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FAQs on Sponges, Phylum Porifera 1

Related Articles: Sponges in Marine Aquariums

Related FAQs: Sponges 2, Sponges 3, Sponges 4, Sponge Identification, Sponge Selection, Sponge Compatibility, Sponge Systems, Sponge Feeding, Sponge Disease, Sponge Reproduction,

Aplysina colony in Antigua, Caribbean

Strange white puffs in my sump! Mr. Fenner, <Steven Pro this morning.> I have a 150 gallon tank with a trickle filter underneath. The lower section of the trickle filter has white puffs all over! They are all over the bio-balls (just the ones under water), they're on the sides of the trickle filter-underwater, and they are starting to grow inside my protein skimmer! What the heck is this and what should I do?! <I don't know what exactly it is, my best guess is a type of sponge. Regardless, it is probably a harmless filter feeder and should be left alone.> I can take a digital picture if it would help! <Sure> Thank you in advance, Kevin Ballard <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Sponge ID Please could you tell me what this is? I saw this on my saltwater tank and It very slowly started moving from my live rock to this corral its on in the picture. There is a another bigger one in the back, but I cannot get a clear picture of it. There are also little small ones all over the live rock. Could you please possibly let me know what these things are ? Thank you, Rome <you have a common and quite interesting sponge in the photo. From the image I cannot fathom a guess as to its scientific name but may I suggest that you refer to Paul Humann's fine reference "Reef Creatures" for a name or relative. With kind regards, Anthony>

Sponge Question Hello! I recently purchased a feather duster for my 140 (tall) tank, and noticed that a small, blue-green lump was on the "tail" of the duster. I was informed that this lump was a sponge, and it is still alive and doing well. <some sponges do fare very well in captivity... especially calcareous species> My question is - where do I place the feather duster? Are the lighting/flow requirements the same for the duster as for the sponge? <yes... both are delicate filter feeders and depend on good water flow for their very lives. A refugium fed raw tank water would be ideal> My tank is 4" ft long, 2 1/2" tall, 2 actinic bulbs, one blue, one "pink", 2 daylight, and I have three powerheads (2 at 400, 1 at 600) for flow. My PH is 8.4, Ammonia is .15, Nitrite is 0, Nitrate is .10, Phos is .04, and calcium at 450. I also have an angel fish that I cannot identify - she is blue, with black & white stripes, like a Koran or Singapore - but the stripes are straight, and only bend at an angle when the stripe is at the top or bottom. If I send a picture of the fish, I am hoping that someone can identify her for me? <will do> THANK YOU for all your help, and I love the website! Very helpful! -Cathy Hughes Fort Worth, TX <Fort Worth?! Are you going to the premier marine aquarium conference in the country that just happens to be held in Dallas-Ft Worth this year? MACNA... check it out at www.dfwmas.com WWM will have a table there... Steve and I are going for sure. Kindly, Anthony>

Tree Sponge Hi Anthony, one question with my reef. I have had a tree Sponge for just over 8 months. <pretty good run for this notoriously challenging animal. Most aquarists are advised not to buy this creature for mixed reef displays. Only species specific displays with experimental phyto reactors, Seagrass refugiums for epiphytic material, etc> I think when I got it I didn't completely transfer it under water, and I lost the base it was attached too. <common> I was very lucky in that the sponge did not die. <agreed> However it has nothing to rest on...I have attached a picture so you can see the exposed base. I have "planted" it into my substrate, but within a week it is back out and leaning against the rock. Questions. <no matter> (1) is it O.K. for the base to be submerged under the aragonite? <nope... the sponge is a colony of filter feeding "cells"... the buried section will stifle and rot> (2) Can I stick the end into a piece of live rock with a hole in it? <same problem> (3) would a piece of PVC with a hole cut in it be better <again> (4)If the base is stuck into PVC will it deteriorate under the PVC berried in the aragonite? <yep... better to make a stem/spike to stick this creature on (like a spike that clerks use for stabbing/collecting receipts> I really like this specimen and hope to keep it for many years, 8 months it not a success just yet. Thanks Larry <what are you feeding the animal, my friend? It is aposymbiotic and your reef looks like a mixed coral garden set up for symbiotic inverts (the skimmer for example that keeps your other animals alive will starve the sponge likely). Anthony>

Re: Tree Sponge For feeding, in the past I have been providing a frozen food from Ocean Nutrition called "invert food" that contains Zooplankton/Phytoplankton mixture. My LFS says this food is no longer available, so I have been stirring the sand bed once per week creating a mini-storm. <this is a much better feeding strategy for filter feeders... please continue> Recently I found "DT's live Phytoplankton" and have been feeding this once or twice per week, and still stirring up the sand once per week. <OK> Is the 8 months with no deterioration a sign that I am on the right track, or does this sponge last for a year then fade away from starvation? <the latter for most my friend. Sponges do not lose weight apparently like humans do. Still, you might succeed... more time is necessary> Would you suggest other foods to feed? I have had a silver gorgonian for about 1 year and I figured they both would benefit from the sand stirs and plankton feeding. <the silver gorgonian is likely photosynthetic (dirty/ off-colored polyps? Not pure white right?) and can easily live for decades with proper care in captivity> BTW I have a Red Sea Berlin skimmer that works O.K. on my 125G, <sorry to hear it> it pulls about 1/3 cup per week of very dark liquid out of my tank. <not even remotely adequate, but if you are not having problems with nuisance algae, do regular water changes and tend to keep aposymbiotic creatures (non-photosynthetic) then it is just as well> From my reading a good skimmer should do this daily, < a full cup daily should be easy... hardcore reefers/skimmers can draw more than a cup daily with well designed skimmers. Very high water quality here> maybe the poor skimming is inadvertently contributing to my success with this sponge? <exactly my friend. Now do yourself a favor and be sure to stick with a them in the tank... either photosynthetic corals or non-photosynthetic animals. If you try to do both... one is sure to die. Yes, it may live a year or two... but this is sad compared to the natural lifespan of many decades (if not over 100yrs) for many> Thanks, Larry <best regards, Anthony>

Image use Do you have a better image of the Green finger sponge, Iotrochota birotulata that we could use in a University of Florida educational PowerPoint presentation for coastal students. <Mmm, pls see the attached jpegs of already made scans. Will these work? Bob Fenner, WetWebMedia.com> Ginger M. Allen Sr. Biological Scientist Florida Master Naturalist Program Coordinator Department of Wildlife & Ecology Conservation University of Florida/SWFREC 2686 SR 29 N
Immokalee, FL 34142-9515

Re: lettuce sponge with feathers? Hi again Bob, <Hello> Thanks for your speedy reply! I looked through the cnidaria section of the web site, but haven't seen anything resembling this. I am sending you a couple pictures I took of this lettuce sponge with it's bright red "plumage". <Yes... See what you mean. This looks more like a "red" algae (likely a blue-green/Cyanobacteria) growing on the surface of your sponge> I am not sure that I can snip it off since it covers a pretty wide area and is inside the folds of the sponge. Do you think it looks like a hydroid from these pictures? <No, an algae> I am worried that the sponge might be dying or something. If you look close you can also see tiny red (algae?) spots all over it. There are even a couple of small bubble algae growing the other side of it. <Yes> As always, I appreciate your valuable advice. Laura <You might want to either place this animal/colony in a less bright setting, or alternatively move the lighting to shield it from so much intensity... also check on your nutrient levels (esp. phosphate, nitrates) and try to curtail... best by enhanced skimming, the growth of purposeful, competing macro-algae (like in a sump/refugium), maybe even a mud filter addition. All these terms can be searched on WetWebMedia.com Bob Fenner>

