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FAQs on Sponges, Phylum Porifera 3

Related Articles: Sponges in Marine Aquariums

Related FAQs: Sponges 1Sponges 2Sponges 4, Sponge Identification, Sponge Selection, Sponge Compatibility, Sponge Systems, Sponge Feeding, Sponge Disease, Sponge Reproduction

A gorgeous mix of sponge growths/colonies in Nuka Hiva, Marquesas, Polynesia. 

Sponge ID - 2/11/04 Well, I DID find 2 sponges that are in my tank, Leucetta sp, and this ugly one I have been looking at for months>>>a white sponge. <Sorry for the delay. These pictures still look like a faded Leucetta sp as well> I recently asked someone on your team what it could be and I think it was Fenner that said it sounded like "reef snot"! <Sounds like Fenner> UGH! Was that gross or what. <Well, I'm a guy. Takes a little more than the mere mention of snot to gross me out> I could be mistaken about Fenner though, maybe it was one of the other guys! <Still sounds like Fenner> In any case, my tank has it! <Not a bad thing. Some can't keep sponges alive even if their very existence depended on it> thanks for the sponge tip though, I had no idea. <Well, good luck to you. Thanks for being part of it all ~Paul> Pam

Sea sponge Source Dear Sir             We are the one of Aquafeed manufacturer in Thailand. We are interesting to do research and development about sea sponge application in Aquafeed. Could you advise me about the supply sources of frozen fresh sea sponge or supplier? We really need to know good supplier and well established company.  I am looking forward to hear your reply soon.             Thank you in advance for your support Yours Sincerely, Ronnachai Mhordee Procurement Manager INVE (Thailand) Ltd. <Unfortunately I don't know where I might refer you to directly. Perhaps SaltCreek(.com) in the U.S., makers of Ocean Nutrition formulated foods (they use sponge material in some of their products). I would try the World Mariculture Society for leads on supply sources. Bob Fenner>

This sponge wont stop growing what is it? help. 12/31/03 Hi my name is Brock Schell, <Hi Brock.  Adam here today.> and I am hoping you can help me. I have been trying to identify this sponge growing in my aquarium and no one seems to know what it is. It is pale yellow in color and started growing on the underside of a piece of live rock. Now it has spread all the way up onto the sides and top of the rock! Like I said it is pale yellow and where it is growing on the sides and top it looks kinda of like shag carpet or kind of feathery. I would like to know if it is toxic to the other critters and if I should take action to get rid of it. <Some sponges are toxic, but generally only if they die, eaten or damaged.  If the sponge threatens to encroach on corals, I would perhaps take action.  If the occasion comes where you damage the sponge in the act of moving something else, I would be prepared to change some water and run some carbon.  If at some point you feel that it must be removed, I would scrub it off of the rock with a wire brush in a separate container and discard the fouled water.  Sponges do have remarkable regenerative abilities though, and it may just grow back.  In the mean time, enjoy the fact that an animal that rarely thrives in aquaria is doing so well in yours!  Happy New Year!  Adam> Thanks Brock

Identifying a boring sponge 12/16/03 Dear Reefers, <howdy> In Calfo and Fenner's excellent book, Reef Invertebrates, it says that a boring sponge has no place in the reef aquarium. <true... for any aquarium set up with the (proper) intent to last for years <G>> I have a piece of rock which I purchased with Corallimorpharia (mushroom corals) sitting in my quarantine tank about to be moved into the main tank, and I noticed that it has a light beige coloured sponge growing inside the rock. <from what locale/species? Atlantic? Pacific?> It appears flush with the surface along and in depressions over the whole rock, as if someone had plastered and smoothed over the holes with putty. Could this be a boring sponge? <very very unlikely> What is the best way to identify potentially harmful sponges? The picture in RI does not show the edges of the boring sponge illustrated and its relation to the rock. The picture shows large holes in the sponge, whereas my one only has small pores. Are there any useful distinguishing features to look out for? Thank you Eric B <it may be best for us to find a scientific reference for this, although I wonder if Steve Tyree's hobby work on Porifera would help here? (dynamicecomorphology.com). Else, there are so many genera and species of boring sponge, we could not possibly describe them by mail, alas> PS - With regard to your reply about detritivores which process snail faeces, the nearest place which I have found in the UK for a Critter Kit is Tim Hayes of Midland Reefs near Birmingham, in case anyone else is looking for these. Its a 120 mile round trip for me - so I hope they don't die on the way back!   <ahhh... excellent. Tim is a friend of ours, and our UK distributor (books). Very nice chap... best regards to all :) Anthony>   

