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FAQs on Sponge Compatibility/Control

Related Articles: Sponges in Marine Aquariums

Related FAQs: Sponges 1, Sponges 2, Sponges 3, Sponge Identification, Sponge Selection, Sponge Systems, Sponge Feeding, Sponge Disease, Sponge Reproduction,

Sponge Allelopathy     6/8/16
Dear Bob & Crew,
Just a brief question today on sponges. I have a good amount of yellow encrusting sponge which is common on good quality live rock. I'm not sure of the species, but it is quite easy to take care of even grows. In addition, I have purchased a red photosynthetic plating sponge (Collospongia sp.) from live aquaria.
<Ah yes; they've cultured this for the ornamental trade for years>
I was just curious if you have any information on how toxic these and other sponges are. I have read much (great info. in Reef Invertebrates!!)
but have not found a lot in regards to allelopathic compounds.
Thanks so much! Joe
<Well; the fact that the first "yellow encrusting" material has not caused you apparent trouble, and the Collospongia sp. from Dr. Foster's... being cultured; bode well for they not being very/overtly toxic. There are species of Poriferans that present real troubles for aquarists, even divers! I would not be concerned re the varieties you have. As long as they
continue to thrive I doubt they will cause your other livestock woe.
Bob Fenner>

Trumpet Coral Problem     10/1/15
Dear Wet Web Media,
I am having a massive loss of yellow trumpet coral and looking for ideas as to why.
<Will give you the principal sources: predation, environment (ho boy), lack of nutrition, allelopathy...
All other fish (6 small), various hermit crabs, snails, starfish, anemones (5 keep splitting)
<Mmm; near by?>
and corals
<See you've listed these below; good>
are acting normally.
165 gallon
4 years old system

Aqua C EV skimmer/LEDs/co2 reactor/refugium/wave maker
SG 1.025, 79-81.5 F temp, Alk 10-12, Calcium 435, magnesium 1340, 0 nitrates, 0 phosphates,
<Ooops! Here's at least part of the "issue"; a lack of N, P, K.... READ here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FavNutrDisF.htm>
20% water changes weekly
<And you dose iodide/ate then?>
The tank has few SPS (birds nest, much monopora), many LPS (frogspawn, plate, chalice, brain), and 2 large soft corals (toadstool leather and Sinularia), a couple mushrooms, Ricordeas and some Zoanthids.
<Again; allelopathy is a concern here as well... some of the more chemically aggressive organisms you have can/do poison other Cnidarians distally at times; esp. ones that are otherwise compromised (starving in this case)>
No new corals have been added, all have been thriving. I do have a bright yellow encrusting sponge that I am trying to keep under control.
<This might be a contributor as well>
The trumpet corals have been growing like crazy. I started out with 2 heads eight years ago and now have 300+ and have traded away 100+.
<Ah, good>
Anyhow, I was gone on vacation (1 week) and think the tank care giver was feeding too much. (pellets and rinsed frozen food) Upon my return phosphates were too high, so immediately I did water changes and added PhosBan media to an extra media reactor I had in my LifeReef sump.
Phosphates were 0 in a few days.
<.... all chemo-photosynthetic life needs measurable soluble HPO4>
Soon after, I lost 2 trumpets
(tissue recessed from bottom until dead in few days). I assumed it was a freak out from phosphate elevated.
<Actually; the opposite>
Well, it's been a month and now the trumpet loss is epidemic, as I have 25% of the trumpet heads dead or in recession. I have continued to care for the tank as usual, testing is fine and good water changes. I see no critters on any corals.
What else can I do?
<The I2 mostly; multiple dosed; as you'll find in your reading; removal of the chemical filtrants...>
I am not even sure the loss is due to a fluctuation in phosphate...?
Should I remove all dead heads and recessing heads or wait it out?
<I'd leave all in place>
Should I do a lugos dip on all trumpets colonies?
<Better to add to the system itself>
What other tests can I do?
<How much time do you have to read?>
Why would only the trumpets (which are spread all over the tank, up and down and middle) be receding and dying?
<They're on the "losing" side of allelopathogenic "strength" here, and more susceptible to nutrient deficiency>
Thanks so much! Really, thank you very much for your advice.
<Cheers, Bob Fenner>

Re Trumpet Coral Problem, caused by Yellow Encrusting Sponge?        10/6/15
Hi Bob,
Thank you for your opinion on why my trumpet corals are recessing.
Here is some more info:
The anemones are not near the trumpets.
I do add iodide.
I target feed the trumpets and feel they are getting plenty of nutrients or else they would not be multiplying so fast prior to this mass recession.
(2 to 400 heads in 8 years)
The refugium is full of macro algae and I battle hair algae in the overflows.
Allelopathy could be part of the problem.
My latest thought is in relation to the Jaspis serpentina sponge which is slowly taking over my tank. A few weeks ago, I was scraping it off the back glass and trying to dig it away from taking over some Zoanthids and birds nests. Would the small sponge particles within the water column cause the trumpets to die off?
<Yes; could>
Would you recommend removing rocks that have this encrusting yellow sponge on it?
<Yes I would... rinse, chip off; possibly bleach... but at least allow to air dry for a week or more before re-using>

There is a LOT of yellow sponge in my tank. What does happy yellow sponge indicate about the tank?
<Propitious circumstances; at least for it. BobF>
Thank you,

White sponge like thing growing in my saltwater tank; using WWM      5/28/15
Hello there,
I have a problem with my 15 gallon saltwater reef tank, it seems to be I have a white sponge looking thing growing on the side of the rock. This area where the "stuff" is growing, has barely any light because its in the back corner. I have tried to research it but people had many different opinions about it. I want to know if this "stuff" is a friend or a foe? Thank you
<See WWM re... rarely are "locally grown" aquarium sponges problematical...
Sponge Compatibility FAQs....
Bob Fenner>

Sponge     2/25/15
Hi there, I got this sponge growing in my reef tank for over a year now.
<A beauty!>
Its more of a sky blue then the iPhone pic shows. I was told it was toxic and could wipe out my system if it died. Is this true? Should I remove it?
<Mmm; it might be toxic; but IF it were my system; and was stable (which evidently yours is if it's been in there a year), and of size (a hundred gallons or more); had good maintenance; I would keep it. How to put this: Ours is not a zero sum universe: there are always risks... some too great, some not worth "it"... I'd keep, enjoy this Poriferan. Bob Fenner>

Re: Sponge      2/26/15
Thank you!!! It came on a mushroom rock from LiveAquaria.
<Ahh! An excellent source of livestock... their suppliers in turn... "A" players>
It was so small I did not know it was there. I love it and it's a color u don't see too often. Happy diving
<And you! BobF>

