Taxonomy: Sea Hare belongs to the Kingdom Animalia, Phylum Mollusca, Class Gastropoda, Order Opisthobranchia, Family Aplysiidae, Genus Aplysia and Species punctata.
Scientific names: The scientific name of Sea Hare is Aplysia punctata.
Origin or natural range: Sea Hare is found in the Indo-Pacific region, British Isles including Britain and Ireland.
Size: Generally, Aplysia punctata grows up to a length of around seven centimeters to twenty centimeters.
Color: Sea Hare occurs in black, olive, purple, brown, tan, red and green colors.
Compatibility: Aplysia punctata is non-aggressive towards the other marine aquarium members.
Habit & Habitat:
- Sea Hare is found in shallow waters generally and sometimes in the shaded regions on rock pools, coral rubble and seagrass.
- When disturbed, Aplysia punctata secretes purple colored liquid, called as ink or dye, which is used to blind the predators. This secretion is basically a result of electrical synapses stimulating neurons to react violently in synchronization.
- Sea Hare is non-poisonous in nature.
- Aplysia punctata is a kind of marine sea slug, the body color of which may vary according to its consumption of the color of algae it consumes. The young ones of Sea Hare eat red algae and are red in color while, the ones ready to breed and found on shore, consume Fucus and Ulva and are green or brown in color.
- Aplysia punctata has a long and narrow body with black, grey and white spots running along the body length.
- There are two large muscular flaps, called parapodia, at the back of the body of Sea Hare that fuse at the posterior end of the body.
- The anterior oral tentacles of Aplysia punctata are short and lead to the mouth, which is a slit like opening situated at the front portion of the body. The long and slender motion sensor tentacles with stalks, called rhinophores, are located at the head of Sea Hare. The total situation of the two pairs of tentacles yields a hare like appearance to the Aplysia punctata and therefore the common name.
- The transparent, pale amber colored internal shell of Sea Hare is around four centimeters long and is visible through a large opening, called as foramen, situated at the mantle of the hare.
- The pedal sole of Aplysia punctata is narrow and its penis is broad with no spine, resembling the shape of a spatula.
Growth enabling environment in your marine aquarium:
- Sea Hare is hermaphrodite and reproduces sexually. At times, Sea Hares form mating chain on the shores where they act as males to the hares below them and as females to the ones above them.
- Sea Hare lays pink colored eggs that are threaded.
- Temperature of water: Seventy-two to seventy-eight degrees Fahrenheit.
- Specific gravity of water: 1.023 to 1.025.
- pH of water: 8.10 to 8.40.
- Illumination: Sea Hare requires indirect low light in the marine aquarium it inhabits.
- Habit & habitat:
- To host Aplysia punctata, you should have a reef type marine aquarium with sandy bottom having the algae Caulerpa in it.
- Give ample space to Sea Hare to move around in your marine aquarium.
- Feeding & Nutrition:
- Aplysia punctata is herbivorous in its feeding habit and eats seaweeds only, especially hair algae.
- Sea Hare acquires its body color according to the color of algae it consumes. Those eating red algae are red in color while, the Aplysia punctata eating Fucus or Ulva are green or brown in color.
- Add parboiled lettuce and dried kelp as dietary supplements for Sea Hare.
- Benefits: Sea Hare feeds upon hair algae primarily, wherever it is present in a marine aquarium, be it in sand or on rocks. Aplysia punctata therefore, keeps your reef tank free of hair algae.
- Aplysia punctata is moderately difficult to maintain and should be handled by expert aquarists only.
- The high levels of Nitrates and Copper in your marine aquarium may be detrimental to the health of Sea Hare therein.
When disturbed, Aplysia punctata secretes a purple colored dye which may cause chemical complications if allowed to stay in the marine aquarium. Therefore, your tank should have an effective chemical filter system in place to eliminate the dye completely from the water as soon as possible.