Lettuce sponge with feathers? Hi Bob! <Hello there> I have searched and searched through this web site but could not find anything similar to this problem... I have had an orange lettuce sponge in my reef tank for about 3 months now. It has been doing fine, but a few weeks after I got it, I started noticing a red feathery type of growth on it. The "feathers" continue to spread and grow larger, and I have no idea what this is. Is it a type of harmful algae, or just a natural part of this sponge? A turbo snail wandered onto it once and ate most of it off, but it just grew back. Any ideas? <Likely some type of hydroid. See here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/cnidaria.htm I might leave all alone... but am inclined to mention that if your sponge seems to be suffering from this growth, I might "snip" it off... with sharp scissors... with part of the sponge where it's attached... and siphon/vacuum out as much of the material as you can after. Bob Fenner> Thank you, Laura

Sponges Anthony: <cheers, mate!> Thanks again for your detailed reply. I will see what I can do about the sponges. It is indeed so sad to see these creatures go to waste. <indeed... in the last decade as a professional aquarist.. I have seen far more good done in this industry than bad... but still, one can't help but get a little bummed sometimes at others ignorance of the fact that these are living creatures not just commodities> I should have stuck with the Ricordeas. <please... no worries... only be inspired to be better informed in the future. Indeed, we all learn the hard way sometimes... just hopefully we learn to hedge our bets as we get older/wiser <G>> The more stories like mine are known and people read of these mistakes, the better. I am not proud of my story but I also think it is for the greater good for people to hear about it. <exactly my friend! Some weeks we have 6,000 people a day reading our FAQ's... and the site is growing ever strong. Stories like this save lives as other aquarists read, learn and heed. Thank you, my friend> The sponges were packed in water and I knew enough not to expose them to air. <excellent!> At least that should not be a cause of their demise. <yes... unless you've actually seen the poorly paid labor at a wholesaler's facility packing animals. Heehee... you are assuming that the fellow making 6.50/hr packing your order knew or cared to heed the same concerned. For that matter... how can we be sure that through the entire chain of custody from collection to you the animals was never lifted out of water to be bagged or tanked. In fact, the opposite is the standard and another reason for these creatures poor survivability.> I could have sworn that the transparent growth was new rather than decaying old growth but I don't want to risk the life of the rest of the tank based on that. I am likely wrong about the growth. <I would be ecstatic to be mistaken and witness to the exception... do hold out for a few days to a week longer and see how it progresses. You will see shortly more pigment waning or perhaps new growth extending... let us see> My dilemma now is whether to experiment a little longer with these creatures in hopes of helping them survive or to just put them out of their misery. I have no delusions of being able to raise these sponges where others have failed, but perhaps I can learn something so their life is not totally wasted. <exactly... and if you determine the condition to be decay... you can trim away with a razor or scissors hoping the air/necrosis hasn't penetrated too far. It is a fairly slow process> I may be able to set up a small tank (10 gal or so) with a powerhead and some basic filtration but I cannot set up another large tank. <the small tank in fact would be better to concentrate food in suspension and make the necessary extra water changes even more affordable!> I could put some liverock in that tank too. <fine/muddy deep sand (5"+) for many sponges...refugium style> However, I believe there will be far more variety of nutrients in the large tank. Sponges grow close to reefs. Why are their requirements so different from the other creatures there? <unlimited supply of nutrients that in aquaria at that level would feed a fierce nitrate generating machine but in the dilute ocean is utilized by a threshold population of hungry waiting "mouths" so to speak> Questions: - Is their release of toxins sudden (like a sea cucumber or sea apple) or slow (like any decaying organism)? <likely slower if not stressed by heat, etc> - Can I afford to keep these creatures in the main tank for a few more weeks to see how things progress or do they need to be pulled out without delay? < at least another 1-2 weeks depending on progress of decay> As far as the purple gorgonians, there are two separate specimens. One he called a whip, the other was non-descript. Both are purple with white polyps that come out to feed. <eh... I wish I hadn't heard that part.. heehee. I thought we had a winner <G>. One of the giveaway distinctions between aposymbiotic (filter-feeders...the tough guys) and symbiotic gorgonians is the color of the polyps. Aposymbionts have white polyps (or matching colored ones: red, orange, yellow to stalk)...whereas the hardy symbiotic ones are tinged a dirty off-white/tan/cream/brown color by the hosted zooxanthellae. Before stressing, lets get a photo ID book and get some genera names> The first one is just long slender stalks parallel to each other, all coming together close to where the specimen attaches to a rock. The other has more branching in the individual stalks. I will try to take a picture this evening. This is just a description of what I see, more than a request for help. <Okay> They are indeed very sensitive to water flow. I had originally placed the branching specimen in an area with only slow water flow and the polyps did not come out for several days. <yep> I ended moving it in front of a power head and the polyps came out again. <yep, yep> They seem to sense when there is food in the water since they tend to come out when I put the phytoplankton in the tank and stay hidden the rest of the time. <ahh... further evidence that they too are aposymbiotic. Photosynthetic gorg.s instead have polyps open at least all day catching sunlight and "making food"> I am confused concerning DT's: You make a point about putting it in the blender, but what I use (DT's concentrated phytoplankton) comes in fairly small bottles and looks essentially like a deep green transparent fluid. I can't see how a blender could make the particles in it any smaller. <ameliorate it with water in a blender and whisk. The mechanical action breaks up the inevitable clots of still shelf cultures (compared to active aerated live cultures)> When I feed it to the tank, the juice is very fine and within several tens of seconds the whole tank turns a little green. I do not see any blobs or coagules of the stuff. <microscopic... wiser men and women than I have studied this under microscope... it is unmistakable> I do believe there is another kind of DT's that comes in larger bottles that perhaps is different, but I have not seen it locally. Am I misunderstanding something? <all have a shelf life, my friend... and all such organic supplements will naturally clot as portions of the supplement inevitably age and/or degrade/die. A microscope will reveal all to you or faith in the work of competent and non-partisan experts <G> like Dr Rob Toonen will attest to such> I continue to have issues with the skimmer. After a couple of days of fairly dry foam, and just after I wrote to you :) it started foaming wet again. Do you know of any good online references that talk about the physics and chemistry of foam fractionation? <Pablo Escobar wrote a great book on such physics... scary smart stuff> The skimmer vendors just talk of breaking in periods <which is a complete lie... the only set backs are the 6-12 hours after cleanings while collenoids take to coat the interior of the neck to assist foam climbing. You can skim within 24 hours on a new tank> and how oils can hamper foaming but not much about wet vs. dry foam. My skimmer produces plenty of foam, it is just too wet sometimes. <again... usually too fast of water flow or too much air> I try not to change the adjustment too much and this last time it went go from wet to dry and back to wet on its own. <just try to reduce the aspiration of the air slightly if possible> The main difference is feeding - obviously the water chemistry. Perhaps the phytoplankton is getting skimmed out and causes the skimmer to go crazy! I <indeed different foods have different effects on skimmers> t will be interesting to figure out how to balance the skimming with the feeding requirements, especially since I don't have a mechanical filter to help on the side, while the skimmer is off. <little to worry about> I do believe the short cycle and current water chemistry is due to the combination of the live rock with a 3"+ sand bed of real gulf sand - it was already live and full of critters and bacteria when I got it and was collected a couple of days before it was shipped to me. <very nice!> This seems to have greatly helped to keep ammonia and nitrites low. <agreed... fully cured and properly handled live rock/sand is a treasure> Ammonia only reached 05 ppm for 3 days after I put the 90 lbs of rock in, and didn't spike at all after I added another 60 lbs 2 weeks later. NO2 spiked to 2 ppm with the first load and to 1 ppm with the second load. NO3 reached between 25 and 50 ppm (the granularity of my test kit). All these measurements are on Salifert test kits. Thanks for putting up with all my ramblings. I really appreciate this site and its sponsors. <and again... I appreciate you helping me/us to illuminate some concerns in our industry for the benefit of others> Henry
<with kind regards, Anthony>

