Doridacean nudibranchs are characterized by having a more or less dorsoventrally flattened body, by the presence of large mantle that may have embedded spicules and may also have different projections (tubers, papillae) and the existence of a dorsal branchial plume formed by several branchial leaves surrounding the anus. Rhinophores are found in the anterior region of the notum, provided with lamellae and retractile (cryptobranch doridaceans) or just contractile (fanerobranch doridaceans).

Felimare picta by Enric Madrenas

The doridaceans are carnivorous and feed primarily on sponges and bryozoans. They feed by using their radula, that can have some to many teeth on each row, but the species of the family Dendrodorididae lack any radula at all, and feed by sucking food with their suctorial type buccal bulb. Many doridacean species have external parasites of the Copepod Crustaceans group, often of the Splanchnotrophidae family, moving primarily around the ​​gill leaves. Doridaceans have the most powerful defense mechanisms within the nudibranchs. Many species of several families present some mantle glands called MDF (for “Mantle Dermal Formations”) where they accumulate several secondary metabolites that have a large antidepredant effect when they are expelled to the outside, which happens easily when the animal is disturbed. These powerful defensive substances have allowed these nudibranchs to acquire flashy colorations  in the course of evolution, called warning (or aposematic) colorations, to prevent attacks by their possible predators.


The updated doridaceans taxonomy is as follows:

  • Doridacea infraorder Thiele, 1931
    • Superfamily Doridoidea Rafinesque, 1815
      • Family Actinocyclidae O’Donoghue, 1929: with genus Actinocyclus Ehrenberg, 1831 and Hallaxa Eliot, 1909, none of which have species in European waters.
      • Family Cadlinidae Bergh, 1891: includes species of the genus Aldisa Bergh, 1878 and Cadlina Bergh, 1878, both with representatives in European waters and in the Iberian Peninsula.
      • Family Chromodoridae Bergh, 1891: this family includes species from about 17 genus, distributed mainly in tropical and subtropical waters. In Iberian waters there are only species of the genus Felimare (= Hypselodoris until the revision of Johnson & Gosliner 2012) Ev. Marcus & Er. Marcus, 1967 and Felimida (= Chromodoris until that review) Ev. Marcus, 1971.
      • Family Discodorididae Bergh, 1891: one of the largest families of nudibranchs, with about 28 different genus, of which Baptodoris Bergh, 1884, Carminodoris Bergh, 1889, Geitodoris Bergh, 1891, Jorunna Bergh, 1876, Paradoris Bergh, 1884, Peltodoris , Bergh, 1880, Platydoris Bergh, 1877, Rostanga, Bergh, 1879, Taringa, Er.Marcus 1955, Tayuva Er. Marcus & Ev. Marcus, 1967 and Thordisa Bergh, 1877, are species that live in European waters.
      • Family Dorididae Rafinesque, 1815: contains species of 6 genus, of which only Anisodoris Bergh, 1898 and Doris Linnaeus, 1758 have European species.
    • Superfamily Onchidoridoidea Gray, 1827
      • Family Akiodoridae Millen & Martynov, 2005: none of the 5 genus including (Akiodoris Bergh, 1879, Armodoris Minichev, 1972, Doridunculus, G.O. Sars, 1878, Echinocorambe Valdés & Bouchet, 1998 and Prodoridunculus Thiele, 1912) has species in Iberian waters.
      • Family Goniodorididae H. Adams & A. Adams, 1854, with 8 genus, of which the following are species in European waters: Ancula, Lovén, 1846, Goniodoris Forbes & Goodsir, 1939, Okenia Menke, 1830 and Trapania Pruvot-Fol, 1931.
      • Family Onchidorididae Gray, 1827, with 8 genus included in this family, in Iberian waters only have been cited the following: Acanthodoris Gray, 1850, Adalaria Bergh, 1878, Corambe Bergh, 1869, Diaphorodoris Iredale & O’Donoghue, 1923 and Onchidoris Blainville, 1816.
    • Superfamily Phyllidioidea Rafinesque, 1814
      • Family Dendrodorididae O’Donoghue, 1924 (1864): only two genus in this family whose representatives have no radula, Dendrodoris Ehrenberg, 1831 and Doriopsilla Bergh, 1880, both have species in European waters and Iberian.
      • Family Mandellidae Valdes & Gosliner, 1999: includes only one species of the genus Mandelia Valdés & Gosliner, 1999, which is not found in European waters.
      • Family Phyllidiidae Rafinesque, 1814, of the 5 genus that conform this family, Ceratophyllidia Eliot, 1903, Phyllidiella Bergh, 1869, Phyllidia Cuvier, 1797, Phyllidiopsis Bergh, 1876, and Reticulida Brunckhorst, 1990, only the last 3 have species living in European waters.
    • Superfamily Polyceroidea Alder & Hancock, 1845
      • Family Aegiridae P. Fischer, 1883 the monogenic family Aegires Lovén, 1844 has about 24 species, 4 of which live in Iberian waters.
      • Family Gymnodorididae Odhner, 1941: includes 4 genus (Gymnodoris Stimpson, 1855, Lamellana Linnaeus, 1992, Lecithophorus Macnae, 1858, Paliolla Burn, 1958), none of them with European species.
      • Family Hexabranchidae Bergh, 1891: with a single genus Hexabranchus Ehrenberg, 1828 and only two currently accepted species living in tropical waters. H. sanguineus (Rüppell & Leuckart, 1830) is the famous “Spanish dancer” for his ability to swim by moving their broad mantle edge.
      • Family Okadaiidae Baba, 1930: a single genus Vayssierea Risbec, 1928 with 4 species, none of which are found in European waters.
      • Family Polyceridae Alder & Hancock, 1845: with a lot of species, includes 5 subfamilies and 19 genus, the following having species in European waters: Limacia OF Müller, 1781, Polycera Cuvier, 1817, Thecacera Fleming, 1828, Plocamopherus Leuckart, 1828, Crimora Alder & Hancock, 1862, Roboastra Bergh, 1877, Polycerella Verrill, 1880, Kaloplocamus Bergh, 1892 and Tambja Burn, 1962.

