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Aeolidiidae Family

Family Aeolidiidae

The size of aeolidiids range from small to quite large. The elongate body may be narrow or broad, and the back is often crowded with cerata. The foot is usually wider than the body and the anterior corners are enlarged, and either angular or tentacular (propodial tentacles). The oral tentacles are usually long. Rhinophore presentation can be smooth or annulate or with clubs that are lamellate or papillate. The cerata are often, but not always, numerous. Their shape can vary from flattened to cylindrical and tapering. When distressed, aeolidiids tend to readily cast off their cerata. In most aeolidiids, the cerata are arranged in regular, oblique rows. The majority prey upon sea anemones. Species of the genus Cerberilla plough beneath the sand and are dorso-ventrally flattened with small rhinophores, clearly adaptations to that habitat. Many species of this family have also developed a symbiosis with zooxanthellae obtained when digesting their prey and subsequently “farm” them within special branches of the digestive gland in the body wall. These branches containing the zooxanthellae appear as fine brown reticulations just under the skin.