Sponge Trouble (with Stony Corals), moved from FB      12/10/14
Morning Bob! I was wondering if I could pick your brain about chemical warfare and corals.
I'm presently contending with a scenario where water parameters are spot on and stable yet Euphyllia that once thrived are
now receding at a rapid rate. Upon removal the bases of 90% of the colonies were found to be encrusted with numerous sponges.
Sponge tissue was scrubbed off and colonies were given an iodine dip. Now how to contend with the remaining sponges that
have set up shop amongst the rock? Possible that the sponges are part of the problem here? Am I losing my mind? Thanks Bob!
Jon Tarutis
House of Fins, a few seconds ago
Oh! Jon; pls send all petfish related mat. to me via Crew@WetWebMedia.comJust cut/paste this. Ah yes; but/and do def. know of the troubles w/ Euphylliids (and other stonies) and sponges (underneath). NEED to removed the colonies and moved elsewhere.
Am cc'ing a friend (Cam Bee out working w/ Walt Smith in FJ and ChrisT who used to, who both have extraordinary olfaction, can/do smell the sponges... and reject specimens collected w/ them. Hopeful they will share input w/ you here re.
Re: Sponges; ongoing re toxicity to Scler.      12/12/14
Thank you Bob! I did get your response via FB. My interest is piqued on this as the tank's owner has always run a very "natural" system... Algae turf scrubber in the 90's and now a refugium for nutrient export...
<Mmm; have had quite a few conversations re these scrubbers... w/ Morgan Lidster, Randy Goodlett, others before them. I would run a good deal of GAC on a punctuated basis... every week or so adding some let's say>
No skimmer just micron socks and carbon.
The rock in the system dates back to some time in the early 90's, collected in the keys.    
<I would definitely be adding/switching some of the LR out every six months or so... biomass/diversity and solubility issues.
Maybe take a read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/SubstReplF4.htm
applies to substrates of all types>
Delving more into this sponge interaction has gotten me wondering if the sponges sometimes play a role in the "old tank syndrome"...
<I would not be the least surprised>
Btw... Is there any particular genus that out competes stony corals more so than others?
<Genus... of Poriferans? Oh yes... the "boring" (not yawning, but burrowing) genera in particular>
Thanks again Bob!
<Welcome Jon>

Strange things in my aquarium      3/30/14
I want start off by saying hi to Bob. we had the privilege of meeting him at the frag expo in Columbia sc a year and a half ago.
<Howsit Ray?>
We have a 30 gallon saltwater tank. We only have fish in the tank. We have a large dead dried and bleached coral in the tank and some rock that two was dried. The tank has been up for two years. We even have a uv sterilizer running. All of a sudden we have an outbreak of these little things that to me look like a cross between a small cotton ball and a tubeworm. They are smaller than the cotton on a q-tip. But they seen to attach to everything including the glass.
What are they? How do we get rid of them without harming the fish?
<Can't make them out here... but see you've sent another pic... B>
Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to hearing from you.
Strange thing in tank pix
More pix
Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to hearing from you.
<My best guess is some sort of sponge/Poriferan... Do you have a microscope? BobF>

re: Strange thing in tank pix      3/30/14
No microscope. What should I try to get rid of em?
<Nutrient deprivation mostly... perhaps siphoning out a bit of the biomass every time you're doing water changes... Encouraging other, competitive life forms>
Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to hearing from you.
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Zoanthids exposure to air; sponge control    8/12/13
I have an opaque jelly like substance growing or the rock structure around my Zoanthids.  I have been told that it is a natural sponge and to get rid of it I should expose the rock and inhabitants to the air.  This will kill the sponge and not harm the Zoas.  HELP, please!!!
<Mmm, I don't think this exposure will work; and I want to super reemphasize that you should take extreme care when handling Zoanthids...
I'd likely simply ignore the sponge... it may well recede on its own (happens all the time). IF you are interested in moving/removing the sponge. I would read the compatibility FAQs on WWM re... Bob Fenner>
C. Anderson

Orange Tree Sponge Coincidence?  11/18/12
Hi WMM Crew,
Many thanks in advance for your help.  It's been a while since I had to send an inquiry, but that's only because everything has been going so well. 
Last we spoke about 8 months ago I was battling ick in my 270 reef, but after some corrective maneuvers, we've been ick free for the last 8 months (at least as far as I can tell, and I probably stare at the tank for a few hours every day!)
  I'm working on a second tank for butterflies and angel(s) so I can close the gaps on the fish that I can't accommodate in my reef. but alas, that's not why I'm pinging you.  About three weeks ago my LFS got an amazing orange tree sponge (Ptilocaulis sp.).  I had them hold it for me for a week to make sure that it didn't suffer mishandling/stress,
 then I took it home.
I already had a small orange tree sponge that I got a few years ago and has been growing (very slowly) and doing well.  Both the LFS and I handled the sponge properly, no air contact at all.  After a few days, I noticed some parts got a bit lighter, and it looked like it was shedding towards the top but just a bit.  My Acanthurus pyroferus even plucks at it-but not as to eat it like an angel would, more like some faithful housekeeping.  After being in my tank about 4 days with only some minor shedding, and no major bleaching, one of my 4 clams, a squamosa clam which I've had for a year and a half, receded into its shell and died.
<Oh oh>
 The sponge was a few feet from the clam (which wasn't touching any other corals,
<Doesn't have to touch to mal-affect chemically>
 nor was any tankmates picking on it, everything was intact), and I have other clams that seem just fine.
I haven't noticed any other issues in the tank, I have plenty of SPS/LPS, a few anemones
<Yikes... can be real trouble mixing>
-everyone else seems fine.  Nothing else has changed in the tank, the levels are all spot on.  Do you think that this sponge could be at fault?
<Could but not necessarily>
 It's been a few more days and no bleaching, and the shedding appears to have stopped.   I poked around both on WMM and on the internet, and since this is a common sponge, I don't think it would be toxic to the tank like some other species, but wasn't certain. 
<All are to degrees... this one not so much; some others... tremendously>
Especially since everything had been so good with the clam for so long, for it to up and croak seemed very suspicious.  Just wanted to ping you guys in case if you have any other input or ideas.
<As you state, as there are other Tridacnids there, sensitive Cnidarians, I'd chalk this loss up to "mysterious anomaly" and move forward. Leave all in place>
Thanks much as always for your guidance!  Hope this might help others as well!
<Ah yes. Thank you, Bob Fenner>
Re: Orange Tree Sponge Coincidence?    11/19/12

Thanks Bob!  Greatly appreciate the responses and guidance as always!
Will continue to monitor the situation.  I definitely agree that they don't need to make contact to have an impact, but that direct contact is a definitely culprit when it does happen!
<Definitely can be>
  Just want to make sure that I am doing everything I can to be respectful of these truly majestic and beautiful creatures!  Will keep you guys posted (maybe with a pic too next time!)  Really excited to embark on the non-reef safe tank too, starting my due diligence with quarantine already with a 55 gallon to make sure everyone is in top shape before introducing them to the new system.  No desire to go through another ick/marine velvet battle again, particularly in the DT!
<Ah yes>
 It's a lot easier though to be patient when you have a full setup already though, that's for sure!  Hope you and the crew have a great thanksgiving holiday!
Best Regards,
<And you my friend in fish. Bob Fenner>

Hitchhiker ID      10/19/12
The attached photo shows one of my corals with some kind of critter (white  just to the lower right of it. It appears to be wrapping an arm around it.
<Ah yes, some sort of encrusting sponge>
There are several more of these arm-like structures on some of the rocks below this coral. My uneducated guess would be some type of sponge. All of these appeared in my tank a couple of weeks ago and seem to be slowly spreading out. Can you identify it, and more importantly, can you tell me if it is an organism that may damage other life in the tank (particularly corals)?
<Mmm, if displacing your other sessile animals... could be trouble... perhaps enough to consider fragging, moving the wanted colonies, scrubbing, denuding (and possibly drying) the rock/s with unwanted sponge on them>
 This is a 120 gallon reef tank set up with 200 pounds of live rock
<Oh! Then you have time... the sponges may come/go in the meanwhile... Limiting nutrient levels (NO3, HPO4...) in the water (rinsing frozen/defrosted foods etc.) may greatly slow their spread>
 about 8 months ago with several corals, fish, and invertebrates. Thanks in advance for any assistance.
Dan Moen
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Sponge comp.       6/25/12
Hello Crew,
You gals and guys are fabulous! Quick question for you. My reef tank has recently had an explosion of growth of yellowish green sponges on the live rock. Most of the rock is 2 or more years old. The tank was moved to a sunnier location seven months ago. Some of the sponges are close to my corals. In the attached photo, one is visible and one is growing under the coral. Is there any cause of concern for damage, etc. to the coral? Thanks for your help,
<Mmm, I don't think much cause for concern here... the Corallimorph shown in close proximity appears to be doing fine. I'd leave all as is. Bob Fenner>

