Phylliroe lichtensteinii

Phylliroe lichtensteinii  Eschscholtz, 1825

Phylliroe lichtensteinii 3-01-2017 by Linda Ianello

Class: Gastropoda  Cuvier, 1797
Subclass: Heterobranchia  J.E. Gray, 1840
Clade: Euthyneura  Spengel, 1881
Superorder: Nudipleura  Wägele & Willan, 2000
Order: Nudibranchia  Cuvier, 1817
Suborder: Dexiarchia  Schrödl, Wägele & Willan, 2001
Infraorder: Cladobranchia Willan and Morton, 1984
Parvorder: Dendronotida Odhner, 1934
Superfamily: Tritonioidea  Lamarck, 1809
Family: Phylliroidae  Menke, 1830
Genus: Phylliroe  Péron & Lesueur, 1810
Species: Phylliroe lichtensteinii  Eschscholtz, 1825


  • Phylliroe amboinensis Quoy & Gaimard, 1832
  • Phylliroe atlantica Bergh, 1871
  • Phylliroe lichtensteini Eschscholtz, 1825
  • Phylliroe rubra Quoy & Gaimard, 1832
  • Phylliroe pelagica H. Adams & A. Adams, 1858
  • Phylliroe roseum D’Orbigny, 1836

Fish-like, laterally flattened body, up to about 55 mm in length, without papillae and completely transparent. The tail is short, less than 16% of the body length. The foot is reduced to a pedal gland not disrupting the body outline. The head, before the relatively small rhinophores, is directed downwards, with a terminal mouth. The anus is located on the right lateral side in the centre of the body. The digestive gland and other organs are visible through the skin by transparency. The digestive gland has no constriction in the middle, which is characteristic of Phylliroe lichtensteinii. Literature is pretty confuse with the species of Phylliroe, species determination traits range from the presence of a restriction in the digestive gland to the number of gonads, and then from the number of gonads: P.bucephala is said to have 2 gonads, while P.lichtensteinii is said to have from 3 to 5, but the fact is these beautiful species have been neglected in many studies and identification is not clear.

This species is hermaphroditic.  The juveniles have been reported to parasitise the medusae of the cnidarian Zanclea, attaching to the inside of the bell, on which they feed and remain until adulthood. In adulthood its diet is no longer restricted to Zanclea, although observations of feeding behaviour are sparse. Phylliroe has been seen approaching a swarm of the larvacean Oikopleura albicans from below, grabbing a specimen with its paired denticulate jaws and swallowing it in half a minute. Adults have also been observed to prey on the medusa AequoreaThis is a pelagic species that is highly bioluminescent and emits flashes of light when disturbed. Despite it seems to prefer the upper water layers, vertical distribution for this species suggests that it lives at a depth of about 60 meters (Fernández-Álamo, 1997) and, at night, participates in a vertical migration towards the surface. It does not like light, so when it is discovered by a diver, begins to swim towards deep water (L.Ianello, pers.comm.).


  • Phylliroe, from Greek “phyllon”, leaf + “roe”, water current, or water flow.
  • Lichtensteinii, honors Martin Heinrich Lichtenstein, German physician, explorer and naturalist who, in 1844, published descriptions of animals collected around Australia. He worked at the Zoological Institute in Berlin.

This species is known from the warm waters of Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, also in the Mediterranean.

Known georeferenced records of the species: Phylliroe lichtensteinii
: GROC 2010-2011
: Enric Madrenas
: João Pedro Silva
: Bernard Picton
: Manuel Ballesteros.
: M@re Nostrum
: Altres fonts
: Marine Regions


    Western Mediterranean:
    Eastern Mediterranean:
    Atlantic Ocean:
This chart displays the observation probability for Phylliroe lichtensteinii based on our own records.

More pictures


Further reading

Cite this article as:

Pontes, Miquel, Manuel Ballesteros, Enric Madrenas et al. (2012-2017) "Phylliroe lichtensteinii" in OPK-Opistobranquis, Published: 24/04/2016, Accessed: 23/11/2017 at (

In order to copy this cite or text fragments you must be a registered user.