Fire sponge 11/5/03  do you have any information on a yellow fire sponge????  <I have no idea what exactly you are looking for, my friend with such a generic question. We get queries from all walks of life seeking different info... species ID, natural distribution, husbandry, etc. Let me ask you to please browse through our archives here at wetwebmedia.com (do a search with the Google tool at the bottom of our index page). Begin there mate. Anthony> 

Dying tree sponge 11/4/03  Hi Anthony,  <cheers, my friend>  I heard you speak in Madison this fall and learned sponges emit toxins when dying. Well, our red tree sponge's tips are turning white.  <alas, this is how most/many such azooxanthellate reef inverts end up when sold/bought for impulse purchases. Bummer>  Is there anything I can do to prevent further death?  <hmmm... tough to say as I would love to "fight the good fight" and help to save all, yet I am realistic about what is needed to serve the greater good. In this case, with little or no hope for this aquarium-unsuitable species to live from Go, combined with the fact that it is significantly noxious to the other life forms in your tank... I'm inclined to say pull it (remove to QT or isolation)>  Should I remove them from the tank immediately?  <no great hurry... it can be trimmed (the dead white parts) for some time safely>  Until I searched your site today, I had no idea that they're doomed in an aquarium. The sponges are at least 18 inches long and only 2 of the 4 branches have white tips.  <it will be dead in weeks my friend... very sorry to say. Not much to talk about.>  Any advice is appreciated. Thank you, Nancy I ( My 13 year old son was at the meeting too)  <I think I left a copy of my new Reef Invertebrates book for the club Library... if so, do check it out to see the chapter we have on sponges there. It illuminates the bad species and explains why... and highlights some of the good ones (photosynthetic species). With kind regards, Anthony> 

Red Mystery Growth I see little red growths that look like small, sprouting corals on my Live Rock.  I have seen the same on decorator corals that you can buy in the store.  Any idea what they might be?  The largest is a quarter inch in size with the tip branching out like a tree.  They are completely red and hard.  It appears they are growing, but cannot be sure. Thanks in advance.  I'll try to get a photo if you cannot identify with my poor description... Timothy K. Bossert <Well, Timothy, it is kind of hard to say what these are without a picture, but I'll hazard a guess that you're looking at a sponge of some sort...Or maybe even a macro algae, or even a form of coralline...If you could get a photo, we could probably get a more accurate description of what these things are...Regards, Scott F>