Re spg comp.       6/25/12
Thanks for the fast reply on my sponge question. Here is a photo of the one growing underneath it.
<Umm, too blurry>
 These are the ones I am most concerned about. It is shaped like a ball and yellowish green. I apologize for not including this photo. Thanks for your help.
<Welcome. BobF> 

Tunicates? Sponges?  Invasion     6/1/12
<Hello Larry>
These started showing up weeks ago in the 20g sump (return section only) of a 65g DT that is currently fish and inverts.
More recently, as per the 2 DT photos, they have begun implanting themselves in the rock first having attached to the glass (in a similar fashion as shown in the sump photos).
I thought they might have been sponges, but they do not grow any larger in size - roughly from 2mm up to about 5-7mm in size.
I'm concerned because they are spreading and I have no clue how to stop their growth.
Can you please help ID them?
<Syconoid sponges. Harmless filter feeders usually found in low light and high flow areas. Numbers are controlled by available food and there population will rise and fall accordingly. They will not grow larger than what you see now.>
<Quite welcome>

Re: Tunicates? Sponges?  Invasion 6/1/12
Thanks, Jordan.  Very helpful, but don't these guys compete for food with more beneficial life, e.g., copepods, amphipods, including coral (should I add any)?
<The amount of nutrients these consume is truly insignificant. They are harmless in every sense of the word.>

To<o> Much Live sponge?    3/27/12
Thank you for your devoted time and effort. I have tried to find some info in regards to live sponges in a reef aquarium. I looked through your sponge selection and found nothing in regards to if there is a problem in having to much sponge in a reef tank.
<Indeed, it can be... some types (species) of Poriferans are quite toxic...
Though the vast majority are innocuous to benign>
 A friend of mine told me that to much live sponge may tank to much nutrience from the water that is need for the corals.
<Another possibility, yes>
All the live sponge I have has occurred naturally.
<A good sign, indication of overall health in this system>
I have not introduced any live sponge into my aquarium on purpose, but, my aquarium has become a hotel for live sponge. I have 4 different types of sponge (that I can see) and they range in size from baseball size to  8" to 10". One very dark green sponge that encrusted a large rock that I didn't know was a sponge until it turned a bright yellow. That was one of the most amazing transformations I have ever seen in my tank.  But I am worried that to much live sponge may be just a little to much for my 75 gallon with a 40 refugium
system. Thanks
<IF a concern, as demonstrated/revealed by negative impact on your "corals", other livestock, I would remove some of the sponge material here.
The rock it's attached to should be taken out, the sponge removed, cut away, abraded, and that rock left out of the system (but in water) for a few weeks. Excess sponge/material may well be sale-able to/through your local stores. Bob Fenner>

sponge on Zoa colony? 1/27/12
Hi, I found this white sponge looking specimen on my Zoa colony. I was wondering if anybody could ID it and if it was harmful to my Zoas and anything in the tank?
<Mmm, have seen and photographed this variety/species a few times, but can't find on WWM: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/spongesii.htm
and the linked files above. Doesn't appear to be mal-affecting your Zoanthids of other near-life. I would leave and enjoy>
Thank You,
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Red (or Orange!) Ball Sponge Bleaching (Neighboring Aggressions) -- 11/11/11
Greetings WWM crew,
Eric here,
<<Here too!>>
with a question about an orange ball sponge:
The specimen is about 2" round, and had been doing well for about 2 months - very inflated with a few open 'mouths' and bright, uniform coloration.
The other day I noticed that it looked a bit deflated resulting in more ridges on the sponge's surface, and the newly developed 'valleys' seem to be bleaching/turning white.
<<Uh oh>>
It looks like I'd imagine it would if it had been removed from the water and exposed to air, but it's been fully submerged
<<At least for the time period you are aware'¦>>
since I added it to the tank (in the trip from the store to my tank it was never exposed).
<<Don't doubt that 'but who's to say how the organism was handled (or mishandled) prior to you acquiring it. Though I would think such damage would express itself sooner>>
All the water parameters are great and all other livestock is thriving. The only thing I can think of is that the sponge in question is somewhat sheltered
<<A clue maybe>>
and often comes in contact with a nearby bubble coral (on the left side of the tank in the attached picture);
<<Yikes! I think you may have your answer. Do be aware that pretty much 'every' organism on the reef fights for/perceives others as a threat to space/food/et al. And looking at the photo, the sponge in question's neighbor is not happy it is there (note the sweepers)>>
however, the flow is still fairly good, and I suspension feed with a variety of liquid foods 4 x per week with filters off for about 45 minutes (I keep a variety of other sponges which appear healthy, so I'm not sure why this one would be starving).
<<Indeed'¦ The photo does indicate some difficult-to-keep specimens (kudos to you)>>
Any thoughts on what could be affecting this specimen?
<<Mishandling 'prior' to acquisition is always a possibility, but I think the immediate issue here is placement 'find a better (i.e. - more hospitable) spot on your reef for this sponge>>
Thanks much for your always invaluable insights,
<<Always happy to share'¦ Eric Russell>>
Addendum...Red (or Orange!) Ball Sponge Bleaching (Neighboring Aggressions) -- 11/11/11

Sorry, the sponge is orange.
<<I did make note>>
I'm not sure why I labeled it as red.
<<No worries>>
And I forgot to attach the picture so here it is.
<<Thank you for this>>
Thanks again.
<<Welcome again... EricR>>

Pesky Sponge 7/1/11
Love the site, best on-line reference I have found. I spend hours scrolling and scrolling . . . :-) System: 2 55 gallon frag tanks with 40 gallon sump Led's over one, 2 150 MH 20K over the other, sump lit at night.
Protein skimmer vertex 180 Water chemistry is ideal; been very lucky there I have a sponge that is driving me nuts. It prefers the underside of rocks and frags,
<As most do>
and no matter how much I scrub frags, pop off frags and replace plugs, or cover it with Kalkwasser paste, it will always come back. From reading your site I see that they are most likely beneficial to the system as a whole, but the growth rate is just scary-fast. In addition, I like to trade frags with my reef buddies, but since this stinkin' sponge appeared, I just can't risk infecting somebody else with this plague. Any suggestions as to how to rid myself of these?
<Mmm, removal of the rocks involved... scrubbing, letting air dry...>
It's confined to just two 55 gallon frag tanks tied into 40 gallon sump, but it's only a matter of time until I'm careless with washing my hands after being in there and spread it to the 'big tank' in the living room.
I'm about at the point of tearing the whole system apart and starting from scratch, I'm really losing it here. Darlin', I'm desperate Tammy Alabama
<It does read as if you might be ready to do the total tear down... Take all in stride... Bob Fenner>

