Berghia Nudibranch

Berghia Nudibranch by John Harris (Aiptasia)

What Are Berghia Nudibranchs?

Berghia nudibranchs are very small invertebrates that live in coral reef environments. Marketable sizes of Berghia Nudibranchs are generally between 1/4 ” to 1″ or larger in length (6mm to 25mm). They have small, soft bodies with short tendrils on top and crawl around the reef not unlike a tiny slug in your garden. 

What Do Berghia Nudibranchs Eat?

Berghia Nudibranchs eat very small hydroid anemones, such as Aiptasia anemones and Majano anemones.  They are nocturnal, preferring to feed when your tank lights are off. This is all that they eat and will starve without aiptasia to eat. When they run out of food, you can easily capture them with a turkey baster and re-home them to a friend in need.

Berghia Nudibranch
(c) Used with permission.

Do Berghia Nudibranchs Work?

Yes. They work very well as an all natural solution to removing aiptasia and majano anemones. We have personally used them in our reef tanks when we’ve had outbreaks of aiptasia. You might not see your Berghia Nudibranchs at all in your reef tank, but rest assured that there is no crevice that they cannot crawl into and no hidey hole they cannot reach. If you have the right number and size Berghia Nudibranchs, you will begin to notice their populations begin to disappear. In cases of large infestations of aiptasia, it can take some time for the Berghia Nudibranchs to clear them all out.

Are Berghia Nudibranchs for sale?

Yes! Due to their fragile nature and voracious appetite for hydroids, it’s very difficult to keep and breed aiptasia anemones unless you set up a breeding program specifically for them. Most pet shops will leave that up to the professional breeders and they’re lucky if they can order them through a distributor. I found the best way to go was to buy direct from an online reputable breeder. 

How Many Berghia Nudibranchs Do I Need?

Berghia Nudibranch
(c), used with permission.

That depends on the size Berghia you are buying. In my experience, the larger the Berghia is, the easier it can survive shipping and the more independent they are. When smaller, they tend to hunt for aiptasia in small groups. At 1″ size, 2-3 Berghia can do the work of 8-10 berghia at 1/4″ size. But, in a tank with stable water parameters and plenty of aiptasia, they grow fast. Generally, i’d recommend 1 Berghia per 10 gallons at 1″ size and maybe 3 Berghia per 10 gallons of tank space if the Berghia are smaller than 1/2″. If you have a severe aiptasia infestation, you can always add more Berghia.

How Do I Acclimate Berghia Nudibranchs to my tank?

Drip Method is best. If you’ve ordered them from a reputable dealer online, you will receive a set of instructions, a shipping bag or container with Berghia Nudibranchs in them and occasionally a wide mouthed eye dropper for safe transfer into your tank.

Place your Berghia bag in a clean cup (I like sanitary solo cups right out of the sleeve) and just snip off the top with a pair of scissors, like an open baggie of water inside of a solo cup or if you have a container jar, open the container jar. Inspect the lid and the edges of the jar for any hiding berghia. Use your eye dropper to gently puff jets of water underneath the Berghia until you can dislodge them from the container so they can all fall to the bottom. Get them below the halfway point on the jar and then remove 1/2 of the volume of water by gently pouring it off. If they’re in the solo cup in a baggie, simply run your drip line output end to the cup and start the drip. If they’re in the container half full of water, just put the drip line in the container and start the drip. When the cup or container fill up completely, stop the drip and pour off 1/2 of the water carefully keeping the berghia in the cup/container. Then, re-insert the drip line and begin the drip again. By the time the cup or container has been re-filled completely a second time, your berghia will be ready for transfer into the tank. You can either simply place the container jar into your tank if that is what you have and let them crawl out on their own (recommended method) or you can blow little jets of tank water under them to dislodge them from the bag or jar. Once they are floating, suck them up carefully into the wide mouthed eye dropper and transfer them to the rock work in your tank. 

Will Wrasse Eat Berghia Nudibranch?

Certain wrasse, such as the sixline wrasse, will eat small nudibranchs as part of it’s diet. To defend themselves against predators, Berghia Nudibranchs have the ability to utilize the stinging nematocyst cells which aiptasia and majano anemonies use to sting and irritate other corals. They move these stinging cells to their tendrils along the top surface of the Berghia’s body. Doing that generally gives them a bad taste to most fish, but I guess a wrasse will eat even the nastiest of bristleworms. Most other saltwater fish leave them alone or spit them out after a taste.

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