Sponges and Those Who Sponge From Them >Hello all, >>Good morning, Marina today. >I wanted to share an experience and ask a question as well.  Yesterday I received a red ball sponge (Pseudaxinella lunaecharta) from an online livestock retailer (I will omit the name here).  I just wanted to say something that most more experienced aquarists probably already know - that some species are just not a good idea to mail-order.   >>Mail order or purchase from any retailer, indeed. >The sponge came without any attached substrate and had some small patches of white/clear surface material, which I understand is dead/dying tissue.  I complained to the vendor and they told me to keep them posted about the specimen's condition, and call them if it gets worse - maybe I can get a credit.   >>"Maybe"?  Not good enough for me (I'm a real hardnose when it comes to customer service), I hope you paid with a credit card. >This is fine from a business standpoint, but they are still selling sponges that are almost certainly going to die in short order.   >>Especially since they question no one regarding suitability of final setup. >I think we as consumers can do a great deal to discourage this practice among dealers.   >>We vote with our dollars, yes? >I am also suspicious that, while the vender packed the bag ALMOST full of water, some air became trapped in the sponge during shipping - it looks like its blowing a bubble out of one of the openings.  So that's my two cents there.   >>I wouldn't want to be a sponge. >The question I have is now that I have this compromised specimen, what is the best way to attach it to some live rock?  I have some reef-safe epoxy - would that harm the sponge?   >>I don't think so, you could use that or cyanoacrylate (superglue) on a small portion.  If you're still not positive or comfortable, you could try some fine monofilament (fishing line) and mechanically affix the specimen. >Right now it is sitting with its base gently wedged between two rocks, but this is not a viable long-term placement.  Also, after 24 hours the opercula have opened and some of the white patches seem to have disappeared.  Does this mean the sponge is looking up, or is it just false hope?   >>Can't say for sure without actually seeing the damage and then this occurrence firsthand, but if it appears healthier, then I would not give up hope. >Finally, is it a bad idea to leave a damaged sponge in the system?   >>I would prefer it to be in a quarantine system.  I believe in q/ting EVERYTHING (a bit hardnosed about that as well).  You can certainly watch it closely, as when they "go" they don't go as quickly as say, anemone.  I would think you'd have some time to remove it should it be necessary. >If it goes downhill fast will it poison the tank?  I read somewhere (I think WWM) that the really noxious sponges are mostly the photosynthetic ones.  I can only find very meager info about this species - is the formal name above outdated?  Thanks.  Nick >>Not sure about the rest of these queries at all.  If I were you I would hit our forums http://www.wetwebfotos.com/talk as well as http://www.reefs.org (though I've not seen too many folks very knowledgeable on sponges frequenting this site), and finally you might have more success on http://www.thereeftank.com as well as http://www.reefcentral.com .  Marina

Not So Super Snot - Mysterious Growth in Reef >Hello everyone, >>Good day. >I hope you can help me with a 'mysterious' growth in my reef tank. To describe it without sounding gross, will be difficult, because it indeed looks GROSS! It grows under my rocks, is opaque and whitish, (clear in spots) almost like a milky glass that dripped into the tank. >>Mmm.. sounds like reefsnot.  (I just made that up.)  It could be a bacterial/algal growth, I've never seen anything quite like this, though. >I haven't touched it yet because I can't get to it. I brought a sample of my water down to the LFS to make sure my numbers looked good, (my test kits are about 8 months old and I was getting conflicting results between the kits) and, all is within guidelines for a healthy environment.   >>Kit quality is important here, brand, as well as age (8 mths. doesn't seem to be too old, as long as stored properly) are important. >This 'white' stuff has been around for about 4 months. I don't know if it's soft or hard. Any clues?? >>Sorry, I personally don't have one.  I believe I've seen photos of encrusting sponges that may resemble this, a web-page appropriate size photo would be helpful. >Also, I have had another form of growth that is ugly. It's blackish/green, and clogs everything.   >>Now *this* sounds like Cyanobacteria, and this would indicate an issue with excess nutrients.  Of course, not knowing your actual results, as well as what exactly was tested for, means that I can't give you a more specific direction in which to go other than address nutrient control. >I blow it off when I see it and take it out of the tank. It's about 1/8 inch think and it's full of air bubbles. When I squish it between my fingers, it deflates. Any clues with this one? >>Again, this sounds very much like Cyanobacteria.  Use the Google search bar on our homepage with this search term. >Thank you everyone of you. It's nice to have a place to ask questions and not be ignored!!  Pamela >>Quite welcome, and I hope this has helped a bit.  Marina