Blue Photo Sponge, Collospongia auris, incomp. 5/6/11
Dear WW Team,
I am interested in the Blue Photo Sponge, Collospongia auris. I am finding little information about it.
<I see the usual anecdotal accounts (petfish hobbyist) dotting the Net... not much science>
There are mentions if it possibly growing into a nuisance piece, and some information praising it as a Red Slime Algae Cyanobacteria, Blue/Green algae fighter. Do you have any details on this?
<Unfortunately no; my only reliable in-print ref. is MCRA/Fossa & Nilsen... Most Europeans and Asian hobbyists consider it a pest. Does have competing BGA endosymbionts... requires bright light...>
It is quite nice looking, but I am not sure of its suitability in an reef tank.
<Where it "occurs" in such, it often does quite well. Like all pests, best to keep it confined, limited to its own rock>
Thanks for all help you give people!
<IF only I could afford BIOSIS, Zoological Abstracts... on line; or this was a day I was off to the SIO library, could likely tell you more with confidence.
Cheers, Bob Fenner>

Sponge ID, incomp. 12/2/09
Hi WWM Crew,
Thanks in advance for your time and dedication sharing your knowledge and wisdom (again).
<Given our background, passion, compassion, other make-up, this is a most-natural course>
My 150G mixed tank has been running for about 2 years now. When first set up I added about 50KG of new (matured) live rock to about the same from my previous smaller tank).
As usual I looked in wonder at the "Free" life that hitched a ride on this rock and was very pleased to see some of this grow into established colonies in my now mature tank.
The pics below are what I believe to be a sponge that over the last 2 years has grown from a tiny speck to approaching 12" across. It is white at the base but dark brown all over the rest due to possible algae growth ? (but
it has always looked like this even when very small)
I have noticed that some of the zooids have migrated away (or died back) from this (but not completely, as evident in the photo).
<I see>
The reason for my mail, is that for the first time I had need to move some rocks recently (actually adding a little more) when my hand brushed against
this sponge. I was very surprised to find it was not the lovely smooth velvety texture I imagined but covered in tiny hooks and barbs that seemed to stick into my skin and certainly bloody stung !
<Many sponges are indeed not what they appear... Some are very toxic to touch, others are dangerously noxious chemically to their tankmates. It should be obvious to folks looking at their behavior, dominance in many reef situations that these early forms of life have "mechanisms" for securing space, competing...>
I'm now concerned that this may not be the harmless free addition I first though it was and would appreciate your thoughts ?
Thanks again for your help
Steve Burkinheath
<Mmm, I can't place the genus even here, but I've encountered something like this in aquariums before. If it were me, mine, I'd really consider taking out the rock all this sponge is on... and with gloves and a few sharp tools, knives at the ready, excising it from the rock... and yes, toss it. I am more concerned with the long/er term issues of toxicity here, even your health, than the value of this Poriferan as an ornamental. I am sorry if I'm being too blunt, perhaps appear callous here, but like grading school papers, I adhere to a "if in doubt, count it out" rule where potentially toxic life is concerned. I have found it pays to shy on the side of conservatism in such matters.
Bob Fenner>

Growth on Rocks 9/16/09
I have a greenish encrusting substance growing and spreading on my rocks.
<I see this...>
It was recommended that a pencil urchin be introduced to eliminate it.
<Nah... not an algae; even if so, not all are palatable...>
The urchin has been in the tank for 2 months and will not touch it. I have a 180 gallon mixed reef with a remote sump, total system is estimated at 200 gallons. The tank has been running for 3 years. It's lightly stocked with 2 tangs, royal Gramma, six line wrasse, 2 clowns, mandarin. Tangs are the largest but no fish is over 3 inches. I cannot take the rock out of the tank as it is too large and is the base for the upper rocks. I can peel this off the rocks but cannot get all of it. Picture is attached. Please identify this for me and recommend a treatment, as it is spreading out of control and suffocating my corals.
Thanks in advance
R DeNoia
<Is almost assuredly a type/species of Sponge/Poriferan... Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/spongecompfaqs.htm
re Control, and the linked files above for more. The presence, growth of this life is evidence of your good care, stability here. Bob Fenner>

Re: Growth on Rocks 9/22/09
I've looked through the FAQ you suggested but cannot find the info I'm looking for. Do you have any other recommendations or ideas about what this is and how to get rid of it. I realize it's a sponge but what would
eradicate it from my tank as it's spreading out of control. Thanks again.
<Is a green encrusting sponge... To eradicate will require removing all the rock it's attached to, breaking most off with your fingers, scrubbing with a fine brush, letting the rock dry out. BobF>

Few questions I need to ask you. Mmm, coralline hlth., allelo twixt spg., Alcy... 3/18/09
Hello Wet Web Crew!!!
Hello, to whom ever I may have the pleasure of speaking with! I haven't written in a while, but I've come across a few things going on weird in my tank. 135gal/tidepool II sump/fuge. Ok now to the weird stuff. All my parameters are spot on,(I calibrate my test eq regularly). I replaced pc & t6 bulbs about 3 months ago. I had coralline growing very nicely on the back wall, then all of a sudden, one day I noticed it was going away and what is left is either turning white or black,
<Not atypical with (just) a change in lighting... Reds/Rhodophytes,
including corallines are favored with lower intensity....>
My standpipes used to be covered in coralline and now they've got a lot of black and very dark green splotches on them. Look almost like that black mold that you get in walls, except this is in my tank.
<Mmm, yes... shows the succession of greens (and BGA likely) where there were corallines>
My toadstool has not been right since I moved it from my old 55 to my 135.
It's polyps don't come out like they used to and the plate part of it never extends further than stem. There is some kind of sponge that is coming out from under the Toadstool and I'm wondering if that's causing it's demise?
<Perhaps... could also be adjusting to the new lighting>
http://s202.photobucket.com/albums/aa50/cuttingras/135%20tank/?action=view&current=DSC_3514-1.jpg I've got better pics of it, just can't find them right now. I'll keep looking.
<Mmm... I would move (scrape) this sponge from the Toadstool base, or alternatively (though not as desirable), cut away and move the toadstool from the sponge here>
I used the same lighting system on my 55 as on the 135, just rearranged them in a hood, then added the new bulbs. I have placed the ones in question to levels that seem
<Here's the operative word... Mmm, using a PAR meter might enlighten one here>
comparable with how much light/flow they need. My finger leather was beautiful and growing great in the 55, about the size of a baseball. I put it in the 135 and it shrinks to maybe the size of a good wad of gum.
<Yikes... could be other factors at play though...>
I have frogspawn, 2 torch's, Gorgonia, Pavona coral, pom pom xenia, hairy Shrooms, one FLA Ric and the coral I got last summer from a fragging demo Anthony did., It's doing ok. http://s202.photobucket.com/albums/aa50/cuttingras/135%20tank/?action=vie
<Uhh, likely the above stony corals, Xeniid, Corallimorphs... Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/cnidcompppt.htm
and the linked files above...>
Anyway, I know this is a lot of info, so I'm not going to be too needy. I know you guys are all busy so get to it as you can. Thanks and have a great day!!!! Thank YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Linda from Louisville, GA or cuttingras on 3reef.com
<Mmm... read on my friend, read on. Bob Fenner>

