Rostanga rubra

Rostanga rubra (Risso, 1818)

Rostanga rubra by Miquel Pontes

Class: Gastropoda  Cuvier, 1797 
Subclass: Heterobranchia  J.E. Gray, 1840 
Clade: Euthyneura  Spengel, 1881 
Clade: Nudipleura  Wägele & Willan, 2000 
Order: Nudibranchia  Cuvier, 1817 
Suborder: Euctenidiacea  Tardy, 1970 
Infraorder: Doridacea  Thiele, 1931 
Superfamily: Doridoidea  Rafinesque, 1815 
Family: Discodorididae  Bergh, 1891 
Genus: Rostanga  Bergh, 1879 
Species: Rostanga rubra (Risso, 1818) [Doris]


  • Doris coccinea Forbes, 1848
  • Doris rubra Risso, 1818 (original)
  • Rostanga perspicillata Bergh, 1881 
  • Rostanga rufescens Iredale & O’Donoghue, 1923 
  • Rostanga temarana Pruvot-Fol, 1953 

Specimens may reach about 20mm long but they generally measure from 10-15mm. The general coloration of the body is homogeneous red but the back is dotted by small brown spots, more abundant on both sides of the notum and some irregular white spots. there is a characteristic white line between the two rhinophores. All the back is adorned with numerous and tight caryophyllidean-shaped tubercles which are visible to the naked eye. Each of these tubercles has a cylindrical base widening to an inverted bell shape on top and has 5-7 divergent spines in the margin; in the center of the bell there is a central rounded button. The rhinophores are brown with some white flakes on the lamellae’s edge; the rhinophores sheath has 7-8 caryophyllidean-shaped whitish tubercles on its upper edge. There could be up to 10 branchial sheets of the same color of the body. The branchial sheath also has up to 15-16 caryophyllidean-shaped tubercles. The foot is relatively narrow with a pointed tail. The foot ahead has two short oral palps.

This colored species of doridacean is usually found from the intertidal zone, below rocks or in walls covered with algae and sponges, down to about 60 m depth. Different authors have cited that it feeds on red sponge Clathria (= Microciona) atrasanguinea, a red colored encrusting siliceous sponge from where is supposed that the nudibranch extracts the pigment that gives color to its body. It has also been reported to feed on sponges Hymeniacidon sanguinea or Ophlitaspongia pennata also encrusting and with a similar color to Clathria. In all these cases the nudibranch keeps a perfect color mimicry with the sponge, so it is not easy to find.


  • Rostanga. Possibly referred to the Swedish village of Röstånga.
  • Rubra. From Latín “rubrus”, red.

It is distributed throughout the Mediterranean and European Atlantic coasts up to Norway. Also cited in Cape Verde, Canary Islands and Madeira. In the Iberian Peninsula it has been found in all coastal areas. In the Catalan coast it has been sporadically located in the Costa Brava (Cap de Creus, L’Escala and Begur).

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

References for the species: Rostanga rubra

    Cantabria: Hidalgo (1916). Galicia: Vayssière (1913), Ortea (1977c), Fernández-Ovies (1981), Urgorri and Besteiro (1983, 1984), Rolán (1983), Valdés and Gosliner (2001). Portugal: De Oliveira (1895), Hidalgo (1916), Nobre (1932), García-Gómez et al. (1991), Calado et al. (1999, 2003). Andalucía (Atl.): Cervera (1988). Gibraltar: García-Gómez (1982, 1986b, 2002). Andalucía (Med.): Templado, Luque and Moreno (1988), Sánchez Tocino, Ocaña and García (2000a), Ocaña et al. (2000). Levante: Templado (1982b, 1983, 1984). Catalunya: Ros (1975, 1978), Domènech et al. (2002), Ballesteros (datos no publicados) [Cala Fredosa, Tossa de Mar, Cala Sant Antoni]. Canarias: Ortea et al. (2001), Moro et al. (2003), Wirtz and Debelius (2003). Madeira: Wirtz (1999).

    Sources: Cervera et al., 2004, Ballesteros, 2007 & 2016, McDonald, 2006 and other sources.


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

More pictures


Further reading

Cite this article as:

Ballesteros, Manuel, Enric Madrenas, Miquel Pontes et al. (2012-2017) "Rostanga rubra" in OPK-Opistobranquis, Published: 16/05/2012, Accessed: 18/12/2017 at (

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