Please visit our Sponsors

FAQs on Sponge Systems

Related Articles: Sponges in Marine Aquariums

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

Sponge Spa Day      9/8/17
Good morning WWM,
<TT; oh... is this the same friend as on FB?>
My two orange ball sponges (Cinachyra alloclada) tend to be more susceptible to debris/minor algae growth.
<I do think this is a common issue in captive specimens... and to a lesser extent on ones in the wild>
They are positioned in low light areas to prevent algae and one of them hosts a cleaner shrimp (that is obviously horrible at his job). Occasionally, I will put on some gloves and use a fine makeup brush to gently clean them with my arms in the tank, but I am always afraid I will hurt them.
<Mmm; think this is fine>
This method, with me being so delicate, doesn’t completely clean them off either. How rough is too rough on the surface of the sponge or, more importantly, is this practice not safe for the sponges? What is the best way to safely clean them?
<I suspect that Cinachyra are very tough, resilient. I would do this brushing regularly (weekly) during water changes, gravel vacuuming, what have you; while you're in the tank already. I might add blasting them with a submersible pump during this maintenance period. >
I consider myself something of a sponge collector and, since all the sponges in my system grow very happily, hope this general dirtiness is not a sign of poor health.
<It is not; assuredly. Will toss in a pic of one from the wild... AND invite you out to go dive adventure traveling with us (have done so) on the FB Scuba Diving Friends page... Out to Cozumel next mo!.>
Here is a photo of SpongeBob Circle Pants the sponge and Patrick the cleaner shrimp: https://www.screencast.com/t/Wco0cN2Qy
<Nice! I would move this specimen up perhaps a few (couple) of inches, onto rock. Bob Fenner>
Any feedback you have is greatly appreciated. Thanks!
S pozdravem / Best regards,
<Vítejte, Bob Fenner>

Difficult Keepers in New System        5/23/17
Good afternoon, team!
Have been researching ad nauseum and will try to cover all the bases--sorry for length. Have a new 24g Nano Cube set up (2-36w CF bulbs, 290gph pump, 160gph powerhead, bio balls and ceramic rings, some activated carbon in overflow, no skimmer). I cycled it with 40 lb. of bagged live sand, 10 lb. of (not so) live rock from LFS, and a cocktail shrimp. Added a neon Dottyback (captive bred, and I know he may end up being only fish in this volume).
I ordered an additional 20 lb. of aquacultured live rock and 10 lb. of live sand from a vendor in FL. Picked it up Sat on vacation and had everything in my tank Sun afternoon (less than 30 hours in transit, rock and all submerged--quality and quantity of life is amazing). I received a clean up crew package with the rock as well as (you know what's coming) some freebies, including some sponges and a flame scallop.