Sponge question 01/23/09 Does the presence of sponges indicate good water chemistry? <They don't necessarily indicate anything. They might indicate that your water is at least "livable" for sponges... but it might also indicate that you have plenty of spare nutrients to support them.> I've got quite a population of small whites ones that have been growing in colonies, even in my refugium and syphon overflow! <Congrats, sponges are fun. But they can clog up siphons and such... so you might want to scrub them out from time to time if they get too dense.> Thanks Pat <De nada, Sara M.>

Sponges, ID, control 9/29/08 <Hi Wesley, Mich with you today.> My aquarium is being over run with stringy white and black organisms I think they are sponges. <A picture, even a blurry one, would be helpful.> Is there anything that can be safely added to remove or eat them. <There are creatures that eat sponges, but they are typically obligate sponge eaters, so they are not suitable for long term captive care. The better route here would be improved husbandry. If what you have is sponges, they are likely flourishing due to high nutrients in the water. Larger and more frequent water changes would likely limit their proliferation. More here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/scottsh2ochgart.htm  http://www.wetwebmedia.com/watchgantart.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/water.htm  http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/maintenance/marineMaint.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/nutrientcontrol.htm  > Wesley T Stokes @ Yahoo <Cheers, Mich>

I need a natural predator, Sponge, reading - 5/3/08 Hello, From searching your site I think the sponge I have growing (everywhere) is h. vetulina. <... what's the H. stand for?> Not sure, if you another ID that would be great! Anyway, how can I control this beast? I'm losing Corals to this sponge! <Yikes... "you got to keep them separated"... partitioned, blank areas twixt rock...> Do you know of any predators? Maybe an Angel fish of some type? It's a mauve/purplish color, pretty thick and rubbery. My water parameters are perfect, I have a 15 gal. per week top off. Thanks for your help! Darlene <Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/spongecompfaqs.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Re: I need a natural predator, sponge contr. 5/5/08Thank you for the quick response the h. was for Haliclona. Regardless of what it is, I can't keep it separated without killing off my corals. It just keeps growing on the rocks and snuffing out the corals. Is there any predator that you know of? Thank you. <Mmm, no, none specifically. You need to keep the sponge isolated... with a break in rocks... Take out the ones you don't want it on and scrub them thoroughly. Bob Fenner>

Clathrina, spg. contr. -01/29/2008 can anyone tell me what eats or what I can do to get rid of this Leather Latticework Sponge as it is becoming a problem in my reef tank, it has spread on to my Tubastrea and killed two heads, I have tried cleaning it of with a soft toothbrush which does the job to an extent but it soon returns, I cant move my Tubastrea as it is stuck fast with Aquascape. <Hmmm... any way you can lower the water level to expose the sponge to air for an hour or so? This might help. Also, you might try a change in water flow to the area (more or less, either might change the "balance of power" here).> Looking forward to hearing from you, Glen. <Good luck, Sara M.>

Problem with recent outbreak of Syconoid and need help with my puffer, Please 1/10/08 Hi and thank you for being there! I spent Sunday afternoon reading your site as I have done many, many times over the past years but couldn't really find an answer... There is so much info for new folks but where do we with the established aquarium go? I need some serious help! <I do wish... that the world itself, or at least the tiny bit that is WWM could be/was more "intuitive"... have tried to think of ways to improve accessibility, arrangement... but the indices, Google search tool thus far are the best I/we have... Would you/others rather some sort of Boolean tool with exclusion/inclusionary possibilities with terms like "established, marine, aquarium"... bringing up whatever included such chronologically mostly I guess?> In brief: My aquarium is a 150 gallon FOWLR and is six+ years old. The inhabitants are my original 6 year old dog- face puffer, original 6 year Foxface ( I truly love this gentle fish), a 3 year old hippo tang and a 3 year old Picasso trigger. I have the original Euro-reef protein skimmer ( model ES8-2). A small sump that holds maybe 15 -18 gallons of water. I have bio balls , 1/2 removed several years ago. I use Boyd's Chemi-pure ( 1/4 the recommended amount and rinse it 2 x week , change it monthly. My puffer and Picasso trigger share ( well kinda share) one mussel every am and 2-3 dime size algae wafers in pm. My fox face and hippo eat formula 2 (about a quarters worth) 2 times a day. Everyone is always starving! My ph hovers around 8.0 sometimes 7.8 ( my puffer always looks stressed when ph drops to 7.8 so I do my best to keep at least 8.0. My nitrates are sky high at about 80. They have been for years , I've tried nitrate sponges , more live rock, less food , more water changes etc over the years and finally decided after a month of daily water changes and readings still in 40's that if I were to cont' with this huge investment and love, I would just have to accept the readings and possible illnesses/ deaths that might result.( My sump is too small to add light and plants as EuroReef takes up all available room.) <Well stated, and done> About 2 years ago when my puffer was 4 , I really realized this was going to be one big fish! I was dealing with huge amounts of puffer detritus. (puffer poop). I mean he left gooey puddles in his favorite corner . Also his space for swimming (which he loved to do) was limited. I know this is incorrect but I removed about 1/3 of the sand bed on the side where he sleeps and always poops.( leaving bare glass). I took out lots of the live rock ( like 50%) so he could happily swim side to side and up and down. I left the middle third of the aquarium with about 1/2 inch of sand, and large pile of live rock, the last 1/3 with 2 inches of sandbed because he loves to blow through and root for food and sea creatures. The ph held at 8.0 with 5 gallon water changes every other day. I chose 5 gallons because I can do them in about 10 minutes without turning off the pump system ( other than the skimmer). I buy my salt water from a LFS several miles away as my townhouse doesn't allow for R/O, water wastage etc. Any way, 2 questions. My puffer has always swam with a blue neon goby. They live about 2 years , clean his surface skin frequently. I have read that puffers have sensitive skin and you should not let cleaner fish do this to them , but I have to tell you, it has always been amazing to watch. My last one even went completely inside Puffers gill. Puffer" taught " him to be gentle. It has been an amazing thing for me to watch. My neon died 6 months ago. I found him lying in sand. No one tried to eat him, and I was amazed by that. Anyway, I have no longer been able to buy these gobies. Do you know why they are no longer available? ( I live near San Francisco). I even tried Marine Depot. <Are a bit of a seasonal item (Gobiosoma, Elacatinus spp.)... the captive-produced ones had some real trouble with supply... with the largest producers basically getting blown off the planet by the hurricane series a few years back...> My puffers health seems to be declining. Quarter size pieces of his film float off occasionally. Each piece will have one little salt grain size of ich on it. Can you suggest a cleaner fish that will not be too aggressive for my puffer? <Really only the little gobies... but I do have another suggestion. See below> I am not really afraid of anyone eating small fish, there seems to be fish Language spoke in this aquarium, I swear! <Yes... this "arrangement" has been remarked on many times in the literature... Purposeful cleaners... even from disparate geographies... being "recognized" by otherwise predatory fishes... calming them, doing them a great deal of good... Sort of like Androcles and the Lion (man, I am dating myself)> My other concern , I started adding Kent's Zoecon to their food about 3 months ago. I admit I was not careful and let 3-4 drops fall on food frequently instead of the recommended 1drop. <Mmm, no worries> After several months I seem to have a proliferation of Sponges all over my live rock. I have seen my puffer and trigger try to eat the ones they can access but they are everywhere. I even see them growing in the water intake lines. I am afraid they will get massive and clog my system.( Actually they already are huge ) I read on your site my high organics , mussel juices, etc are causing this plaque.( a little Omega 3 and they were off!) <Ahh!> I also have never seen such large bristle worms till I started this lipid. (have always been very small - like 1/10th of any inch. The other day I had 2 an inch long! I have tried to clean puffers poop but it won't vacuum and sticks to net. Ugh.. <I have the same suggestion...> I have stopped Zoecon, Are there nitrate sponges that work? <Mmm, not worthwhile IMO... better to employ other means... Please read here re options: http://wetwebmedia.com/marine/maintenance/index.htm scroll down to the yellow line/tray> Why can't I find Neons? <Keep looking... should be around... Maybe the Marine Center (.com), Dr.s Foster and Smith (.com)> How can I eradicate sponges in the drain system? <Depriving them of food is best> I understand you may not want to answer this as it is so long <Heeeee! No my friend... not a factor> but any help would truly be appreciated. I feel I have always taken care of my pals and until recently they have flourished. My personal goal is to get my puffer to 10 years. Thanks again Leslie <A worthy goal. To reduce waste presence, boost your puffers health in toto, I strongly suggest your going to using Spectrum pelleted food... this will indeed "do it"... Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/foodsppt1.htm For a ppt presentation of the main ideas here. Cheers, Bob Fenner>