Disguising plumbing with live coral II 10/16/03 Thanks for the quick reply Anthony, the water return pipe are in the tank about 4" away from the lights, I've already glued the purple mat of the Star polyps to the top side of the flare nozzles & various places along the returns, I want the corals to completely encrust the pipes, I just wondered if placing the coral on the underside of the 3/4" pipe would convince them to move towards the top side a little quicker.   <I understood/gathered as much/The concern is that the underside simply receives inadequate light for even such a hardy coral to establish. Hence the sponge recommendation (may sponges are weakly photosynthetic and will fare well in light or near dark. In your case (so close to the surface) its tough to say... perhaps yes, it will work. A lux meter sure would be handy right about now. Ha! Anthony>  

Algae covered sponge 10/6/03 First things first...I love your site!  It's a life saver!!!   <thanks kindly... do tell a friend> Now...let's get down to business.  I have this yellow sponge, not really sure what type it is.  About a week after I bought it, some  Cladophora sp. macroalgae (ID's by article's and pics on your site) started growing on the top of it.  There is also some growing on one of my snails.  Makes the snail look like it has a afro.. it's pretty cool.  I had a yellow tang, but it died.  It didn't eat the stuff off of the snail, so I'm assuming it wont eat it off the sponge.  And I want to keep the stuff of the snail.. just looks too cool!  Now... since sponges are filter feeders, can I just place the sponge in the sump for a few days so the algae can't receive any light?  Or is there a better way?  Thanx for your help! Duane A. <the algae is likely growing on the sponge because of inadequate water flow and/or excess nutrient in the system... do address these concerns for long-term success. As to the present situation, you can take a soft bristled tooth brush to the sponge under water (never expose most species to air) and simply scour off the pest algae. Best of luck! Anthony>

Sponge ID - 9/30/03 Crew: Hey, I finally got a picture of my tiny sponge that came on LR. <Sorry for the delay. This email has moved about a few times before I received it.>  I hope it looks clear enough to identify. <Not really>  The "debris" on it did not come off when I blew a powerhead on it. <Try a turkey baster at an angle so as to not to push the debris further "into" the sponge>  It has a similar opening on the other end.  I am hoping to help sustain the life of this organism, and I know identification is the first step.  So, any ID? <Unfortunately no. Too hard from a picture, to tell you the truth. Harder than corals as there are a great many similar sponges out there. What part of the world is the live rock from? This might help narrow down the search to at least a region to start. Sorry for the lack of an answer -Paul> Thanks, Rich

Creature identification - sponge 9/14/03 Hello everybody! <howdy> Every day something new comes up in my new LR. What I noticed in the last few days are some "creatures" which stick on my red microalgae but also below a live rock. There are about 10 already. They look like worms and are small (half an inch or smaller), fat and hairy and with a "mouth" on one end. I do not know if they should be removed or are "innocent" for my new reef. <they are harmless if not helpful: they are Sycon sponges> I am attaching a snapshot taken from my VCR. Hope it helps. Thanks, Thanassis, who is very excited with every day's new discoveries on his new LR <agreed... a marvelous hobby, revealing the marvels of nature. Best regards, Anthony>

Sponge hitchhiker - 9/11/03 Crew: Thanks for the reply. <Very good>  You guys and girls are the greatest! <We try>  After looking over my new, curing LR yesterday, I discovered a small red sponge (kind of how Columbus "discovered" America). <cool>  It is about an inch long and not as wide. <small> At first I thought it just has not rotted yet, but then later I noticed the...(wait while I look it up)...oscula(!) was open. <Did you just say oscula? Whoa> Now, I am more than a little excited! <Yeah, open osculae do that to me too.....wait.....>  While I am looking around some more, I noticed that my powerhead has slumped a little off the glass (DAMNED SUCTION CUPS). <Say it again!!!!> I fix the powerhead and in the process make a little debris mess that quickly engulfs the entire tank. <DAMNED SUCTION CUPS!!!! I agree>  I normally would not be concerned with only the LR, but now I got this little sponge to worry about.  So, I am looking at it as if to say, "hang in there man", and I couldn't believe my eyes - IT WAS BREATHING! <Uh......>  I mean, you could see the body pumping up and down. <Likely feeding, but also trying to remove the debris>  Am I that easily amazed, or is this incredible? <very cool!!!>  It was looking for food, right? <Possible. Again, could have been removing debris as well>  After my long-winded story, I need to know if I have any chance of continuing this sponge's life? <hard to say. An ID will be very important for its survival. I recommend identification first. May need to employ some library research here. Check the internet as well>  Can it be one of the easier ones to keep - I mean, it made it this far, right? <hard to say> What can I feed it? <Depends on identity, me thinks.> Thanks for all you do so well, I am a lifer! <Thank you. -Paul>  Rich Ps:  I like that the new book target release is just "2004", so you don't have to keep bumping up the monthly estimate :D. <Exactly>

