensive search for solutions. Field surveys conducted by us since 2003 at two sites in the Mediterranean, show that Aiptasia populations are often accompanied by their naturally occurring predator, the aeolid nudibranch Spurilla neapolitana. Studies in our laboratory have shown that these nudibranchs readily feed on Aiptasia but avoids corals. Their introduction into marine aquaria will thus serve in controlling anemone populations, thereby reducing aggressive interactions with ornamental organisms, and serving as a biological pest control in ornamental marine aquaria. The novel culture apparatus developed for propagation of the nudibranch and its prey may also serve for the propagation of benthic ornamentals, e.g; corals, anemones, sponges, or for cultivating similar organisms of biomedical interest.
Potential Applications Selective pest control for marine ornamental aquariums Propagation of benthic marine organisms

Advantages Superior to the American Berghia in terms of ornamental impact, size, and adaptation to marine aquaria. The culture apparatus enable control of flow character and speed, temperature, lighting, the animals are grown on a removable, flexible substrate, and the culture apparatus is drained to avoid the build up of sedimentation. May be connected to a close or open water system.

Stage A culture system was developed in which a reproductive adult pair of nudibranchs (7 cm long) produce ca. 4,000,000 eggs a week. Eggs hatch 4 days post oviposition, and planktotrophic larvae are consequently cultured for 30 days till they are induced to metamorphose. Juveniles reach sexual maturity and marketing size of 3 cm 70 days post oviposition. Sea anemone (the nudibranchs food source) culture apparatus have been designed to conform to the nudibranch culture apparatus, maximizing the culture systems efficiency.

Inventor(s): Professor Yossi Loya

Type of Offer: Licensing

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