Doridacean species recorded in the Mediterranean or around the Iberian Peninsula:

Acanthodoris pilosa by Klas Malmberg (Sweden)

Acanthodoris pilosa

Aegires leuckartii by Enric Madrenas

Aegires leuckartii

Aegires palensis @ Costa Brava (Spain) by Enric Madrenas

Aegires palensis

Aegires punctilucens by Luis Ángel Díaz Álvarez

Aegires punctilucens

Aegires sublaevis 11mm @ Dwejra, Gozo, Malta 5m 29-07-1994 by Carmel Sammut

Aegires sublaevis

Aldisa banyulensis

Aldisa banyulensis

Aldisa smaragdina

Aldisa smaragdina

Aldisa zetlandica by Klas Malmberg (Sweden)

Aldisa zetlandica

Ancula gibbosa by Klas Malmberg (Sweden)

Ancula gibbosa

Aporodoris millegrana

Aporodoris millegrana

Atagema gibba First British record, Porthkerris, Cornwall. 24.11.1973. - Photograph ©Bernard Picton

Atagema gibba

Atagema rugosa @ Coral Gardens, Cape Peninsula, South Africa 16-04.2006 by Andrew Taylor (Lic. CC BY-SA)

Atagema rugosa

Baptodoris cinnabarina

Baptodoris cinnabarina

Cadlina laevis (Portugal) by Joao Pedro Silva

Cadlina laevis

Cadlina pellucida

Cadlina pellucida

Carminodoris boucheti by Manuel Ballesteros

Carminodoris boucheti

Chromodoris quadricolor @ Red Sea by Enric Madrenas

Chromodoris quadricolor

Corambe obscura @ Lake Worth Lagoon, West Palm Beach, Florida, USA 1-02-2015 by Linda Ianello

Corambe obscura

Corambe testudinaria @ Perbes (Ría de Ares, Galicia) 01-11-1978 by Victoriano Urgorri

Corambe testudinaria

Crimora papillata by Enric Madrenas

Crimora papillata

Dendrodoris fumata by Vishal Bhave

Dendrodoris fumata

Dendrodoris grandiflora by Enric Madrenas

Dendrodoris grandiflora

Dendrodoris herytra

Dendrodoris herytra

Dendrodoris limbata by Enric Madrenas

Dendrodoris limbata

Diaphorodoris alba by Enric Madrenas

Diaphorodoris alba

Diaphorodoris luteocincta @ Mataró, Barcelona, Spain 6-05-2016 by Enric Madrenas

Diaphorodoris luteocincta

Diaphorodoris papillata

Diaphorodoris papillata

Discodoris rosi @ Costa Brava 2-05-2015 by Enric Madrenas

Discodoris rosi

Discodoris stellifera by Enric Madrenas

Discodoris stellifera

Doriopsilla areolata (Portugal) by Joao Pedro Silva

Doriopsilla areolata

Doriopsilla pelseneeri (Atlantic)

Doriopsilla pelseneeri

Doris bertheloti by Enric Madrenas

Doris bertheloti

Doris ocelligera by Manuel Ballesteros

Doris ocelligera

Doris pseudoargus Eating the sponge Amphilectus fucorum, The Burroo, Calf of Man, Isle of Man. - Photograph ©Bernard Picton