Re: Diatom Filter now Sponges Anthony: Thanks for the reply and I appreciate the extra comments on the gorgonians and sponges. <my pleasure and thank you for putting up with my venting of an industry gripe> Although I kept a 120 gal FO tank many years ago (when I lived 45 min.s from the beach in El Salvador, and I caught all my own livestock) and also have had a FOWLR 10 gal nano-tank for the past three years, <all excellent to hear!> I have no experience with corals and the like. More than fish or even corals, though, I like the other life on the rocks and around the reef the best. <yes... so very fascinating!!!> In fairness to Tampa Bay Saltwater, they were not the vendor I used. I bought my rock from Gulf-View.com and also in fairness to gulf-view, they only offered free Ricordea polyps for the purchase of live rock. <yes...thank you for the clarification. And indeed, to be sure... I do not intend to single out any one vendor as representative of a whole industry. In fact, I asked only as a bit of a personal survey based on reports from aquarists that can be so heartbreaking. Indeed Bob has had to listen to such queries and stories for many decades and I know that in part it has been a motivation in his writings and teachings (books, lectures, this very web site!) to inspire responsible and Conscientious aquarium trade activity. After seeing the practice of collecting inappropriate animals shift or at least waffle between selling and giving away animals that have a staggering mortality and prospect in captivity... I just took a moment to vent my frustration and dismay at seeing yet another beautiful animal collected inappropriately when so many other hardy ones are available for our study and viewing pleasure.> I did ask if the sponges and purple gorgonians would do OK and if they wouldn't mind giving me a few of those instead of all the Ricordeas I had coming to me. <wow... the Ricordea polyps were a MUCH better choice... yet I still would never offer them to someone getting new live rock (risk of ammonia spikes, etc)> Dale Barger was very accommodating. Perhaps he could have tried to discourage me and not said sponges might be OK, but I need to take responsibility for not doing more research before going for the pretty specimens at the last minute, while I was placing my order for the rock. <I think we all need to take responsibility for the collection and distribution of such animals. If a vendor wants to have continued good business (short of exploiting an endless stream of uninformed aquarists, then they need to conduct themselves responsibly with a long view for their customers and the living resource (reefs) that support them. And as consumers, we cannot depend on the above. We must resist impulse purchases and be informed before we buy. If we cannot expect a collector to collect responsibly, then we can strong arm them fiscally with the power of our dollars.> So far I am very happy with the rock I got but now I need to see what I can do to keep the life forms alive and really be a conscientious marine aquarist (love Bob's book). <yes... agreed. All friendship aside, it is far and away one of the most important books on aquarium science ever written in my opinion. An amazing reference> I will take you up on your offer to help me try to keep these beautiful creatures alive. <excellent... if your gorgonian is indeed purple, it may very well be photosynthetic and rather easy to keep assuming it gets an amazing amount of linear water flow. (well over 10X tank turnover). And gorgonians are believed to be some of the most active phyto feeders that we know of. The sponge... wow... I just don't know where to begin short of setting up a small dedicated tank for it. It's requirements are nothing like your symbiotic reef inverts, corals, polyps, and much of what is on the live rock. Lets identify the species first. Quite frankly, if it is a red tree sponge... I will be surprised if it lives to see 8 months (not even 8 weeks for many). Was the sponge even shipped in an airless bag? Were you instructed to release it under water without exposing it to air? If not... we may not have to bother discussing husbandry for it (and perhaps you can empathize even more with my passion for seeing this for nearly a decade... such a waste, it is heartbreaking). Some sponges (like the demo species on your live rock) can easily take exposure to air... while others will not tolerate the slightest exposure (air becomes trapped inside of them and they cannot purge it... they die within months). Hmm... lets establish this first and then ID the species if we can move on. Steve Tyree of Dynamic Ecomorphology has written an incredible book on sponges. You may want to look up his thorough work on the topic> I will also do some research on the phyto plankton and zooplankton reactors. So far I've been feeding DT's concentrated phytoplankton, trying to baste it close to the various organisms and leaving the sump pump off for a while. <and remember that it must always be refrigerated (from point of purchase through use) and less than six months old (else it clots to a larger particle size that cannot be used/eaten by your hungry captives. Also... the instructions on bottled phyto rarely emphasize the need to whisk it in a blender before using it...again to reduce particle size. Dr Rob Toonen recently did a comparative study on these products detailing this. Still, DT's has a wonderful reputation. Please do continue to experiment with it> I guess you are saying the sponges and gorgonians really need more zooplankton, rather than phytoplankton. Correct? <actually not at all. Most coral prefer zooplankton. Many gorgonians strongly favor phytoplankton... with sponges it varies or is not clearly known (although they are inclined to eat more minute plankton... perhaps phyto, bacteria, etc).> I have one orange tree sponge, one red tree, a red wall sponge, two purple gorgonians and the Christmas tree worms on a clam. Here are some pictures to make sure we are talking of the same creatures. I had some focus problems but hopefully you can make out enough from the pictures to see what I have. <yes... thank you , my friend. The pictures help so much... although the bad news just got a little worse. At least two of the three sponges will be dead within weeks rather than months, I am sorry to say. And what's worse is that sponges have a greater concentration of natural toxins than even most cnidarians (stinging animals like coral)... so not only will you have the pollution from their rotting tissue, but you will have to deal with some extra noxious compounds. I believe I can make out the telltale watery translucence of the beginnings of decay on the first picture of the orange tree sponge. And the decay has been clearly observed on your red tree sponge as you have inquired with thoughts of possible new growth. I'm sure you can see a little better why I feel so passionately about vendors providing such difficult, dangerous and doomed organisms to aquarists that haven't been duly advised. It is a great dis-service to customers, the industry and life. These free animals just cost you some money for the extra water changes and chemical filtration (extra carbon and poly-filters would be great) just to temper their death and byproducts in your tank. OK...some good news now... the picture you queried as "Porites" is actually/likely a Siderastrea radians "Star" or "Starlet" coral. It is perhaps one of the hardiest corals on the face of this earth!!! A wonderful coral that can adapt to a wide range of light and water movement. And the small coral polyps you pictured with the burgundy corallines is a solitary cup species. Cladocora is just one of several similar looking genera that this coral might be. As it develops, do compare it to pictures in Paul Humann's great dive book series including the book Reef Coral for a better ID.> I have higher resolution pictures but I didn't want to clog your internet connection should you have a dialup connection. <no need but thank you for the consideration> I would really like to keep the encrusting sponges alive. <they require little maintenance. regular fish feeding (sources of carbon incidentally from feeding and excrement) and a mature inline refugium are often all that is needed> Please note the ones in the picture of the Red Tree Sponge (on the rock behind the red tree) and the Burgundy Sponge picture. Behind the red tree is a big area of orange sponge, and on the upper right hand and lower left hand corner of the orange is also a brown sponge that looks more like a brain surface, with ridges and the like. There's also some yellow growth. What can I provide for them? <as above> The free standing sponges seem to be doing OK but it has only been a few weeks and I would not like to see them starve. The red tree sponge seems to be growing. <it is dying, my friend... a loss of pigmentation> One of its fingers is growing some translucent tissue on its tip, and that growth looks like it is starting to get some of the orange color (can't see the color in the picture). The consistency of the tissue is similar to the orange tissue of the sponge. It is just clear instead of orange. <the odds of this being growth are astronomically small... but lets be patient and hope for the best instead. Please give us an update if you like in a couple of months. It would be very exciting to hear that you have been an exception and great success story! We will be sure to quiz you on your husbandry with hope of gleaning some tidbits to share with other aquarists to improve all of our success with this animal in captivity. As a rule, you will never see a tree sponge in a typical reef tank make it to 2 years old. Most never see 6-8 months indeed> The orange tree has a lot of little tubes sticking out from it. They seem to open and close at different times. <siphons... a filter feeder> They come out at each of the white "dots" in the attached picture. I assume the wall sponge is the same as a ball sponge. <yes> There are also a couple of corals that came with the rock. They were just part of the rock and neither the vendor nor I specifically requested them. The rock came from 40 ft of water so I am hoping these corals will survive with the 110 W of power compact lighting that I have. <yes... S. radians will easily and the Cladocora like polyps are very weakly symbiotic or not at all> I think one is a Porites and I have no idea what the other one is (see the Burgundy Sponge picture. Can you help me identify both of these? I will likely be purchasing your book in the next couple of weeks. <please... you can hear me ramble for free by reading the FAQ's here <smile>. Ha! Thank you my friend> I have heard a lot of good things about it. I had not planned to get much into corals but I guess I need all the help I can get! <as we all do... and the first half of the book is on reef style aquarium husbandry (tanks with live rock).. covering all of the basics. There is a table of contents on my website (www.readingtrees.com). Do browse it first if you like> The Burgundy Sponge picture also shows the Christmas tree worm to the right of the rock, right below the featherduster crown. It is different than most other Christmas trees I've seen when diving in Belize. <yes... so many species/colors of worms... many feeding by mucus in pursuit of trapped organisms> The ones I've seen are usually blue or red and fairly light colored. These are dark gray with yellow dots and some white filaments, larger than most I've seen. <yes... beautiful!> I intended to take it very slowly when setting up my tank but I ended up with a few fish when a friend gave up on his tank when his return pump broke. He said it was either my tank or certain death so I took a purple tang, blue tang, royal Gramma, cleaner shrimp, fire shrimp and 7 scarlet snails. They all seem to be feeding well. I also got a couple of dozen snails after the ammonia and nitrites subsided. <a very nice selection and all quite hardy> The stats for the tank show 0 ammonia, 0.1 ppm nitrites (holding at that level for a couple of weeks, I know I need them at 0 - waiting patiently for now.), 25 ppm nitrates, 450 Ca, 8.2 pH and 3.2 meq/l Alk. Ca pH and Alk have been steady since the tank was set up a month ago. I have been tracking all measurements every couple of days. <great chemistry especially for a new tank> Based on a table at marinedepot.com, my Mag 7 pump should be delivering 420 gph on a 5' head and the two Maxijet 900s are doing 230 gph each, or about 960 gph total turnover. <yes not bad... but more for the gorgonians and sponges and especially if you may get more coral in the future> I will see about getting another Maxijet and perhaps plumbing the sump return with more than one nozzle. The AquaC EV120 with Mag 5 pump just recently started producing a thick skimmate. <excellent!> It took almost a month of very wet foaming before it settled into better production now. I don't know if this is due to the skimmer itself or other water chemistry that just took a while to settle down. <not likely any skimmers fault... either the screwy young chemistry, or you made a better tuning/adjustment. Good skimmers such as this could easily produce skimmate daily on a young tank with fresh live rock and fishes> I may make the 3 hour drive to Dallas for MACNA. I'll certainly look up the whole crew. <that will be awesome! Yes, at least Bob, Steve and I so far> Maybe I can even write up something about my new aquarium setup experience for your site! <Yowsa! that would be awesome... you might even get a group hug from WWM for it... but don't let that stop you from writing the article anyway <smile>. Indeed, a piece on your new experiences and perhaps one later as a follow up (pushing my luck yet?) would be so helpful to the many WWM readers. Please send it along to this address when you have a f=draft or polished piece ready. It will be so greatly appreciated!> Regards, Henry
<kindly, Anthony>

