View Full Version : Baby Berghia?

"Umm, fish?"
03/21/2008, 10:02 AM
I went in to take care of the fish this morning, and noticed that the Aiptasia in the nudibranch culture vessel (an old peanut butter jar) had moved as far away from the substrate as it could. Hmm. Could there have been a hatch?

I found this. Sorry about the quality, they don't make peanut butter jars like they used to:

And crops:

And with a little image enhancement:

So, baby Berghia, or is this the anemone budding off?


03/21/2008, 10:16 AM
If you have baby Berghia i have a friend that needs some BAD!!!!!!!! He has aptasia to feed the babys if you need some!!

"Umm, fish?"
03/21/2008, 10:19 AM
Believe me, I have plenty at the moment. :) I'll keep it in mind, as my space for culturing Aiptasia is pretty limited at the moment.

This sucker's small at the moment. It's about the size of a Tiggerpod.

03/21/2008, 10:30 AM
You never seem to amaze me w/ your camera skills:) How the house moving along?
Please keep it in mind i told him about the Berghia and just not sure where to locate them!

03/21/2008, 10:38 AM
There is a gal that raises them in parker. She would probably sell you some.

03/21/2008, 10:41 AM
Linkia breeds them

03/21/2008, 10:42 AM
Linkia will NOT sell you some, she WILL trade for aiptasia. She referred me to Neptunes and Liquid Kingdom.

She wont sell direct because "she doesnt want to step on clients toes. And the whole tax thing."

03/21/2008, 10:57 AM
oh, thats news to me.

03/21/2008, 10:58 AM
Well who has a contact # for her My buddie has tonns to trade!

03/21/2008, 11:04 AM

"Umm, fish?"
03/21/2008, 11:48 AM
Thanks you, Charlie, but it wasn't going anywhere. Once the tripod was all set up, it was just a matter of pushing the button a punch of times to make sure one was close to focus.

By all means, give Linkia a call, though. She rocks!

If it gives you a sense of perspective on the size, here's another photo from the same series with roughly the same magnification and crop as the last two images above.

Those are individual cells of symbiotic algae in the tentacles of the anemone! :eek1:

03/21/2008, 01:25 PM
Sorry, I don't see any Berghia. When the babies become visible they are about the same size as copepods but move very slowly and have a tail (so they really look like sperm). They are opaque/white. The ceras won't develop until they are about 3 1/2 to 4 weeks from lay date. I'll try to post a picture but won't promise anything. I have some really cool microscopic video too I could email to you.

03/21/2008, 02:21 PM
Linka do ay ahave any to trade?

03/21/2008, 02:22 PM
Linka do ya have any to trade?

03/21/2008, 03:20 PM
Looks like a little Berghia.. They should devlop their cerata soon.
If they don't try feeding them smaller Aiptasia or cut up Aiptasia.

I found this on breading them
I'm posting this entire article because the original only exists in a google cache..


Stephen C. Kempf
Associate Professor
Department of Zoology and Wildlife Science
331 Funchess Hall
Auburn University, AL 36849

Michael Brittsan
Curator of the Shores Department
Columbus Zoo
9990 Riverside Dr.
Powell, OH 43065

Large scale saltwater aquaria are an exciting and increasingly common means of conveying an understanding and appreciation of the marine environment to public audiences. These displays portray habitats of considerable complexity ranging from tide pool to coral reef communities. Along with this complexity comes a burden of maintenance considerably higher than that associated with fresh water aquarium systems. A significant aspect of this maintenance is regular manual cleaning of aquarium walls and glass, and the removal of unwanted organisms that tend to overgrow and obscure sessile species or species replicas that are being displayed.

Species of the small brown anemone Aiptasia, including A. pallida and A. pulchella, are common "weed" organisms in zoo aquaria as well as those of the private hobbiest. This anemone is very well adapted for aquarium life for two reasons. 1) It prefers high illumination because much of its nutrition is derived from millions of photosynthetic algal symbionts, called zooxanthellae, that live in the anemone's tissues (Trench, 1993), and 2) its most common form of reproduction is asexual (Hunter, 1984). This asexual reproduction is accomplished by a process called pedal laceration which simply means that small pieces of regenerative tissue separate from the anemone as it slowly moves over objects in the aquarium. In small numbers, these anemones add interesting highlights to any tank; however, once introduced the regenerates produced by pedal laceration can, if conditions are right, proliferate at a very high rate. As a result, regular and time consuming manual removal is often required if displays are to be kept attractive and informative.

