Life history and aging of captive-reared California sea hares (Aplysia californica)

Robert Gerdes, Lynne A. Fieber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Although the California sea hare, Aplysia californica, is well known from neurobiological studies and is raised in the laboratory for this purpose, various aspects of its life history in the laboratory, such as aging dynamics, are unknown. Therefore we collected life history data on 4 cohorts of eggs from hatchery-reared animals and performed an actuarial analysis of mortality data. Temperature was controlled at 13 to 15 °C, the photoperiod was a 14:10-h light-dark cycle, and the seawater O2 concentration, pH, and salinity were held at optimized levels. The feeding protocol for 3 cohorts was unrestricted access to the red macroalga Gracilaria ferox, whereas the remaining cohort was fed standard hatchery rations of G. ferox 4 times per week. Growth was sigmoidal in each cohort and resulted in linear growth rates of 1.25 to 3.62 g/d during the exponential phase; these rates were not influenced by feeding level. Sexual maturity occurred at approximately 160 g, at ages ranging from 144 to 241 d. Egg production was highly variable in the different cohorts. Mean lifespan of cohorts fed ad libitum was approximately 228 d. In contrast, the cohort fed standard rations lived an average of 375 d and showed a lower initial mortality rate, suggesting that calorie restriction on a single-species diet prolongs lifespan in California sea hares.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)40-47
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2006
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology


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