Re: Sponges Anthony: <I'll try to respond, as Anthony seems on holiday> Here's a picture of the gorgonians. I just redirected the power head behind them and that seemed to make them open up significantly. <Yes, appear healthy> It seems they like the water flow to change, not just be vigorous. The polyps opened up a lot today and the main difference is I rotated the output of the powerhead a little. This picture was also taken a half hour after adding DT's, which also gets some of the polyps to come out, but not as much as the changed water flow. I decided to get rid of the red tree sponge. On closer examination, it had several open holes in the back, where you couldn't see from outside the tank, and more of the transparent decay. I did not want to risk my tank since you mentioned they produce more toxins than other organisms. I will keep the orange tree and ball sponge a little more and perhaps I will have enough time to get the 10 gal tank in shape before putting them there. It will also be easier to have a vigorous water flow with just one power head. <Okay> As far as the labor at the suppliers, I think both TB Saltwater and Gulf View are very small operations. At least Dave Barge is pretty much a one man show, with his wife and son helping him pack. He personally dives for everything he sells, and seems fairly knowledgeable and caring. <Impressive> I have talked to him about his business and he does not employ anyone to help with the collection and shipping. He may just not realize how difficult it is for the sponges to survive long term. <Agreed. Very common> I do agree with you that this type of misinformation is bad and all concerned should strive to know more about the animals they are dealing with (collecting, selling or buying) for the benefit of the ocean and the hobby. At least these Florida outfits are culturing the rock they sell and not collecting from a living reef. It is hard to tell where transshipped rock is coming from and under what conditions it was collected. <Impossible in my estimation. Thank you for the follow-up. Bob Fenner> Regards,

Re: Encrusting Sponge? Here's a third try at this. I think my previous e-mails have disappeared into the "ether". I am copying more addresses so perhaps one will get the mail. I have not received any messages about bounces at the wetwebmedia.com address. Perhaps some firewall or other security setting is eating e-mails. Henry <Not sure what is going on, but we have suspected that there maybe a problem. Just that none of our internal communication between WWM crew members has experienced any problems and we have sent several test emails and all have showed up. Today all three of your messages came through no problem, but I do not recall seeing any of them previously. Very strange indeed. -Steven Pro> ---------------------------------------------------------------------- Hi! Last Friday I got 75 lbs of Florida aquacultured live rock and 120 lbs of live sand. My tank has now cycled and there is a lot of life on the rocks that I'd like to try to keep for the long term, if possible. In particular, there is this bright orange growth that seems to be some kind of sponge. Do you have any advice on what I can do to care for it? <Not much written on sponges. I did get a chance to leaf through a prerelease copy of Steve Tyree's book on sponges when Bob was at my housing and editing it. It seemed nice enough for a early self-published work from the little I saw. Sponges are filter feeders and need dissolved organics. Feed your fish regularly and experiment with some of the phytoplankton products on the market. Buy fresh and follow the directions explicitly or they are nearly useless. See if you cannot track down something written by Rob Toonen on their use.> Attached is a picture of some of the growth. To the left is another rock that has a similar life form but it is a burgundy color, just a little darker than the pink coralline algae. I assume it is something similar to the orange "stuff" and would need similar care. There is some similar growth on other rocks that is more of a drab yellow color. Also, would you have a source for live Mysid shrimp and copepods that I can purchase to place in the tank? <I know I saw one of the various e-tailers selling packages of pods, mysis, spaghetti worms, etc. Try Inland, Indo-Pacific, etc.> There may already be some amphipods in the sand but I haven't seen them yet and I want to get a colony started. Thanks for your help. -Henry <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Pillowy syconoid sponges Anthony, Thanks for the help, was a little scared of the sponges, not knowing what they were! All seems to be going well. Doug <always welcome, my friend. Syconoid sponges, small feather dusters, copepods, etc. without any significant nuisance algae usually indicate a very nice and consistent level of dissolved organics in the display for invertebrates. Sounds like you may have struck a nice balance. Best regards, Anthony>