It would be useful if a natural predator of Aiptasia species could be found that would thrive in aquarium displays. This would not only solve the problem of manually removing these anemones, but would also be an instructive example of how predator-prey relationships work to prevent species from overgrowing the capacity of their natural environment.

Recent investigations in one of the author's (SCK) laboratories have described a molluscan predator, the nudibranch Berghia verrucicornis (Figure 1), that feeds on species of Aiptasia (Carroll and Kempf, 1990, 1994; Kempf, 1991). This nudibranch species is found on shallow reef flats in the Caribbean where Aiptasia pallida commonly occurs. Berghia is well suited as a predator of Aiptasia in display aquaria for two reasons. First, as is the case for most nudibranch species, Berghia feeds specifically on one genus of organisms (in this case Aiptasia) and not on species from other genera. Second, this nudibranch species life history includes a non-feeding larval stage that will settle and metamorphose in the aquarium environment a few days after hatching. This means that once a population of Berghia is established in a marine aquarium, it will continue to propagate itself as long as Aiptasia are present to feed on.

Recently the authors have initiated a collaborative effort to develop the potential of Berghia verrucicornis as a natural and cost effective means of controlling Aiptasia populations in display aquaria. At times, simply releasing a pair of adult Berghia into an aquarium continuing Aiptasia will result in the establishment of a population of these nudibranchs after a few months; however, since this is not always the case, it may be prudent to start aquarium populations using juveniles that have been cultured as described below. Once viable aquarium populations of Berghia have been established in this manner, these culture methods may be discontinued.

Culture of Berghia verrucicornis requires supplies and equipment listed in Table 1. A number of these items are readily available from local sources. Preferably, all glassware and brushes should be new. It is important that items that will contact culture water or animals have never contained chemical substances and have never been washed with soap, detergent or solvents. Minute amounts of chemical substances that adsorb to the surfaces of glassware, etc. are often toxic to invertebrate larvae.

We have never had success culturing nudibranch eggs or larvae using freshly mixed artificial sea water. Instead, all sea water for culture is drawn from established aquaria that contain sea water that is either natural or prepared from a commercial formula (e.g. Instant Ocean) with either de-ionized or distilled water. This sea water is filtered using a Nalge filter apparatus, a 0.45 um Millipore filter and vacuum filtration = Millipore filtered seasoned aquarium water (MFSA).
Adult Culture:

Two adult Berghia verrucicornis are cultured in each 12 cm glass culture bowl in approximately 300 ml of MFSA. The bowl and water are changed daily, at which time egg masses are collected and cultured as described below. At each culture change, a number of large Aiptasia are cut up using forceps and "iris" scissors, and the pieces placed in each Berghia culture bowl. We find it is best if the Aiptasia are cut-up radially such that each piece possesses part of both the oral disk/tentacles and the body column. If the Aiptasia come from the gravel bottom of an aquarium, be sure to remove an pieces of gravel adhering to the pedal disk before trying to cut them up with the iris scissors. A single large Aiptasia (5-8 cm in length when expanded) may be cut into 4-8 pieces, and 2-4 pieces in each culture bowl containing 2 Berghia. As the Berghia feed they will turn brown due to symbiotic algae present in the Aiptasia. Culture bowls can usually be maintained at room temperature (20-25 C).
Egg mass culture:

Egg masses of Berghia verrucicornis consist of a twisted white string that is sometimes laid in a spiral, attached to the substratum. Young, well fed Berghia can be expected to lay one egg mass every 1-2 days. As animals get older, egg mass production will decrease. Egg masses may occur either free floating or attached by one edge to the culture bowl. Attached egg masses are removed from the bowl by carefully scraping them away from the surface with the edge of an old credit card pressed firmly against the bottom of the bowl. Egg masses are picked-up with forceps and transferred to 500 ml glass beakers containing approximately 300 ml of MFSA. An airline is inserted into the large end of a short Pasteur pipette and the culture is aerated such that the egg masses are gently lifted off the bottom and circulated in the beaker. Care should be taken not to over aerate the cultures as excessive agitation of the egg masses may interfere with the embryos' development. Egg mass culture beaker and water should be changed daily.