Yellow Sponge Question? - 5/4/07 Hello, <Hi there! Mich here.> How are ya? <I'm mighty fine, yourself?> I discovered a bright canary yellow sponge growing across 2 large pieces of liverock in my 125 gallon reef. I was wondering if I should add anything to my reef to keep it happy and healthy? <Sounds like it already is happy and healthy, don't think I'd change a thing.> I also noticed a purple sponge that looks like vines and are almost translucent. I noticed it growing under a large piece of liverock and it is attaching itself to the skeleton of my Torch coral. Should I be concerned about this? <Mmm, no, not overly, though if it is easily done, you may want to shift the Torch away from the sponge.> Can you tell me what these might be? <Mmm, what species of sponge? Mmm, no, sorry, there are over 5000 species of sponges. Microscopy work is often needed to identify sponges.> As always thank you in advance... <Welcome! Mich>

Sponge Dilemma - 04/23/07 Hello Crew! <<Hiya Debbie!>> I have searched your site, but I am not finding a lot of information on sponges. <<Really? There is actually quite a bit of info re sponges...did you look here (http://www.wetwebmedia.com/sponges.htm) and among the links in blue at the top of the pages? I have a blue Haliclona that is attached to a piece of hard coral (that came with it). <<Ah yes, a very nice and attractive "photosynthetic" sponge>> I have had it for a couple of months and it has actually grown a bit. <<Neat>> Now, for the question(s)... I came home tonight and to my dismay, found my powerhead spewing out tons of air bubbles into my tank. I fixed the powerhead problem and then tried to vacuum, with a small siphon, the air bubbles that were stuck to the side of the sponge. A small piece of one of the fingers (about 1 cm) broke off. Before I could get it, it wound up somewhere under the rocks where I can't find it. <<Shouldn't be a problem>> Will this small piece become toxic to my tank? <<I doubt it>> Will the remaining sponge be damaged by all of the air bubbles that were attached to it? <<Not as long as the bubbles did not enter the sponge's vascular system...only time will tell>> I have an 80 gallon reef tank with a protein skimmer. It also has some Chemi-Pure in it that is a couple of months (3) old. I have four fish: Copperband Butterfly, Atlantic Tang, Coral Beauty and a Fridmani, along with some crabs and snails. <<The tang needs a larger system>> I am not sure whether I need to tear apart the tank to find the piece or not and what I can do to save the rest of the sponge. <<I would not tear the tank apart looking for the fragment of sponge...is of little/no concern. As for the remainder of the colony, just keep providing intense lighting and strong water flow>> Thanks for your help. Debbie <<Happy to assist. EricR>>

Clam Sponge? 4/17/04 I just got a Crocea Clam (my first) yesterday. With so many beautiful specimens at the store, I found it hard to pick one that I liked. Finally, I settled on one, mostly because of its beautiful orange parts of it's shell. It has bright orange sections with holes in the orange. After rereading the NMA reef book section on clams on WWM, I saw a part that talked about boring sponges. I never really heard about these while doing my research on clams. I think it may be a boring sponge on my clam and it covers quit a bit of the shell. I read that if left alone, it can kill the clam. My question is am I able to get rid of the sponge and how dangerous is it? <Mmm, well, first off... this may not be a sponge (many other organism groups, possibilities), but... could be. If really concerned, a thorough, and I mean a bunch of scrubbing, of the shell can be done... in a pan of water that you'll need to keep changing, outside the tank... with an old toothbrush...>> Is it contagious? <Mmm, as in can/could it spread? Yes> I can send a picture later today if you need one. My tank is a 75 gallon reef tank and everything is in parameters. Thanks. <Okay. Bob Fenner>

Re: Red Fromia star has hole in its head! Help! 4/4/07 Mich, Thanks for the reply. <Welcome!> The star ended up dying. <I'm sorry for your loss.> I believe it to either be an acclimation issue OR the teddy bear crab. <Either are possibilities.> I went back to the shop where I had acquired the star and there was a star from the same batch that disintegrated also. <Unfortunately this is not terribly surprising.> But, to my horror, I caught the teddy bear crab eating my sand-sifting star the next day! It ate a whole arm before I knew what was happening. <Yikes! I would not recommend the sand-sifting star (Astropecten spp.). These stars decimate your sand bed removing beneficial organisms and typically starve after a few months in captivity.> Needless to say I have removed the teddy bear crab from the tank. <Mmm, hopefully to a suitable home and not an untimely demise.> I had searched online about the teddy bear and various sites said it was reef safe and a detritus eater so I thought it was safe, thanks for the info that says otherwise....wish I would have known. <Not every source hold equal value.> Hopefully the star will live and regenerate a new arm. <It may.> Unfortunately, none of my corals are happy since adding the sponges. The tank at the store that one of the sponges was in was being cleaned when I bought it (water was really cloudy). I'm starting to think that I introduced a lot of toxins since I had to introduce that water into my tank. <Yikes!> I am going to do a few water changes daily for the next few days to get any toxins out. <Do watch this carefully. Dying sponges can really do a lot of damage.> Green mushroom won't open up, gorgonian won't come out and my torch is losing tentacles! <Ho buoy! Not good!> I'm about to do a water change right now. <Good!> I changed it yesterday and the gorgonian came out for a while. <You may need to do several large changes here!> Wish me luck! <Good luck my friend!> Thanks again for the info, <You are most welcome! -Mich> Luis

Red Phorbas sponge 7/7/06 Have you ever heard of a red Phorbas sponge encrusting a red fire coral? <Yes, have seen this> I was snorkeling in Bermuda recently and as a novice didn't know not to touch, <Yeeowch> so I picked up what looked to me like a sponge, it was red, sort of cone shaped but with holes in the top that made it look like a sponge. I carried it around for a few minutes while snorkeling and showed my son. He also picked one up. When we got out of the water our hands began to burn. The locals told us it was red fire coral. Our hands burned and itched for 24-48 hours but then resolved. My reaction has come back and my hands all swelled up. I am now on prednisone. I told the doctors that I picked up red fire coral. In researching this on your site the red fire corals seem to be fan shaped. <Mmm, commonly, but come in all shapes> In looking at pictures of sponges I came across the red Phorbas sponge and that looks like what I picked up. It says that they encrust dead or live corals. Or do you know if this is one of the "fire" sponges. And where I might find more info about fire sponges? I am still searching. Thanks for any help you can provide Typing with sore fingers, Katie McDonald <I'll bet, and unfortunately I'm fresh out of time as well. Please read through this search listing: http://www.google.com/search?q=are+phorbas+sponges+toxic%3f Bob Fenner, off to finish cooking dinner for 500>