Am attaching pictures-- apologies for size. Sponges were shipped with no air in bags and came with instruction not to expose to air (did my best, but probably ended up with the very tops of the larger ones out of water
briefly just due to size of sponges/bags/ aquarium). Feet of larger two appear to be intact and smaller ones have substrate. Scallop appears to be in great condition and has been moving around.
I've had a small cycle since introducing rock (as expected). The pH has been low since I started the tank (around 7.8) but I haven't messed with it since I thought it would stabilize with the addition of the new rock and I didn't plan on delicate inverts for a good while (haven't started testing Alk/cal/phos yet for same reason).
<Do keep your eye on the/this pH... the new LR is likely lowering still... Needs to be buffered, either through water changes with higher Alkalinity, or small water changes with buffering upward added in excess>
Salt mix is Reef Crystals and I run my water for at least 24 hours with a powerhead circulating. Adding the new rock has triggered a small cycle as expected--ammonia went up to .25ppm yesterday (completed 15% water change) then fell back to 0 and now nitrite is up to .25ppm. Nitrate is maybe 20ppm. Will do another water change in the AM.
So have read extensively about long-term survivability of these filter feeding critters (quite poor) and your general view on their removal from the wild (tend to agree and would not have intentionally purchased) but they are in my tank now for better or worse and I'd like to really make an effort unless you think the sponges are just in too poor condition.
<Hope springs eternal... I'd try to keep all>
I think I have enough water movement (have been also trying to keep them clear of debris), but I know my tank is too young to support these critters just from my sand bed. I ordered some Coral Frenzy and will follow WWM
instruction on blending product and spot feeding,
<Yes; a "soup" of same, blended small crustaceans... a bit of high quality dry food added... pipetted in/around these filter feeders a few times daily... likely with pumps temporarily off... AND lots of water changes...
maybe even daily. Use Nitrate conc. as a measure of how much... NO more than 20 ppm>
but will my critters even accept prepared foods?
<To some extent, yes... may have to feed during lights out...>
I'm eyeing some cultures of live phytoplankton by Algagen but want to be cautious about polluting my small, new system.
<This IS going to happen assuredly. You will have algae, very small plankton/cloudy issues>
Is that my best bet and just increase water changes to compensate?
So basically can the sponges and scallop be saved with the resources I have available, or some that I can acquire quickly?
I kind of like the idea of running a nutrient-rich system with lots of life but don't want to beat my head against a brick wall either.
<Oh yes; I DO understand. And really wish we lived nearer each other... I'd like to visit, kibbutz re>
Thank you all so much for all you do. Have utilized WWM extensively in planning this system (including all the nano eBook downloads) and will continue to support the effort.
Full stock list if helpful:
Neon Dottyback (captive-bred), Stippled clingfish (came with rock package--am hoping Dottyback doesn't harass/dismember), Peppermint shrimp (see above re: Dottyback), Flame scallop. Decorator crab, Larger brittle
star, Tiger tail sea cucumber (am keeping an eye on this guy). Maybe a dozen assorted snails, Nassarius, Turbo~12 blue leg hermits~12 white hermits
<I'd cut the hermits back, way back... to maybe four total. Are not totally scavengers>
<Bob Fenner>

Re: Difficult Keepers in New System        5/24/17
So you're saying there's a chance! Good enough for me. :-)
Game plan:
1) Continue frequent small water changes while system stabilizes (was plan of course anyway given other life in tank). Am hoping as DSB (4"+) matures over next weeks/months frequency can decrease but until then as needed.
It's painless in this size system. 2) Buffer pH up. Haven't needed to do this in previous tanks--off to research methods/products (my favorite pastime right now--the boyfriend is unamused).
<See WWM re Alkalinity and look into my fave line... SeaChem Products, here>
3) Make a slurry of food stuff--Coral Frenzy, pellets, maybe some Mysis,
Reef One, cocktail shrimp... Blend (then soak blender in vinegar, blecchhh). Pipette upstream of relevant critters AM/PM. Wonder how mixture will keep in the fridge?
<Yes it will for a few days (3-5)>
May experiment/use a sniff test before adding.
I'm not overly sensitive about a little algae and grunge here and there if it means the critters are happy. Am not someone who will ever have a bare bottom tank with frags on plastic racks--I like more "stuff." I also like
kibbitzing--let me know if you ever do a conference or anything out this way.
<Oh... where? Aurora... in Riverside, CA? My only for sure scheduled pitches/presentations are MACNA (New Orleans) and Aquatic Experience (Chicago) thus far this year>
Oh, hermits are teeny tiny now, maybe 5mm. Will watch and reduce numbers as needed. All of the white ones came in my sand.
I'll let you know how we're doing in a few weeks/a month. I know this is a fun project because it'll probably be 2018 before I could call it a "success" with potential for failure sooner. But I like projects. :-)
Have a fantastic evening!
<Thank you Laura... Had a dream or two re your set up, livestock last eve... Do want to state more: Would be GREAT if this little cube tank was tied in w/ another bigger system; and/or a large sump/refugium... w/
another DSB, RDP lighting arrangement, macro algae culture... and more.
Would make all that much more stable, easier to keep clean. Cheers, Bob Fenner>