Orange sponge do you know the phylum, class, and order of the orange sponge? also: do you know where I could find pictures or information on its internal structures and bodily functions? I have a report due, any information would help. -Justin <Please see here re the Phylum Porifera: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/sponges.htm and here re literature searches: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/litsrchart.htm Bob Fenner>

Coral (sponge) identification Bob, I was wondering if you could Id. this orange sponge I have attached . <Anthony Calfo in your service just the same while Bob travels> I just purchased it two days ago it appears to be very healthy could you tell me lighting ,water flow, and what to feed it and how often. <I'm sorry to say, my friend that you have one of the most challenging species to try to keep. Some folks feel it shouldn't even be imported for the masses or at least such casual purchases (better for special order and advanced aquarists). It is a shame that they are so inexpensive as to be tempting. They are obligate filter feeders of foods not entirely known or replicable to science and aquariology. Some say live phytoplankton may keep these animals for some months to a year. Odds are that yours won't live to see six months I'm afraid. Besides possibly phytoplankton (live not bottled (too large particle size))...strong laminar flow will also be necessary. Some feeding by absorption from sediments may also be in order. You might try keeping it in a muddy well circulated refugium (fishless)> I have been feeding it Reef Vital DNA, Black Powder, and Spectra Vital put out by Marc Weiss. <you really don't want to know my personal opinion here <wink>> I just recently found your web site and I was very Impressed I spent hours reading the information. Thank you for your time, Travis Pierson <good reading.. please continue to do so. May I also suggest that you browse photos to make a list of desired animals for your display and then research them to see which ones will be most suitable to the way you'd like to run your tank. I myself have worked with reef invertebrates for a living for a decade and even wrote a book about the... and I would not attempt to keep this specific sponge. For what its worth. Best regards, Anthony Calfo

Sponges vs. shrooms? WWM Dudes (-bob), <Steven pro this evening.> After reading the pages here, Tullock's book, CMA, sections of Anthony's book (my newest acquisition, so the least read of the 3 -- much info there) I still have some questions re: sponges and soft corals. I am thinking of adding some of these way cool creatures to my 55g FOWLR (at least at present... ) I have CSL PC lighting (2x65 10000K mix of full spectrum daylight and actinic) lighting. Having some trouble finding out much about sponges -- notice in both CMA and the sponge section here that Bob mentions that sponges can engage in allelopathy (sp?) as seriously as corals, but no additional details. What can I mix given my current lighting without WWIII breaking out? <Very little is known about most sponges. The one of the most popular ones that people actually buy (verses hitchhikers on liverock) is the blue sponge, Haliclona. This unfortunately would not last with your current lighting.> Can I mix mushrooms and sponges? <Possibly/probably> How about the leathers (I know I have lighting too weak for some of these, but again, cool animals)? <Again, probably but no guarantees as too little is known.> Is there a book out that gives more detail on caring for these interesting animals? <Steve Tyree wrote a book on sponges. You can also get a small amount of information in Sprung's Invert guide book.> Have searched the sponsors pages, Amazon, etc and am not finding much... I was also reading w interest (and cutting and pasting into my own running WWM FAQ doc) Anthony's comments yesterday re the guy who was initially mixing LPS and SPS. What caught me was the clam discussion, and his comment that some would be appropriate in his current lighting as long as they were in the top 1/3 of the tank. I would love to add a clam after caring for sponges/'shrooms for some months. Again, am I trying to throw too much in the mix? <Possibly with the mushroom and the clams being the biggest problem.> Do I have enough light for one of the lower intensity demanding clams? <No> Thanks as always for the straightforward comments/advice. Rebecca <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Follow-up to sponges vs. shrooms? Thanks for the clarification. Knew (pretty sure anyway) I couldn't do the blue. So stay w red/orange/yellow, correct? <No, most of the sponges offered for sale are Caribbean filter feeders that are almost guaranteed to slowly starve in captivity. Most of the good ones for captivity tend to be fairly ugly. Your best bet is a good reference book with pictures.> Congrats on your new daughter, btw! <Thank you very much. -Steven Pro>

Sponge Hello, I have a red (actually orange) finger sponge that seems to be having a problem. There is a white flaky layer that appears to be spreading over the sponge. The sponge also seems to be getting softer. Also, the sponge keeps getting overgrown with a green filamentous algae. <Good observations, bad changes> I feed with Phytoplex every few days and also use Selcon about three times a week. A few questions: Is the sponge dying? <In a manner of speaking, yes... It is "losing" more than "maintaining" its health> Is the algae preventing the sponge from getting food? <Perhaps... more like it/the algae is utilizing the sponge surface as substrate in the face of conditions that are disfavoring the sponges health, capacity to ward off the algae> Should I flake off this white stuff, cut off the whole sections, or just leave everything? <Mmm, you should do what you can to identify this sponge to species, determine its habitat, nutritional requirements... it may well be a photosynthetic type that requires more light intensity, different light quality, foods than you are providing... Please read over the materials posted on WetWebMedia.com re this life. Bob Fenner> Thank you, Kevin Cossel

Sponge Plague! Bob, Hope all is well. I'm the clown dude with the sandarasopterus pair. No spawns yet. I've been doing too much work in the room. I think I'm intruding on their romantic interludes! I did read your book last month and I can say I found it excellent! It was a really good read with a mix of things I knew, thought I knew, forgot, or never considered. <Interesting. Same sensations I had in writing CMA> It will be kept along side my other "re-reads" with the covers half falling off. My questions: I have a system consisting of four 55 gallon tanks with a common wet/dry, UV, and small skimmer. I placed some not so live rock in the system when it was cycling. It has been cycled almost a year now and the not so live rock has since been moved. The tank that contained the rock has so many dime sized white sponges growing on the back that you can't tell it's a black back tank. These sponges, if that's what they are, have reached plague proportions in a fish only system. They are small dime to nickel size, white, and have a feather duster type mouth on them. They are spongy in texture and not smooth like squirts. I've tried taking a photo with the digital but they just don't come out. The nitrate runs between 0-20 ppm at any given time. I don't think they are harmful but is there any benefit that you would see in leaving them alone? <Many... as filters, modifiers of water quality, probable habitat for other beneficial, benign micro-life... even ornament> I need to upgrade to a better skimmer. I have three of the following systems: Four 55 gallon tanks Wet/Dry with 8 gallons of Bio Balls - Rated for 400 Gallons Iwaki 55 RLT main pump Aquanetics 30 Watt U.V. AMIRACLE 22" Venturi Skimmer I have about $375 per skimmer to spend and was hoping you could make a recommendation? <Mmm, in my not current or vast experience the Aqua-C or Aqua-Medic (Turboflotor) products would be my choices. I would accumulate others opinions with more exhaustive first hand contact before choosing though. Our accumulated opinions can be found on WWM here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/skimselfaqs.htm and beyond and our chatforum: http://talk.wetwebfotos.com/ Where folks will grant you their insights/opinions. Bob Fenner> Take care and thanks again!

