Tergipes tergipes

Tergipes tergipes (Forsskål in Niebuhr, 1775)

Tergipes tergipes by Bernard Picton
Class: Gastropoda  Cuvier, 1797
Subclass: Heterobranchia  J.E. Gray, 1840
Clade: Euthyneura  Spengel, 1881
Clade: Nudipleura  Wägele & Willan, 2000
Order: Nudibranchia  Cuvier, 1817
Suborder: Dexiarchia  Schrödl, Wägele & Willan, 2001
Infraorder: Cladobranchia Willan & Morton, 1984
Parvorder: Aeolidida Odhner, 1934
Superfamily: Fionoidea Gray, 1857
Family: Fionidae  Gray, 1857
Genus: Tergipes  Cuvier, 1805
Species: Tergipes tergipes (Forsskål in Niebuhr, 1775) [Limax]

Taxonomic note: The phylogenetic analyses performed by Cella et al. (2016) revealed that the traditional Tergipedidae family is polyphyletic and belongs to a larger monophyletic clade including members of the traditional families Eubranchidae, Fionidae and Calmidae; this was an unexpected result, since the validity of these taxa and their distinctness from the Tergipedidae was never questioned before. They proposed to join the families Tergipedidae, Eubranchidae, Calmidae and Fionidae under the name of Fionidae.


  • Aeolis neglecta Lovén, 1846
  • Eolidia despecta Johnston, 1835
  • Limax tergipes Forsskål in Niebuhr, 1775 (original)
  • Tergipes despectus (Johnston, 1835)
  • Tergipes lacinulatus de Blainville, 1824

This is a very small species of aeolidacean, not exceeding 5 mm in length, that has a narrow and elongated body. The general coloration is yellowish-white but the transparent integument allows the observation of most cream coloured viscera from the second right cerata almost to the tail, and the dark green digestive gland, in the form of a serpentine shaped cord that runs almost the entire length of the body and whose branches run into every cerata. Oral palps are short and translucent while the rhinophores are long and thin and are soft brown pigmented on the base. The back and sides of the head are also finely coloured in light brown and there are also two elongated dark brown spots ranging obliquely from the rear base of the rhinophores to the insertion of the first cerata; in these brown spots are where the eyes are located. The shape and arrangement of the cerata is characteristic of this species: only one series of cerata on each side of the body, symmetrically placed the first two and the rest alternating from one side to the other, being the right cerata somewhat more advanced than the left side cerata. The cerata are long and thin, narrower at the base, within them the dark green digestive gland is visible. The genital orifice is located below and slightly forward of the first right cerata. The foot is semi-transparent, it does not form propodiales tentacles in its forward zone and the tail is long.

This small aeolidacean has been observed living over several species of hydroids like Aglaophenia pluma, Bougainvillia ssp., Campanularia sp., Clava multicornis, Gonothyraea loveni, Laomedea flexuosa, L. gelatinosa, L. loveni, Obelia dichotoma, O . longissima, Sertularia sp. and polyps of Sarsia eximia. Some of these species are epibionts of bivalve molluscs such as mussels Mytilus galloprovincialis and could be their food. Although it is a species that is not often seen, possibly due to their small size and mimicry with the hydrarian colonies it lives on, it has been sometimes cited as gregarious. Spawning takes the form of a transparent reniform capsule and 2 mm in length, containing 150 white eggs of 80-100 microns of diameter.

This is a species that has a wide geographical distribution, having been cited on both sides of the Atlantic and in the Mediterranean. In the western Atlantic it has been cited from the Arctic, Newfoundland and down to the coast of New Jersey (USA), also in the coast of Brazil. In the eastern Atlantic coasts it has been cited in the shores of Denmark, Nederlands and Belgium, the British Isles and Ireland. In the Iberian Peninsula it has been cited in the Cantabrian area, along the Portuguese coast, in Andalusia, the Levantine coast and Catalonia (it has been cited just once, at Sitges, over the hydrarian Obelia dichotoma epibiont of mussel shells). It has also been cited in the Ukrainian Black Sea coast.

Known georeferenced records of the species: Tergipes tergipes (z-200).
: GROC 2010-2011 : VIMAR
: Enric Madrenas : Manuel Ballesteros.
: João Pedro Silva : M@re Nostrum
: Bernard Picton : Other sources
: GBIF.ORG : Marine Regions


        Western Mediterranean:1 Stars
        Eastern Mediterranean:0 Stars
        Atlantic Ocean:3 Stars
This chart displays the observation probability for Tergipes tergipes
based on our own records.

More pictures


Bibliography based on the works by Steve Long, 2006. Bibliography of Opisthobranchia 1554-2000 and Gary McDonald, 2009. Bibliographia Nudibranchia, with later updates from other resources.

Further reading

Cite this article as:

Ballesteros, Manuel, Enric Madrenas, Miquel Pontes et al. (2012-2017) "Tergipes tergipes" in OPK-Opistobranquis, Published: 30/11/2012, Accessed: 29/03/2017 at (http://opistobranquis.info/en/xqYC8)

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