orange sea rod   9/19/11
I have an orange sea rod that has been in my mini reef for about 4 months now. I had put a small powerhead in direct flow of the sea rod. I noticed about a week ago a piece of the orange skin had been removed by the powerhead being so close. The area exposed is now all white. I was wondering if I
should just snip off the exposed piece, or will it grow back? Thanks for any suggestions. Eddie
<I'd leave it be; hope for local re-growth. These Octocorallians are not easily kept however... Have you read (on WWM, elsewhere) re their husbandry? Most "survive" for a while, shrinking and dying from lack of nutrition, chemical availability... Bob Fenner>
Re: orange sea rod 9/19/11

Thank you
<Welcome EJ. BobF>

Spider Sponge  1/8/10
Hi there, <Matthew here.> I just purchased a spider sponge from my local fish store. I couldn't afford the 250.00 dollar piece <Impressive...> but he had just fragged himself and I got the frag for 15.00. I seems like it is in good condition. I was wondering how I should attach him to the frag plug. Right now I am using a rubber band to hold him onto the frag plug.
<I would imagine that the rubber band method would work just as well as anything. Another option would be cyanoacrylate-based super glue.>
Is this going to work as good as anything else ore should I use a different method and if so what method. Also how soon can I expect him to attach to the plug and start growing
<Growth will depend heavily on how happy it is in your tank. Sponges are not notorious for growing like weeds, so you'll have to be patient. The super glue method would obviously be faster than the rubber band method. Personally, I'd be afraid of the off chance that the super glue would lead to some tissue necrosis. Tried and true rubber band method for me.>
so I can move him into a little bit higher flow because I don't feel like he's getting enough flow where's he is at.
<See http://www.wetwebmedia.com/gorgidfaqs.htm, about half way down the page. Seems like the nomenclature on this specimen is varied, at best.
Looks like it is a fairly common sponge, Anixella sp., with a Parazoanthus sp. attached to me. It is a commensal relationship. You'll have to consider feeding both the sponge, and the polyps.>

Sponge question; sys., fdg....   8/18/09
Hi everyone (I don't know who I might get and it seems to change every time!),
<Whomever is here, picks up...>
I'm a big fan of your site, I cannot tell you how much time I have spent reading over your pages.
<Even just a guess-timate?>
They are very informative, thanks for putting all of the effort in. Anyway, I imagine you would like me to get to the point so here it is. I recently decided to try a foray into the world of sponges (I've always thought them fascinating!). So I purchased an orange fan sponge for my 12 gal JBJ nano deluxe.
<Mmm, such non-photosynthetic (by colour in general here) species are hard to keep in most captive settings... starve usually, if not outright too-damaged from collection, exposure to air enroute>
The tank is fairly well established and I have a large amount of live rock and soft corals (and a few LPS).
<And mixing diverse species, groups of Cnidarians in such small volumes is tenuous as well>
My corals include an assortment of Ricordea (yuma x2 and florida-lots), a variety of Discosoma, an orange Fungia, a colony of Rhodactis and my LPS includes a few heads of candy cane and one frogspawn coral. My other inhabitants include a Darwin clown, a cleaner shrimp, a scarlet hermit, and a small species of pistol shrimp (hitchhiker small green little guy).
Anyway, I would really like the sponge to do very well, so far I have primarily been relying on weekly water changes, but have also just bought a small skimmer. I feed the tank weekly (varying by week) enriched brine shrimp, Cyclop-eeze, and reef roids. I am not sure if any of these foods are suitable for a fan sponge (too big??)
<Foods are size-specific w/in a pretty narrow range, and all of these by themselves are too big for sure... however, bits and pieces, the liquid itself may be of some nutritional value here>
so I also bought a can of UltraMin F which is described as being a sponge food which I spray directly on the sponge every other day with the flow off. Have you heard of it?
<Just read re>
Will this be enough to sustain the sponge?
<Mmm, not likely, no; not of, by itself>
Any suggestions on what else I should do for it.
<Well... could be placed in a much more established, larger system... in a "cryptic zone" per its requirements of nutrient, flow... perhaps a sump/refugium if you had such, in a larger volume, perhaps one sans skimming, much in the way of mechanical filtration... But at this point, better likely to hope and wait/see... Generally these circumstances result in slow death, shrinking in size, rather than outright catastrophic mortality of the sponge, its tankmates>
Obviously its a small space right now (its also small, 3 inches tall), but my plan was to grow it out to go into a larger tank that I am soon to purchase.
<Do wait till this new system is "well seasoned"... In the meanwhile, determine the species of this Poriferan, its habitat...>
I currently have it positioned just above the middle of the tank, but the light seems largely uniform in such a space.
<... not likely photosynthetic... and more food on "average" to be found near the bottom...>
Any extra help or advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks very much!
<Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/sponges.htm
Bob Fenner>