Sponges Hi, I have these little white sponges on my live rock, There's around 50 of them that I can see. I have found them to be Scypha ciliata, but I can not find any more info on them. Can you give me any info or any websites that has info about this sponge? <Mmm, there are a few: http://www.itsligo.ie/biomar/porifera/SCYCIL.HTM Do try using different search engines with the scientific name... they can be "searched" through any of your current ones. Bob Fenner> Thank you, Trevor

Name that picture please Mr. Robert Fenner, I hope you might be able to identify what the growth on my live rock might be. I have enclosed a picture. I have gone to liverock hitchhiker all around the internet. Though I think I have heard descriptions that come close, knowing what it might be is more of a help. I'm sure it is a harmless filter feeder. My fish and invertebrates are not harmed by it's presence. Do you have any thoughts? Thank you for your time. Creg PS The actual size is about that of a silver dollar <Hmm, does look like some sort of cup-shaped filter feeding invertebrate... likely a type of sponge... As you suggest, not harmful. Bob Fenner>

Unidentified encrustation on live rock Bob, I've got some sort of...thing...growing on my live rock. It is a clear, hard, encrusting organism that was present (but unnoticed) when I purchased the rock, and has spread to adjoining rocks. When I initially noticed it, it looked like someone had poured super-glue over the rock and allowed it to dry. Since live rock is "fossilized" I assumed this was some quartz-like deposit because it was clear and hard. A few days ago I noticed that it had spread and that there was a cup-like formation in the middle region of the organism (leading me to wonder if this is some kind of really hard sponge?), <Good guess> but this has subsequently disappeared--some sort of reproductive mechanism? <Maybe... or perhaps feeding?> Anyway, I've reviewed all your articles and can't find a reference to anything that sounds like what I've got. Any help would be appreciated--and btw, thanks for all the fascinating articles! <Yikes... could be a bunch of things... Do you have an inexpensive microscope? Need more close detail> Don't know if this is pertinent in this case but I've currently got a 30G tank that's been running for about 3 months, CPR Bak Pak IIR, live rock, aragonite substrate, totally insufficient lighting: 40W (we're building a new 75G tank/hood now), a few fish, snails, crabs, a starfish, and an incredibly large number of hitchhikers/'pods. Salinity 1.024, ph 8.2, temp 79, ammonia 0, nitrite 0, nitrate 0. Thanks again! -Michelle <Hmm, at any length, wouldn't worry too much over this new "flat hard blob"... will likely cycle out, not be harmful in the meanwhile. Bob Fenner>

Re: (update) Unidentified encrustation on live rock Bob, I know you're at MACNA right now, because I was there today (made some nice purchases in the exhibit hall including "The Conscientious Marine Aquarist" which I have been wanting and a FREE copy of "The book of the Marine Aquarium" from one kind vendor), but I wanted to thank you for your help and let you know that what I've got definitely appears to be some sort of sponge. <Okay.... am in Detroit on the way back...> We attempted to photograph it (no, I haven't touched a microscope in 15 years--yuck), but couldn't get a clear shot. My boyfriend (being male and therefore prone to such descriptives) said to tell you that "it looks more like mucus than superglue." <Great!> Anyway, after dusting it off with a turkey baster, we realized that it is no longer hard, but has a soft top layer that is impacted by water pressure, (and poking) and counted five "feeding mouths" (?) that appeared shortly after the tank was fed. These are cup-like and slightly elevated from the rest of the organism, but almost transparent and therefore difficult to locate <Ah! Is either (well, likely), either a sponge of some sort.... or a tunicate/ascidian> As I mentioned previously, it is spreading onto two other covering rocks, being located on a rock that forms the bottom of a triangle formation, so apparently it's happy in its' shaded environment. I hadn't planned on keeping any sponges so now I'll have to do some research to figure out what type it might be, and how to care for it (although complete negligence so far seems to be the ticket). <You are so right my friend. Be chatting. Bob Fenner> Thanks again! -Michelle

Blue sponge ???? Hi Bob, I just picked up this blue sponge today and we made sure it was bagged and placed into our aquarium without being exposed to the air. My question comes in the propagation area, on the trip from the store to our home the sponge has acquired a crack through the middle of its body. Will it heal or should we break the top off completely and try to tie it to a rock or lodge it into a crack. Other than the crack it seems to be fine. Any ideas or tips would be greatly appreciated, I hope this will not be fatal to the wonderful specimen, I am attaching a pic, you cant see the crack in the pic because we turned it into the current to reduce stress and hopefully to keep it from breaking in half. Thanks again Robert Huss [Unable to display image] <In all likelihood this specimen will heal itself if the crack isn't too big and it's otherwise in good health. I would leave it as is. Bob Fenner>

Salinity and sponge questions... Robert, I have a couple of things to ask. First, I must say I am fairly new at reefkeeping. I have a 55 gal tank with a variety of soft corals, a sponge, gorgonians, an anemone, a few sps corals, three fish including a Percula clownfish, Lawnmower Blenny, and a Coral Beauty. I have various inverts such as cleaner shrimp, turbo snails, blue legged hermits. I have live rock also. I keep the water at a fairly constant 78 degrees. (I know that temperature is hotly debated also.) I am trying to be rather thorough because of my next question: What is the proper salinity for this tank? <About NSW, near seawater, 1.025... and more or less steady...> I have read many different guides giving me everything from 1.021 to 1.026. I have read at the higher levels that fish may become stressed. I have also read that the higher levels are better for coral. <Both so> My salinity is currently at 1.024-5 the variance is due to evaporation. I have always found your advice to be indispensable, I cannot seem to find what would be appropriate. Also, if my current levels are off, over what amount of time do I change it? Your help is greatly appreciated. <No worries... and do take a look at the spg/Specific Gravity section including the FAQs stored on our site: www.WetWebMedia.com> My second question: I have a red tree sponge I received from a friend, it is fairly large (8 inches), and has five or so branches. I have been feeding DT's phytoplankton 3 times a week and an invertebrate supplement. After 3 months of seemingly good health and color, the sponge is losing color and becoming a little clear on one of it's tips. I have it away from the other animals/corals in the tank and it has not been exposed to air in my care. I have read the WetWebMedia FAQ and anything else I can find on the care of these sponges. My calcium is 450 ppm, ammonia, nitrates and nitrates are nearly zero. Lighting is two 96 watt power compacts. My phosphates are .003ppm (Probably due to the invert food you think?) <Maybe, but/and this is low/enough...> My question is what could be the culprit and what if anything can I do? <Somethings (plural) missing in your system. Do try other foodstuffs, blended fine, blasted via a baster in this colonies direction two, three times a week, with your filter pumps cycled off (best with timers) for about fifteen minutes... add a vitamin and iodide supplement to this blend ahead of serving> Should I attempt to cut away the necrotic tissue, and how? <Unless "it's" very "bad" I wouldn't... can be easily excised with a sharp single edge razor blade (underwater and watch your fingers!)> Sorry for the long winded questions, I just want to give you all the info that I thought might be pertinent. Thanks, Brandt <I understand. No worries my friend. Bob Fenner>