Little Sponges in the Dark 12/2/05 Thanks in advance. <You are welcome in advance…hehe.> I had a few nice sponges on my LR. Left them alone because of all the benefits they are proclaimed to possess. I run a JBJ 12dx nc and went to do my monthly maintenance on the pump when I discovered to my dismay/surprise/shock that there are about a hundred of these things attached to the 3rd chamber walls. <Quite normal in the dark of a moderate flow area where the nutrients pass through.> All are the same white color and narrow down at the end w/ small nubs around the "mouth". Question is leave 'em be? <I would, though an overabundance of them may indicate a nutrient problem.> they are not in the display area so.... <Yes that's expected, see above. Adam J.>

Sponge questions 8/16/05 Dear Bob [or his stunt double]: <Brad Pitt isn't available, so you're stuck with me> In my 75 gallon tank, I have two tree sponges, attached to a single piece of substrate. I have had them in place for about five months. They are 15" and 12" tall, and have appeared to be doing well up until recently. When they first arrived, I was initially fearful that they might have been exposed to air in shipping, <Mmm, would be long-since dead if so> in as much as the bag had what seemed to be less than enough water. I thought that this would kill them rather rapidly, but they appeared to persevere. Within the last days, however, the tips of both have turned a pale white. I am thinking that this is an early sign of an imminent demise. [If it could be something else, please advise.] <Is not a good sign... something not agreeing... likely environmental... water quality largest category to check> For what it's worth, they occupy a 'canyon' between two principal mounds of live rock. I also have a 5" high blue Haliclona, which is thriving in the same location. [I have seen noticeable, significant growth over six months, including the addition of several new osculae.] A couple of rotating oscillators provide non-laminar currents, while a couple of asymmetrically-placed power heads assist. In addition, I have a spray bar across the back of the tank on the bottom, which provides additional flow through the 'canyon'. <Interesting> I direct-feed DT's phytoplankton every other day to my scallops, a couple of gorgonians, and feather dusters, and in the process I shut off most of the flow devices, leaving only enough current to move the plankton past the sponges. I also toss in a couple of millilitres of oyster eggs a couple of times a week. [My ammonia is zero, as are nitrites. Nitrates occasionally get up to the 20 to 40 ppm range. <I'd keep these below twenty ppm... perhaps a DSB, refugium...> I do 15% water changes weekly, and am pretty religious about monthly media changes in my canister filter.] The cast of characters in the tank has been stable for the last three months, with no surprises. <Ah, good> If my suspicion is correct, and the ends of the sponges are dying, does this mean doom for the entire organism, or can I cut away the white parts and hope for the best? <Better for now to check your alkalinity, pH, reduce the NO3 concentration... and see if this "does it"> Also, I have read of dying/dead sponges dumping toxins into a tank with dire consequences, but only in general, anecdotal terms. Do I need to be concerned about this with Ptilocaulis, or will the demise, if it happens, simply be a nitrate-spiking event? <Mmm, very likely you will see indications of any such pending crash, and have plenty of time to react> Separately, I have a thorny oyster which has become encrusted by what appears to be a chicken liver sponge. The sponge has grown over the boundary between the two shell halves, but I still see a siphon peeking out. Do I need to be concerned that the sponge will keep the oyster from opening, in effect suffocating or starving it? I would gladly do away with the encrustation to save the oyster. <I am concerned period re this sponge... it may well be the cause of all your troubles here... I would (gingerly) remove the oyster, and brush (with an old toothbrush, or your roommates...) all of this sponge away... rinse thoroughly and replace the bivalve> As always, thanks for your patient guidance. Rick Walters <Thank you for sharing. Bob Fenner>
Re: sponge questions 8/16/05
Bob, Thanks for the prompt reply. I hadn't even thought that the two questions could, indeed be related. After your observation, I did some further web research, and it appears that Chondrilla is notorious for its ability to accumulate nitrates and then periodically dump them into the water. <Ah, yes> A light bulb moment! This might also, at least in part, explain the periodic nitrate spikes that I have not otherwise been able to control. Over the last few weeks, I had added a refugium with Chaetomorpha, cleaned the gravel bed, and stepped up the frequency of water changes and filter maintenance, and reduced my feeding amounts and frequency to what seemed a healthy balance. My nitrates would be zero [or very near to] for a couple of weeks, and then bing! a spike that could not otherwise be explained. Au revoir, monsieur Chondrilla. Thanks again. I'll let you know how the tree sponge fares. Rick <Life to you my friend. Bob Fenner>

Spreading sponge 7/31/05 Hi Crew, <Hello there> I have a beautiful warm blue Indo Pacific sponge in my tank which is spreading in all directions. I had it placed in a clear area so that it wouldn't easily attach itself to any of my live rock. However, it is managing to breach all gaps and is extending itself so far that it has already attached to a rock several inches away. It seems to be trying to attach onto some mushrooms as well. When I bought it the sponge was growing on a dead stony coral skeleton which it has now completely covered. Should I try cut it back as it extends or risk letting it take hold on some of the rock? Many thanks for your help. Sharon <I would try to keep this sponge controlled by cutting... a bit at a time... like one corner... Bob Fenner> Re: ID troublesome encrusting algae, sponge predators Can you give me any ideas on predators of sponges? <The probable list is very long... can try various "reef safe" Hermits for your first round... Bob Fenner>

Sponge control Forgive my tenacity, but allow me one more follow-up question. I've already got reef-safe hermits. Haven't seen them touch it. What's #2 and #3 on the list? Thanks, John <Mmm, perhaps reading here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marinvind1.htm at the bottom... Bob Fenner>

Classic Knee-Jerk Reaction, Possible soft coral poisoning Hi again, sorry to bother you wonderful people with another one of my classic but asinine mistakes, but I like sponges (here's where you say OH NOOOO!!!!) <Oh oh> Anyway, I obtained a hard blue sponge that I believed was in good health, difficult to tell at the LFS, but no obvious white patches, open vents, and no algae. They did have it under pc's which I questioned them about, and they said it was fine - HAHA! Anyway, I QT'd him (blue is always a boy) for a month, almost 5 weeks in a little set-up I keep running just for that. I have a skimmer on it, but it's only 20 gallons - only some drop- offs in the tank, buttons, mushrooms. Anyway, 2 days ago I transferred him - he only had about 150 watts of pc's on him in QT, but I fed heavy with DTs... <This algae mix may be of use here or not> ...looked him over I thought really well - nice color, firm - so I acclimated to the display by starting the overflow on the qt, that evening. The display has 2x 400 watt 20k halides, 2x 140 watt VHOs at 10k, 2x 65 watt 50/50's, 2x 65 watt actinics. The fuge has a lot less light, 1 HQI pendant and 2x 65 watt pc actinics. I didn't think the display had too much light, I just put the sponge at the bottom. The next morning, my colt coral, my baby, I've been growing her for 3 years from a little pimple of skin on a rock - she was spectacular, almost a foot across and at least 8 inches tall - she don't look so hot now. I immediately thought sponge toxins, only too late - my toadstool shriveled, but recovered quickly when I put the sponge back in qt. My colt did not - she's never looked so horrible, deflated. There are some open polyps, and she doesn't stink, so I put her in a 70 gallon FO tank right now - the QT now has the sponge in it, did 2x 20 gallon water changes yesterday and 1 30 gallon today, turned the skimmer way up and added about 4 dry quarts of carbon. <Wowzah... this is a bunch> I definitely do not have enough light in my FO tank for the colt, but I figure it's better to get her away, completely, from whatever made that happen. <Agreed> What other species of Octocorals are susceptible to this toxin? <Most all> The fish seem fine, and all LPS and SPS corals are fine as well (I know you're not supposed to mix them, but I only have 2 soft corals, and the water volume is quite large, about 250 gallons, perhaps I should move them anyway). I've not noticed any reaction among colonial polyps either, if everything looks healthy I should leave it alone right? I've read several books that had information pertaining to sponges, particularly the hard blue ones, killing softies - I think Mr. Fenner has made mention of it several times as well, and I'm so sorry this happened, when I knew perfectly well that it could! Anyway, I could kick myself, I know better! Anything I can do for my colt? <You've... actually done it... all I would do... I'd wait a few weeks, move it back to the approximate position it was in> Are they somewhat hardy in this respect? I could frag the colony, I know there are parts that I can save, but I don't want to stress it further- with the low light in the FO tank, you think it will be ok for a few days, long enough to eliminate the toxins, or is keeping it in lower light stressing it further? How do I know if it's too far south to save? If it is, should I cut any pieces from it, or should I keep up the water changes and put it back in the display with more light and risk it getting worse? Thanks again, and sorry. Thanks, Aaron <Do wait a couple more weeks before re-moving this soft coral. Likely it will rally. Bob Fenner>