Embryonic development of Berghia verrucicornis takes about 10 days at 22-24 C. At about 7 days of development, the cultures aeration is decreased such that the egg masses are no longer lifted off the bottom of the beaker. At 9 days of development, the egg masses are removed from the culture beaker and placed in a small glass bowl (5-8 cm diameter) containing about 1 cm depth of MFSA. The egg masses are then artificially hatched by "pumping" them in and out of a short Pasteur pipette until most of the egg capsules are separated from the egg string. Remaining pieces of egg string are then removed from the bowl with forceps and discarded.
Metamorphosis cultures:

Larvae will generally be released from their egg capsules during the artificial hatching process. Most of those that are not will eventually break out of the capsules on their own. The newly hatched larvae are gently swirled in the small bowl such that they collect together in the center. These larvae are then transferred by pipette to a 12 cm diameter culture bowl containing about 300 ml of MFSA and 6-10 very small Aiptasia that were placed in the bowl on the day preceding hatching (=metamorphosis cultures). The metamorphosis cultures are covered with parafilm or saran wrap being careful not to let the cover touch the water, and are left undisturbed for 5 days. The parafilm or saran wrap will reduce water evaporation and an associated increase in specific gravity.

At 5 days the cultures are examined with a dissecting microscope or magnifying glass. Newly metamorphosed juveniles will appear as tiny (~0.5 mm) white slugs, many of which may be clustered at the bases of the small anemones. Other juveniles may be crawling on the bottom of the bowl or attached to the underside of the water surface. If most of the larvae are attached to the surface, they should be disattached by dropping droplets of water on them from a Pasteur pipette. After examining the culture and disattaching juveniles from the surface, the disattached juveniles are given about 5 min to re-attach to the bottom of the culture bowl. The culture water is then changed by simply pouring the old water from the bowl and adding new MFSA to the same level. Culture water is subsequently changed in a similar fashion every 3-4 days for the next few weeks. As the juveniles grow they will develop cerata on their dorsum. As juveniles grow, they should be split between additional bowls such that total biomass does not exceed the "carrying capacity" of a bowl. Once they have reached a length of 4-5 mm juveniles may be released into aquaria that contain Aiptasia. Over the next few months populations of Berghia should establish themselves in the aquaria. Once this occurs, Berghia culture as described above, may be discontinued.
Potential problems:

If juvenile Berghia fail to grow and develop cerata, it will probably be the result of trying to feed them anemones that are too large. Tiny pieces of cut-up anemone do not work well for feeding newly metamorphosed juveniles because they tend to decay and foul the water to the extent that the juveniles die. We have found that "bleached" Aiptasia, those that have been kept in the dark long enough to lose most of their symbiotic algae, provide a better source of tiny anemones since they pedal lacerate and produce very tiny regenerates much more frequently than symbiotic anemones. For this reason, it may be wise to set-up an established, appropriately filtered and aerated, 10 or 20 gal aquarium with a good population of Aiptasia, place a tinfoil covered box over it to exclude light and feed the Aiptasia newly-hatched brine shrimp every 2 days. The Aiptasia in the aquarium will "bleach" over a period of 1-2 months and begin to produce tiny, pedal lacerate regenerates that may be used to feed newly metamorphosed, juvenile Berghia.

Our thanks to Dr. John Miller of Baldwin-Wallace College who pointed out the interesting nudibranch that started reproducing in his lab aquaria. This work was supported in part by grants to SCK from the National Science Foundation (DCB-9018698), Office of Naval Research (NAVY-N00014-931-0919), and Alabama Agricultural Experiment Station.

Carroll, D.J. and S.C. Kempf 1990. Laboratory culture of the aeolid nudibranch Berghia verrucicornis (Mollusca, Opisthobranchia): Some aspects of its development and life history. Biol. Bull. 179: 243-253.

Carroll, D.J. and S.C. Kempf. 1994. Changes occur in the central nervous system of the nudibranch Berghia verrucicornis (Mollusca, Opisthobranchia) during metamorphosis. Biol. Bull. 186: 202-212.

Hunter, T. 1984. The energetics of asexual reproduction in the symbiotic sea anemone Aiptasia pulchella (Carlgren 1943). J. Exp. Mar. Biol. Ecol. 83: 127-147.

Kempf, S.C. 1991. A 'primitive' symbiosis between the aeolid nudibranch Berghia verrucicornis (A. Costa, 1867) and a zooxanthella. J. Moll. Stud. 57: 75-85.

Trench, R. K. 1993. Microalgal-invertebrate Symbioses - A Review. Endocytobiosis Cell. Res. 9: 135-175.