Unidentified Creature and keeping sponges Dear Bob, To review I'm your fan with a 30 net gal. sump in the basement supporting a Turboflotor, a U/V, a Ca re., auto top off, carbon, chiller, and a 20 net Gal. refugium filled with Caulerpa and red floating macro algae. This is my 12th email to you since planning this system about a year ago. Thanks again for all your help and inspiration. All chemistry shows ideal conditions, weekly checks have become boring. Fish, sps and soft corals are doing well. <Ah, good to hear/read of your successes!> The big sump is sort of crowded with pumps, valves, and the other gear and is not well lighted so I don't know how long I've had these "guests" but I suspect they came with some of the live sand, Caulerpa, and rocks acquired from several sources for the refugium which has copepods and a other small shrimp like animals. When I pulled the Turboflotor for cleaning, I found quite a few small white opaque cylindrical animals clinging to it and in it. Close examination with a flashlight revealed 20 or more of them clinging to the acrylic walls of the sump. I have seen a couple in the show tank at night but they are gone by morning indicating that the fish, hermits, or shrimp (peppermint and cleaner) are eating them. They seam to be some sort of anemone but are not at all like the Aiptasia that I had and conquered months ago. No long waving tentacles. They are various sizes but a typical one is about 0.5 to 1.5 cm. long and 2 to 5 mm in diameter. One end of the animal clings to the glass and the other end exhibits two 1 to 3 mm points or tentacles. Again, nothing like anything I have found in the books or the web site. My question is: are these additional natural fish food from the refugium or, like Aiptasia, something to get rid of on an urgent basis? <Very likely not harmful in the least> Could they be Aiptasia in a part of the life cycle that is very different looking? <Unlikely... but some sort of invertebrate life, probably a type of Cnidarian as you surmise> My second question regards sponges. On a recent dive trip I saw that the beautiful red and purple sponges are something that is missing from my aquarium. <Hmm, there are probably many sponges living in "cryptic" environments, in, under your live rock...> I am considering the small red tree sponge that is offered. Will the tang or hermits eat these? <No> If they die while I am away and the system is "on automatic" will they cause serious pollution? (I have not tried anemones because you warned me of this possibility.) <A real potential, yes> Hope your dive trip was terrific. In Cozumel we taught the grandchildren to snorkel and took them into 15 feet of water along the beach on our octopus regulators - two more fanatics in the making! <Ah, good!> As I'm sure you know, the shallow reef along the shore of Cozumel is perhaps the most "alive" accessible shore line in this hemisphere. <Yes, it is an amazing place. Bob Fenner> Howard

Red or Orange Ball Sponge? Hi Bob, This past weekend I added a sponge to my reef. The sales lady told me verbally that it was an orange ball sponge, but on the list she wrote up for me (to keep what I have straight I have to have it written down) she wrote down red ball sponge. I have read your information on the site, but it doesn't say how to tell them apart? <Hmm, well, both these terms are applied to what I suspect are the same species... of the genus Cinachyra... One of the more common sponges found in the trade... collected out of the tropical West Atlantic as well as the Indo-Pacific... often a reddish or more dark orange will change in captivity to a more washed-out yellow, even looking "dirty" with age, diminished conditions/health> It certainly looks like it's an orange color, but I would like an opinion from someone who has seen them to make a decision. It is quite solid and the holes that take water in can be seen quite clearly when feeding it (I've been using a mix of invertebrate smorgasbord and phytoplankton SP?) <"borg", you will be assimilated... sorry 'bout that... walk the "plank"...> Seems happy so far . . . Also, the piece of live rock on it, that had the white mushrooms on it, is definitely growing coral. It's white and flat, with a honeycomb shaped brown spot pattern to it. Little tentacles come out of each one. <Neat> They are definitely getting larger, slowly. When I can get a picture that is half-way decent I will send it to you to see what you think it is (-: if you don't mind. I have scraped two of the mushrooms off the rock and moved them away, but can't get 3 of them off. Lastly, haven't bought my new light yet. I had tried to buy the Formosa DLS a month ago, but when I got to the store we found that it had a defective ballast. Last week I called and was assured that they had mine in, and would hold it for me. When I got there, the only one they had was the broken one, and they couldn't understand why I had been told to drive the hour and a half over to get it. So, I'm looking on the internet now, and it will cost me a little more, but at least I will have it. And considering the price of gas . . . I might have been better off doing that to start with, LOL! <You're so right> Anyway, that's how I ended up with the sponge and some sun polyps that they said didn't need the light. Attached is a pic of the sponge . Thanks! Cari <Very nice image. Be chatting. Bob Fenner>

Orange sponge I have bought an orange sponge but I need to know how to care for it. What kind of water flow, low moderate or high and light, bright, dim, or moderate light. Thanks Arlus Morrison <Please see the article and FAQ's on wetwebmedia.com, specifically: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/sponges.htm regards, Lorenzo, for Bob>

Identifying Unknown Hey Bob, <Hi there> I'm a big fan of your site!! I have a 20g reef tank that purrs like a kitten, but every now and then things begin to appear in my tank. <I'd leave out the "but"... "new things" will pop out apparently from well set-up, maintained systems> Usually the new growths or inhabitants are exactly what is expected of a reef system, but recently I have a stumper. Can you please take a look at the attached pic and see if you can take a shot? No takers yet! <The purple bit behind the gorgeous encrusting red algae? A sponge (poriferan) colony of some sort... the larger osculae (mouths) are for incurrent water. Bob Fenner> Thanx, Dr Jon Sherman

'Mini' sponge scourge hey bob how's life? I've got a question for you. for about as long as I've had a saltwater tank I've had these little white "sponges" that reproduce like the plague and just coat everything. I remember getting a bit of live rock from a mail order place and saw a little sponge on it. I said, "yay, a sponge. ill help it grow and reproduce....". heh, whoops. just a bit ago I scraped a few off into a capped culture tube to take to my LFS in a vain attempt at an ID. I was shaking it up to get some to separate from a clump and noticed about three or four copepods spill out of its mouth. oh-hohohohoho those sponge bastards..... so now what was a little hassle just became a full on war. ill probably send some to our local zoo (I've got a VIP pass and they take some taxes from the state, that means that they are really public servants... they don't want you to know that though.... ;) ). <Hmm, wonder why not?> anyways am not even going to bother with some lame verbal description in the hopes that you know what it is. do you know some crazy sponge expert or someone who knows a ton about any sponge eating Opisthobranchia or whatnot? <There are such folks... as you say, almost all associated with Colleges, Museums, Zoos and Public Aquariums...> I just got a dragonet the other day and I can see a visual decrease in my copepod population. any help in allowing better breeding conditions for them is a top priority, I've been putting in some live Nanochloropsis, which may or may not be helping the 'sponges'. <Build a fish-free refugium/sump... and attach it to your main system with a small pump/return mechanism> I don't have a R/O filter and the Si in the tap water is abundant. think lowering Si levels could curb the production of spicules? <Maybe... if these are siliceous varieties of Poriferans...> worth a shot, anyways if you can help or refer me to someone who will take a live sample of these babies for an ID would be swell. thanks Jon Trowbridge <Take a read through the "Literature Search" pieces stored on the website: www.WetWebMedia.com and get thee to a large (college) library to do a computer search bibliography through BIOSIS to locate such help that you can drive, mail to for help... If you look in the front/acknowledgement sections of books in the fields, you will see kind thanks lavished on such folks... Bob Fenner>

Blue Sponge hi bob, I had brought blue sponge twice. .but unable to keep them alive for 2 months.. Same apply to my bright orange colour spiky sponge.. As I know is that sponge need strong current to bring food to them, but I do not know how / what to feed them. Q1. Does sponge need to feed in captive ? Q2. Is yes, feed what to them and the frequency ? Q3. How to feed them ? Q4. Does blue sponge require bright light ? thanks, Danny C <All answered on www.WetWebMedia.com Bob Fenner>

In Need Of Sponging Information Hey, Do sponges require a lot of light? I have two 20 watt 20,000k bulbs in my tank which is an all glass aquarium's 55 gallon corner tank. Will this be enough light to house a sponge? Thanks, Jonathan Pac <Hey backatcha. Some species of Sponges do need a great deal of light/lighting (they're photosynthetic), but not all/most... Get your hands on some of the popular marine reference works (Baensch, Fossa & Nilsen... available on the net from FFExpress.com) and read/study... Bob Fenner>