Doris pseudoargus

Doris sticta Skomer Island, Pembrokeshire, Wales. 22 June 1975. - Photograph ©Bernard Picton

Doris sticta

Doris verrucosa by Manuel Ballesteros

Doris verrucosa

Felimare bilineata (Portugal) by Joao Pedro Silva

Felimare bilineata

Felimare cantabrica @ Asturias by Luis Ángel Díaz

Felimare cantabrica

Felimare fontandraui

Felimare fontandraui

Felimare gasconi 15mm @ San Teodoro, Capo Coda Cavallo, may 1994 in 3m by Mauro Doneddu

Felimare gasconi

Felimare orsinii

Felimare orsinii

Felimare picta

Felimare picta

Felimare tricolor by Enric Madrenas

Felimare tricolor

Felimare villafranca by Enric Madrenas

Felimare villafranca

Felimida binza by Enric Madrenas

Felimida binza

Felimida clenchi @ Lake Worth Lagoon, West Palm Beach, Florida, USA 6-08-2007 by Anne DuPont

Felimida clenchi

Felimida edmundsi @ Sardina del Norte, Gran Canaria 1-09-2011 by Aketza Herrero

Felimida edmundsi

Felimida elegantula @ Olbia locality Cuncheddi, Sardinia, 06 July 2013, rocky bottom, -2 m by Mauro Doneddu

Felimida elegantula

Felimida goslineri

Felimida goslineri

Felimida krohni by Enric Madrenas

Felimida krohni

Felimida luteopunctata @ Tarifa (Spain) by Manuel Martínez Chacón

Felimida luteopunctata

Felimida luteorosea @ Costa Brava (Spain) by Enric Madrenas

Felimida luteorosea

Felimida purpurea @ Cala Montgó, L'Escala, Spain 5-03-2016 by Miquel Pontes

Felimida purpurea

Gargamella perezi @ Portlligat (Cadaqués) 7-12-2015 by Enric Madrenas

Gargamella perezi

Geitodoris bacalladoi by Luis Sánchez Tocino

Geitodoris bacalladoi

Geitodoris bonosi by Manuel Ballesteros

Geitodoris bonosi

Geitodoris perfossa @ Madeira by Peter Wirtz

Geitodoris perfossa

Geitodoris planata by Enric Madrenas

Geitodoris planata

Geitodoris portmanni by Enric Madrenas

Geitodoris portmanni

Geitodoris pusae @ Lake Worth lagoon, West Palm Beach, Florida, USA 24-09-2009 by Anne DuPont

Geitodoris pusae

Geitodoris rubens

Geitodoris rubens

Goniobranchus annulatus (Red Sea) by Miquel Pontes

Goniobranchus annulatus

Goniobranchus obsoletus @ Gordon beach, Tel Aviv by Tal Shema

Goniobranchus obsoletus

Goniodoris castanea (Portugal) by Joao Pedro Silva

Goniodoris castanea

Goniodoris nodosa @ Strangford Lough, Co Down, Northern Ireland. 20 Oct 2005 by Bernard Picton

Goniodoris nodosa

Halgerda_willeyi @ Malapascua, Philippines 12m 5-03-2005 by Erwin Köhler

Halgerda willeyi

Hypselodoris infucata (Beirut, Lebanon) by Sonja Ooms

Hypselodoris infucata

Hypselodoris pulchella @ Sharm-El-Sheikh, Egypt (Red Sea) 27/09/1996 by Erwin Köhler

Hypselodoris pulchella

Jorunna efe @ Taliarte 1-07-2016 by Marcos Jiménez González

Jorunna efe

Jorunna luisae

Jorunna luisae

Jorunna onubensis by José Carlos García Gómez

Jorunna onubensis

Jorunna tomentosa by Enric Madrenas

Jorunna tomentosa

Kaloplocamus ramosus by Enric Madrenas

Kaloplocamus ramosus

Knoutsodonta depressa - Photograph ©Bernard Picton

Knoutsodonta depressa

Limacia clavigera by Enric Madrenas

Limacia clavigera

Limacia iberica @ Ria de Arousa (A Coruña, Galicia, Spain) by Jacinto Pérez Dieste

Limacia iberica

Okenia aspersa Tiree, W. Scotland. Collected Bob Earll. - Photograph ©Bernard Picton

