The stenophagous ascoglossan (=sacoglossan) opisthobranch Elysia viridis has long been a model organism for the study of endosymbiosis or kleptoplasty as well as one of the few herbivores to consume the introduced green macroalga Codium fragile on European shores. Larval and post-larval dynamics of the ascoglossan were investigated. Planktotrophic larvae of E. viridis grew at 5–10 μm d−1 (shell length) at 15°C on a unicellular algal diet (the cryptophyte Rhodomonas baltica); larvae became competent one month post-hatching. Effective feeding and chloroplast acquisition typically started within 2–3 d of metamorphosis. Slugs grew about 8 mm in the first month of post-larval life. During this period, juveniles held in the light did not grow faster or survive better than conspecifics held in the dark; thus, functional kleptoplasty did not occur during first three weeks of benthic life. While larval growth rates and the nature of metamorphic cues are consistent with those of many other opisthobranch species with planktotrophic larvae, measures of post-larval growth—particularly as it pertains to kleptoplasty—is a new contribution to opisthobranch biology.
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