Equipment and supplies for Berghia culture

Air valves
Aquarium air pump
Instant Ocean or similar product
A source of Aiptasia
A source of de-ionized or distilled water
A source of sea water from an established aquarium
One 10 gal aquarium with appropriate filtration
One cardboard box sufficiently large to fit over the 10 gal aquarium
Filter apparatus (Nalge Co., Cat. #310-4000, 47/50mm)
0.45 um Millipore filters (Millipore Corp., Cat. #HAWP 047 00)
1 liter vacuum filter flask (Fisher Scientific, Cat. #10-182-508)
500 ml beakers or equivalent sized drinking glasses
Glass culture bowls, approximately 12 cm in diameter
Small glass bowls, 5-8 cm in diameter
Cleaning brushes for glassware
One pair of iris scissors (Fisher Scientific, Cat. #08-953-1B)
One pair of forceps (Fisher Scientific, Cat. #08-953G)
Short Pasteur pipettes (Fisher Scientific, Cat. #13-678-20A)
Rubber pipette bulbs (Fisher Scientific, Cat #14-065B)
One old credit card (or similar flat piece of thin flexible plastic)

I'm posting this entire article because the original only exists in a google cache..

"Umm, fish?"
03/21/2008, 09:14 PM
You go, sscherin! Thanks!

Linkia--PM sent.

09/14/2008, 11:56 PM
How are the Berghia's doing?

I'm running tankless in Washington.. I miss the great reef community in CO.

"Umm, fish?"
09/15/2008, 10:21 AM
I lost the one little guy and broke that tank down after I stuck my hand in there with a little sunscreen on it. Sigh.

But, I've just placed a new bunch of them into one of my horse trough tanks to help with the Aiptasia bloom following overfeeding baby Banggais. I saw some eggs yesterday, in fact!

Are you in DC or state? Heck, if you're in the state you can console yourself diving off the coast there. I've heard amazing things and want to try it out one of these days.

09/15/2008, 07:54 PM
I have had absolutely no luck with these. I placed 40 in 3 different systems and nothing.

09/15/2008, 08:02 PM
No luck with them eating aiptasia or no luck breeding?

09/16/2008, 08:06 PM

"Umm, fish?"
09/16/2008, 10:48 PM
You sure you have Aiptasia? I don't think they eat Majanos.

09/16/2008, 11:42 PM
I think you should catch a couple and see if they eat in my tank!

09/17/2008, 12:39 PM
Did you try that trick I told you about where you jab the aiptasia on one rock to see if they clean it off and are there? They take awhile too, especially if you have a ton of aiptasia.

09/23/2008, 09:21 AM
They are not majanos. I have seen them eat at a couple a month or so ago. I have tried the trick, but haven't gotten much except an initial response. These 2 tanks have well into the hundreds of aptasia and I placed about 15 in each 2 months ago. I still haven't seen any impact. Is it something that takes longer?

09/23/2008, 02:14 PM
It can take quite awhile. Especially when there are lots of bigger Aiptasia. When I was at Neptune's we had a customer bring in a Aiptasia covered rock and said the Berghia weren't doing anything. We laterpulled a two inch Berghia off of the rock (they normally don't get that big, that was the only giant one I have ever seen). Give them a couple more months and let me know how they're doing. If they are stinging corals go ahead and jab those Aiptasia so they will get eaten first.

12/29/2008, 05:31 PM
Hmm Long time no reply for me..

I'm in Washington State but on the East side.. . I gave into temptation and got a tank again last week.. I'm apparently in a LFS dead zone here.. Best store in town closed last month so now I'm stuck with Petco, one LFS with several small cubes of abused SW fish and no coral or a drive to Spokane, Portland or Seattle.

There is an active Reef club so maybe there is hope.

Reef keeping, You can Check out any time you like but you can never leave.

12/29/2008, 06:37 PM
Glad to hear from you again Scott. Any pics of the new setup? How is the family doing?

"Umm, fish?"
12/29/2008, 07:17 PM
Well, good luck up there, Scott. Let us know if you need us to send you chaeto care packages or something.... :)

12/30/2008, 02:42 AM
The family is doing great.. It's good to be back near family and get a night out without the kids 1 or 2 times a month..

I should have pics of the tank soon.. I got a complete SW setup off CL and it needs a bit of TLC.
Mostly I'm in plumbing hell right now.. The old plumbing was a flood waiting to happen so I'm re-working it all.
It's a 55 that's drilled in the center of the bottom pane. 3 - 1/2" bulkheads.. Not much flow to work with there..
I'm thinking of drilling the back for 2 drains and a CL intake then using the 3 bottom bulkheads for CL returns.

It came with an Excalibur skimmer, 10gal sump, 50 lb of live(ish) rock and 6x65w PC lighting. The return pump was shot.

I'll be adding a 5 or 10 gal refuge too. probably the same clear plastic tub setup I used for the 65 gal tank.

"Umm, fish?"
12/30/2008, 08:24 AM
Night out? Night out? I hear your words but I do not understand your meaning.... ;)

Good luck on the new tank!