Okenia aspersa

Okenia elegans 28mm @ Kašuni, Split (Croatia) 4-03-2016 7m by Jakov Prkić

Okenia elegans

Okenia impexa

Okenia cf. impexa

Okenia Leachii Shiant Islands, NW Scotland. 1988. - Photograph ©Bernard Picton

Okenia leachii

Okenia mediterranea (Atlantic)

Okenia mediterranea

Okenia miramarae @ Taliarte, Gran Canaria 23/03/2016 by José Juan Calderín Peñate

Okenia miramarae

Okenia cf. zoobotryon by Enrico Ricchitelli

Okenia cf. zoobotryon

Onchidoris albonigra

Onchidoris albonigra

Onchidoris bilamellata by Klas Malmberg (Sweden)

Onchidoris bilamellata

Onchidoris inconspicua Gulen dive resort, March 2012. Collected by Torjus Haukvik. - Photograph ©Bernard Picton

Onchidoris inconspicua

Onchidoris neapolitana

Onchidoris neapolitana

Onchidoris proxima by Klas Malmberg (Sweden)

Onchidoris proxima

Onchidoris pusilla by Bernard Picton

Onchidoris pusilla

Onchidoris sparsa

Onchidoris sparsa

Palio dubia by Alexander Semenov

Palio dubia

Palio nothus @ Loch Sween, Scotland 20160206 by Matt Barnes (NE Atlantic Nudibranchs )

Palio nothus

Paradoris indecora by Enric Madrenas

Paradoris indecora

Peltodoris atromaculata by Enric Madrenas

Peltodoris atromaculata

Phyllidia flava by Enric Madrenas

Phyllidia flava

Phyllidiopsis bayi by José Carlos García Gómez

Phyllidiopsis bayi

Platydoris argo by Enric Madrenas

Platydoris argo

Plocamopherus maderae @ Gran Canaria by Aketza Herrero

Plocamopherus maderae

Plocamopherus ocellatus @ Movenpick Beach, Beirut, Lebanon 26.09.2015 by Sonja Ooms

Plocamopherus ocellatus

Plocamopherus tilesii @ Cambodia 13-10-2016 by Jeerapong Prathomsup

Plocamopherus tilesii

Polycera aurantiomarginata by José Carlos García Gómez

Polycera aurantiomarginata

Polycera elegans Skomer Island, Wales. July 1975. - Photograph ©Bernard Picton

Polycera elegans

Polycera faeroensis

Polycera faeroensis

Polycera hedgpethi @ Portovenere, Italy by Davide Lopresti

Polycera hedgpethi

Polycera quadrilineata by Enric Madrenas

Polycera quadrilineata

Polycerella emertoni 3mm @ Qajjenza, Malta 1m depth 18-08-1993 by Carmel Sammut

Polycerella emertoni

Roboastra europaea @ Isla de Tarifa (Cadiz, Spain, Atl. shore) 10-10-2015 by Manuel Martínez Chacón

Roboastra europaea

Rostanga anthelia

Rostanga anthelia

Rostanga rubra by Miquel Pontes

Rostanga rubra

Tambja ceutae by Sergio López González (

Tambja ceutae

Tambja marbellensis @ Albufeira, Portugal may 2016 by Stefan Verheyen

Tambja marbellensis

Tambja limaciformis by Fernando Aguado

Tambja mediterranea

Taringa armata 20mm @ Porto Istana, Sardegna, Italy 02-1994 1m by Mauro Doneddu

Taringa armata

Taringa faba by Manuel Ballesteros

Taringa faba

Taringa pinoi

Taringa pinoi

Tayuva lilacina

Tayuva lilacina

Thecacera pennigera Skerries, Portrush, Co Antrim, Ireland. - Photograph ©Bernard Picton

Thecacera pennigera

Thordisa filix by Manuel Ballesteros

Thordisa filix

Trapania_fusca 5mm right @ Delimara, Malta 5-10m depth 15-09-1996 by Carmel Sammut

Trapania fusca

Trapania hispalensis

Trapania hispalensis

Trapania lineata by Enric Madrenas

Trapania lineata

Trapania luquei @ Las Eras, Tenerife, Canary Islands by Jonathan González Rodríguez

Trapania luquei

Trapania maculata by Enric Madrenas

Trapania maculata

20100930 Trapania orteai by Fabio Russo at Sant'Agnello, Napoli

Trapania orteai

Trapania pallida (Portugal) by João Pedro Silva

Trapania pallida

Trapania tartanella (Atlantic) by Carlos Fernández-Cid

Trapania tartanella


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.

Cite this article as:

Ballesteros, Manuel, Enric Madrenas, Miquel Pontes et al. (2012-2017) "Doridacea" in OPK-Opistobranquis, Published: 16/05/2012, Accessed: 29/03/2017 at (

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