Sponges I recently had a sponge. I just took it out of the tank because it was I believe damaging other animals in the tank. The sponge was acquired about 6 months ago and placed in our tank. It is of the branching form (tree) and is orange in color. The sponge seemed to be doing fine and showed no problems until about a week ago when the tips of the sponge began going white. Since then the fringes of the sponge have gotten progressively whiter and the sponge looks as though it is receding and dying. A few days after the sponge began receding I noticed that the anchor coral we have next to it began to shrink from the sponge. As a result I removed the sponge and now find the coral again fully extended. We have a 75 gallon tank with 4 VHO lights (1 actinic, 2 daylight, 1 50/50). The sponge was placed about 6 inches down the tank in the middle of the tank, near the brightest portion of illumination from the VHO's. We do a 25-30% water change every 2 weeks. I'm wondering if there are nutrients that the sponge has no exhausted and it is thus dying. Or if there is something else I should look for. If it is likely a nutrient issue, is there anything that I really should be supplementing the tank with? We do no supplementing save Kalkwasser once a month or so, having just switched to an aragonite substrate we have cut down on the Kalk dosing. Alex Landman >> Hmm... glad to hear of the alkalinity, calcium supplementation move... and do think the sponge may have needed "something" it wasn't getting... folks who keep these simple life forms for any length of time do work into a feeding regimen (a couple of times a week, washing the system with phytoplankton mainly... while turning off the mechanical filtration for fifteen, twenty minutes... best on a timer). It is just as likely however, that a chemical interaction would account for your observations... Or even an infectious disease that went from chronic to acute in some change, weakening of the sponge... You might have some luck in trimming off the whitened, dying ends... and trying feedings. Bob Fenner

Tree sponges I recently acquired 2 tree sponges ..one of which seems to be doing really fine the other one however, seems to be dying it is turning white in a few different spots I got them both at the same time so I think that the one was sick before I got it. My question is what water additives can I put in the tank that will be beneficial to them both...I think that they are really neat and don't want to lose either one...what can I do....Thanks >> A few things might be done at this point to tilt the balance in favor of your sponges... What do you feed them? Many people are reporting success with sponge filter feeding phytoplankton... you can buy, culture or make suspensions of from other "green" marine foods and squirt in the sponges direction... About twice a week, with mechanical filtration shut down temporarily (about fifteen minutes... best with timers). The "bad" white areas are best cut away with a very sharp scalpel or single edge razor blade (watch your hands!). The use of "mud" or Berlin type filters helps... in improving water quality and producing some live foodstuffs. A dosing with a vitamin/mineral/iodine prep. with water changes is also of value. Some sponges are photosynthetic... are the species you have light-dependent? You can look this up in standard reference works in the hobby. Do you provide sufficient circulation? Many sponges do well only in relatively (for aquariums) brisk-moving water. Bob Fenner

Sponge starvation I have an orange tree sponge that is dying. It seemed fine for several months when we first got it. It is under an arch of live rock and therefore protected from direct light. It is shriveling up and dying, now. What could be wrong with it? The water is and has been fine. >> Very probably this sponge "has been" dying all along... from starvation. This and most species of sponges are filter feeders that, unless a real effort is made to have a system that has quite a bit of (at least periodic) suspended life and other organic material these just-tissue-grade animals can't get enough nutrition. Put another way, most systems, yours included, are just too clean for sponges to stay healthy. What you can/might do? Buy or culture "green water" (Chlorella or other single celled algae species), and flush the animal with the media a few times a week.... while turning off your filters, including the skimmer. If you want to opt to move the sponge instead and effect these feeding baths elsewhere, take care to move the animal underwater (they have real problems with trapped air getting, staying inside them). Much more on the group in a review piece on the Phylum that ran in the Oct. ish of FAMA magazine that I've posted on the wetwebmedia.com website. Bob Fenner

Sponge ill-health I have an orange sponge tree that I have had for around two months that has developed a white substance all over it. It only looked good for about two weeks and then was covered. I have tried to reposition the tree a little but am not sure where to start. We have a 75 gallon tank in which all the fish, mushrooms, polyps and others are doing great. The tank has a BakPak skimmer, an enclosed filter, and two power heads so I think the water movement is plenty. The water is in good shape and we change around 10% one a month. Was hoping you could give me some insight how to make my tree look great again. Thank You, Adam Tromblay >> Adam, it doesn't look good, because it isn't. Your sponge may be on its way out. Generally, the appearance you describe is the beginning of the end, with the rest of the animal dissolving. For safety and its sake, please move the sponge to a separate system, a quarantine or sick tank, and continue water testing and changes as necessary. I have read of some people fighting such necrotic conditions by cutting away bad parts, and treatments with anti-fungals like the sulfa drugs... but not much success in advanced cases sorry to report. Bob Fenner

Bob- In your 9/29 daily Q&A you responded to a question regarding an orange tree sponge in decline. I agree that in most cases this is the beginning of the end. I am in the middle of a sponge experiment that fights the deterioration and am having some success. I have been buying sponges from the LFS that are in varying stages of decline. I have a 72 gal bowfront set up for this experiment. I have mature live sand and rock across the bottom of the tanks. I have two maxi-jet 1000 at each end hooked to a wave maker to supply heavy current. I have been feeding several of the commercially available phytoplankton at a rate of 1 cup every four days. I have 12 sponges in the tank now that were once again at varying stages of decay. These include the orange tree sponge, the orange ball sponge and the bread-crumb sponge. 10 of the sponges have reversed the condition and are healthy and vibrant. The two that didn't were both bread-crumb sponges. I have been using DT's Phytoplankton, the phytoplankton paste available from Brine Shrimp Direct and the freeze dried stuff. Now I plan on testing each one on an individual basis. I started this experiment due to a comment made by Shane Clayton at Exotic Aquarium in Sacramento. I was in there one day when he was unpacking a shipment that included several sponges. He was removing a sponge from a bag that had leaked, and the upper third of the sponge was exposed to the air. I made some off hand remark about the survivability and Shane said that since he started feeding their sponges with DT's he has seen them recover. Well my experiment seems to prove that he is correct. Marc Daniels >> Thank you for your report. How much do you credit the feeding of 1 cup of food every four days to your observed results? And the particular brand, what makes it more valuable? Do you eschew other filtration (other than the sponges) to preserve food availability? Do you consider that the conditions you utilize are applicable to a hobbyist's set-up and management? Bob Fenner

Acclimation of sponges Your book, "The Conscientious Marine Aquarist", has been instrumental (along with a few selected other works) in allowing my wife and I to setup a very rewarding 75 gallon reef aquarium. Having had several months to establish good water quality and carefully develop a good bio-mix (snails, crabs, a blenny or two, peppermint shrimp, a number of the more hardy soft corals, etc.) we would like to add one or two specimens of sponge. My question is this: In your book, and others, it states that the sponge should never be exposed to air. This I understand. But in the same section of your book, when referring to Red Ball Sponges, it states "never add shipping water to your aquarium or quarantine system". Again, this is always the usual practice when introducing a new specimen to a tank. What I cannot figure out is how I can keep the sponge from being exposed to air for even a moment, and at the same time not introducing any of the shipping water into my system. Is there a method that I am not aware of that can meet both of these requirements? Thanks for your guidance on this matter. Hugh Hegedus >> Hugh, thank you for writing. Sorry for the confusion re the transfusion... Basically what is typically done to avoid exposing specimens to the air is a kind of Boris Karl off pouring of new water (from your system) into the shipping or acclimation container with a spill/pour off of now-mixed shipping and system water out to waste. Either a few of these pour ins/outs or some variation of a drip (in of new/system water) and spill/pour out (of mixed water) over a period of several minutes... and you're done. Now if you can produce that blood-curdling laugh and grimace while you're at it you'll have conquered two genres at once! Have attached a piece on Sponges, from an upcoming tome ("The Best Livestock For Your Reef Aquarium") for your perusal. Bob Fenner

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