The arminacean nudibranchs are a small group of species that live in soft substrates, preferably where they can burrow in search of food. Species of the Arminidae family, defining the group type, to which the genus Armina belongs, are characterized by the presence of a large mantle shield-shaped, rounded in the front and sharp in the back side. The mantle can be adorned by some short and rounded tubercles or by longitudinal grooves. There are a couple of small rhinophores located close together and with longitudinal lamellae. The head, located below the front part of the mantle has a pair of flattened lobes that are used to dig into the sediment. Beneath the mantle and the body sides there are laminar extensions, the more anterior axially oriented (lateral lamellae) and behind them there are other oblique and more numerous lamellae than work as gills and that are penetrated by branches of the digestive gland.

Armina neapolitana by Enric Madrenas

The arminaceans of the genus Armina live in soft bottoms, where they find their preys and can roam on the bottom, or buried in it, as they have the front of the body adapted to it. They feed on the group of octocoral cnidarians like pennatulaceans or alcyonaceans. Instead Doridomorpha gardineri lives on and feeds on the blue coral Heliopora coerulea. Some species of the genus Dermatobranchus have been cited to feed on soft corals, gorgonians and stoloniferous cnidarians.

Molecular phylogenetic analysis conducted in recent years on different groups of nudibranchs have shown that traditional arminaceans are not a monophyletic group. Today we tend to accept that the only real arminaceans are those belonging to the families Doridomorphidae and Arminidae that belong the clade Euarminida, with the rank of infraorder. The phylogenetic affinities of the other families of traditional arminaceans (Goniaeolididae, Heterodorididae, Charcotiidae, Dironidae, Proctonotidae, Madrellidae and Pinufiidae) are not yet well resolved, so they have been temporarily joined with other Cladobranchia families of uncertain relationship, under the name of “Unassigned Cladobranchia”. However, in the end we consider the taxonomy of these families well separated from the Arminoidea.

  • Parvorder Euarminida
    • Superfamily Arminoidea Iredale & O’Donoghue, 1923
      • Family Arminidae Iredale & O’Donoghue, 1923: includes the genus Armina Rafinesque, 1814, Dermatobranchus van Hasselt, 1824, Heterodoris Verrill & Emerton, 1882, Histiomena Morch, 1860, Pleurophyllidiella Eliot, 1903, Pleurophyllidiopsis Tchang, 1934. Only a few species of Armina and Heterodoris have been cited in Iberian waters.
      • Family Doridomorphidae Er. Marcus & Ev. Marcus, 1960: it only includes the genus Doridomorpha Eliot, 1903, with a single Indo-Pacific species D. gardineri Eliot, 1903.


  • Family Goniaeolididae Odhner, 1907: with a single genus Goniaeolis M. Sars, 1861 and a single species G. typica M. Sars, 1861, that lives in northern European waters.
  • Family Charcotiidae Odhner, 1926: includes genus Charcotia Vayssière, 1906, Leminda Griffiths, 1895, Pseudotritonia Thiele, 1912 and Telarma Odhner, 1934, none of which have representatives in Iberian waters.
  • Family Dironidae Eliot, 1910: this family includes a single genus Dirona MacFarland, 1905 with only 3 species in American and Pacific waters.
  • Family Madrellidae Preston, 1911: this family includes the genus Eliotia Vayssière, 1909, with a single species E. souleyeti Vayssière, 1909 cited in northern Europe, and Madrella Alder & Hancock, 1864 with 4 species, only one, M. aurantiaca Vayssière , 1902, living in European and Iberian waters.
  • Family Pinufiidae, Er. Marcus & Ev. Marcus, 1960: with a single genus Pinufius Er. Marcus & Ev. Marcus, 1960 and a single Indo-Pacific species P. rebus Er. Marcus & Ev. Marcus, 1960.
  • Family Proctonotidae Gray, 1853 included in this family we have the genus Bonisa Gosliner, 1981, Caldukia Burn & Miller, 1969, Galeojanolus M.C. Miller 1971, Janolus Bergh, 1884 and Proctonotus Alder & Hancock, 1844. Only species of the genus Janolus are found in the Iberian Peninsula waters.

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

Armina maculata

Armina maculata

Armina loveni - Photograph ©Bernard Picton

Armina loveni

Armina neapolitana

Armina neapolitana

Armina tigrina by João Pedro Silva

Armina tigrina