- Orange Breadcrumb Sponge - Hello Web crew, <Hello to you.> Hope all goes well on your end, <When it's going, it does... thanks for asking.> I have a question about the Orange breadcrumb sponge I was thinking of purchasing I have found some info on it like feeding of sponges but nothing that really specifically talks about the husbandry of such a sponge like lighting, water flow difficulty of care. I would like to get a sponge and was wondering what you guys and gals think of this type of sponge as I hold your advice in high regards. <It is not that easy to keep... requires specific foods.> I have never had any sponges (except for the kind that hitch hikes on live rock). The LFS has a real nice healthy looking one that stands about 5-6 inches tall and is really bright orange which would add some color and uniqueness to the system. Please let me know what WetWeb thinks. <Well, for starters, don't expose it to the air - this is sponge-rule number one. Next, you will need to feed planktonic foods and other dissolved organics which is the no-so-easy part. Likewise, strong water flow will be required to encourage its long-term survival. For some more background, please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/sponges.htm And also consider picking up the new Wet Web Media publication, Reef Invertebrates, which has an entire chapter dedicated to the sponges.> Thanks again, James <Cheers, J -- >

-Orange crumb sponge- <I apologize that you had to send a few; one found its way into Anthony's box who is busy working on the new book> I was thinking of getting a sponge and a fish store here in my town has a very nice healthy looking what they Call Orange crumb sponge. I have looked all over and haven't been able to find any information specifically talking about the husbandry of this sponge. I would like to know what you think, the lighting required <None, this sponge is not photosynthetic if it's a Stylissa or Stylotella sp. (guessing!)>, I found stuff on feeding, water flow needed... etc. of this sponge. I would like some information before I purchase said sponge. <Large sponges like this (as opposed to the tiny ones commonly imported on live rock) have generally failed to thrive in captivity either from poor handling or improper water flow and feeding. If this sponge is what I think it is, it has a pretty dismal survival rate. If you care to try one of these sponges, make sure it has ample water movement, and I'd suggest daily doses phytoplankton (rotating different species to assure food diversity). It would also be a great idea to install a refugium to help generate some additional natural foods. You can check out the sponge chapter in Bob and Anthony's book Reef Invertebrates as well. Good luck! -Kevin> Thank you, James Wesley

Sponge ID Dear WWM Crew, Can you help make an ID of this assumed sponge?  I'm attaching a jpg for your review.  Any associated problems with this animal? <A nice growth of (white) syconoid sponges. Sign of a healthy, stable system. No worries> Thanks for your web site and help, Brian in Alaska <Thank you for sending this along. Bob Fenner>

Syconoid sponges of the genus Sycon 7/10/03 Hello I'm new to this whole thing, anyway I have a 29 gal salt water with just crabs, 25 lbs of live rock, feather dusters, a couple of snails, a mushroom coral (small), and these on the side of my tank... What are they? Thank you for your time <these critters are very common and commonly misidentified or "unknown" incidentals that develops in marine aquaria with live rock. They are Syconoid sponges of the genus Sycon. Filter-feeders... harmless, and even desirable. They can reach plague proportions if the tank is neglected or has other nutrient control issues. Else no worries... enjoy! Kind regards, Anthony>

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