Green " Sponge" growing on my Zoanthid Hi, <Hello there> I have some type of green sponge or algae growing taller and taller on my Zoanthid, should it be removed? <Maybe... can you cut a bit off... take a close look to see what/which it is?> If so, how would I remove it without killing my Zoanthid? <Best by working at the conditions that favor this material over your mat polyp: Please read here re Algae Control: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/maintenance/index.htm > I have read the following paragraph but I'm not too sure how to removed it and how to know if this is the type that should be removed. Thanks for any help. Annie-Martine from Toronto Canada Symbioses: Many Zoanthids live in close association, either commensal or mutualistic with other species, particularly sponges and algae; and they "get along" with most other kinds of sessile marine life as well; neither quickly overgrowing them or being supplanted by true corals, other Zoanthids, Corallimorpharians or even some anemones. Regardless of their innocuous nature, Zoanthids should be purchased without their symbionts. Die offs from specimens purchased with sponges and algae are way too common. To repeat; the exception to the rule of Zoanthid hardiness is the ones that come attached to commensal sponges and algae. Many of these perish easily. <Do take care if you're going to try cutting the pest material away... the Zoanthid itself is quite toxic to humans... wear gloves, and wash these thoroughly afterwards. Bob Fenner>

Strange Encrusting/Smothering sponge 7/25/04 The sponge in the attached photo has slowly been covering this zoo frag, and seems to be smothering it. I have asked on a forum but no one had seen anything like it. Any identification info or what I should do about it would be appreciated. thanks, Rusty <no pic or attachment came through my friend... but we can still chat about it. Sponges are commonly associated with Zoanthids. Some are harmless or beneficial, some are parasitic and others are indeed simply another reef invert in competition for space. I'd suggest that you do remove (screwdriver or sharp chisel will be fine) some of the polyps from the sponge (use latex gloves to protect yourself from palytoxin). Clean the polyps off with a toothbrush (no worries) and pat the Zoanthids dry before super gluing them to a rock (see more info in my "Book of Coral Propagation" and elsewhere on the Internet). We also describe and illustrate some of these species in our "Reef Invertebrates" book. Anthony Calfo> Dried Sponges For Food? Hello there, <Hey there! Scott F. with you today> I am the proud owner of a Majestic angel who is doing very well as the sole inhabitant of a 120 gallon tank. Unfortunately in the UK few people have heard of Angel Formula type foods based on sponges and as far as I know there is no retailer stocking any. I spoke to the main wholesaler in the country and they told me that there are restrictions re the import of such foods, therefore I can't have it imported, particularly in its frozen form. I want to try and give my angel some sponges and I read somewhere that I can get dried sponges/tunicates from an oriental food store. Questions: Is it worth my trying? Are dried sponges good enough? Do they make an adequate substitute? <Honestly, I don't think that it is necessary or worth the effort to secure dried sponges for this fish. Number one, I'm not sure what types of sponges they would be, and, number two- I'm questioning what, if any, nutritional value dried sponges would have. Also, P. navarchus does not eat a great deal of sponge material in nature, when compared to say, the Rock Beauty or Regal Angel, so it should be very easy to get this fish to eat other prepared foods. Hikari makes an excellent "Angel" food, which seems to be more "tubeworm based" (although it does include sponge in the ingredient list), and is a great food that may also be available in the UK. Also, Gamma frozen mysis is one of the best foods you can feed to angels, IMO, and is eagerly accepted> Do they (the sponges) have a special name, in other words can I be sure that they have not been treated for human consumption? <Honestly cannot say- which is yet another reason to pass on these items, IMO> Thanks for your help, Massimo, Brighton UK <And thank you for stopping by, Massimo! Enjoy your wonderful Majestic Angel! Regards, Scott F>

Look Out, Sponge Bob! Could I buy live sponge and cut it up and freeze it then thaw little pieces for feeding for my Regal Angel? <Yikes! I sure wouldn't! First, it would be a shame to slice up a living sponge that basically went through hell just to get to the LFS! Second, some sponges may be toxic, so you'd have a hard time knowing which one to chose. Finally, I think it would just be cost-prohibitive. Much better idea to purchase a supply of a frozen food containing sponge, like Ocean Nutrition's "Angel Formula". It's readily available at most aquarium shops, or can be ordered on line from some of our WWM advertisers> I was thinking of taking the little pieces and placing them in a veggie clip mounted on the side of the tank. Do you think he would feed off it? Would I gain success? Please respond back soon. <Well, I really think that your fish would be better served (no pun intended!) with one of the prepared frozen foods, as mentioned above...You certainly could place it in a clip, but it may be easier just to chop up the cube of food and feed it carefully with a toothpick...> P.S. I am the guy with the Philippine Regal which is already starting to feed on frozen food. Sincerely, Chris Faiola <Ahh, yes- I remember! If this guy is eating frozen food already- then you're almost home free...Definitely, try the "Angel Formula"-I think it's a great food! Bon App├ętit! Regards, Scott F>

Sponge Muncher? Hello, <Hi there! Scott F. with you today!> I have a quick question about my flame angel. I am interested in buying a piece of live rock with some blue sponge on it (I believe that it is encrusting sponge). Would my flame angel eat it? I have included a picture. Thanks so much. Sincerely, Andrew Powell <Well Andrew, it's a really tough call. Just like with corals- the fish may show no interest at all in the sponge, or it may decide to snack on it continuously...Centropyge angels are not heavy sponge eaters, like Pomacanthus and other "full-sized" angels are. They do nibble on some sponge materials, but you're more likely to see them nibble on algae and detritus. You'll just have to make the decision and go for it! Try a small piece of rock first to see if the fish shows any interest in the sponge...It's probably the best way to find out, unfortunately! Good luck with this combination! My personal, gut level feeling? I'll bet that it will work out (but don't hate me if it doesn't!) Regards, Scott F>

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>

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