Syconoid Sponges…Water Quality Indicator? - 09/09/08 Hello again, <<Hi Kathy>> Once again I need your wonderful assistance, <<Okay>> I have a 55 gal. FOWLR. I added the live rock about 9 months ago...I find that I have some Syconoid sponges. <<Not to worry, harmless if not beneficial…and adds to your biodiversity>> In all my research I am finding "They can reach plague proportions if the tank is neglected or has other nutrient control issues." <<Mmm…>> I may be getting to that point. <<A matter of perspective I suppose…I actually try to induce sponges to grow in my tank. Though some burrowing or encrusting sponges can be problematic (I have an encrusting black photosynthetic sponge that will overgrow anything, if not kept separated), the Syconoid sponges will stay for the most part to the cryptic areas of your tank. Their proliferation "may" be an indication of water quality issues such as excessive organic material, but not necessarily. Their presence will likely help with such if that's the case, but your water tests should bear this out>> By nutrient control, what do you mean? <<Limiting excessive nitrogenous compounds…generally a result of overstocking, overfeeding, poor maintenance…all the above>> I bet you mean over feeding, too much of one thing not enough of another. <<One aspect, yes>> The bioload is as follows, 1 yellow tang, <<Really does need a bigger tank (75g +)>> 1 royal grammar, 1 tomato clown, 1 yellow clown goby, 1 blue damsel, and 1 sleeper banded goby. I also have 1 cleaner shrimp, 4 banded troches snails and 3 scarlet reef hermit crabs. After 15 years of set up I began to have nitrate and ammonia problems. I found your web site and found an excellent information...and realized I had sooo much to learn <<Hee-hee! I'm "still" learning…>> ...at the end of 2007 I ripped out my undergravel system <<A good move in my opinion…and likely the source (detritus accumulation) of your water quality issues>> ...(ever so slowly) and added 65 lbs of LR.(It is also when I added the snails and crabs). <<Very good>> All of the fish (they are about 7 to 8 years old) have survived wonderfully in the last year, at one point we did have a small problem with bacterial infections but with meds and some more research switched up their diet... Stopped the krill (found it to be like junk food) and fed food with higher protein... <<If you haven't already, do get some New Life Spectrum pellets for these fishes. Highly palatable and nutritious…>> and my yellow tang started the red blotch and red streaks...gave her more vitamin C (Spirulina), she is now looking good. <<The spectrum food will help here…as would a larger system for the tang>> I feed 1 times daily flakes (prime reef and the Spirulina) and frozen bloodworms and mysis shrimp soaked in Kent Zoe and ZoeCon. <<Do be careful not to overuse these supplements…can also cause water quality issues re>> I also feed Formula One and two marine pellets. <<Spectrum?!>> For the next two feedings just the flakes and pellets. <<Variety is good>> I also offer some seaweed on a clip 3 to 4 times a week. <<Excellent>> I have been soaking their food in the morning every day, <<Ah yes…a clue to the sponge proliferations>> but with the many Syconoid sponges I thought I would just soak in the Kent Zoe and ZoeCon 3 x's a week. <<This is plenty>> Hopefully, this is what you mean by nutrient control. <<Indeed>> Perhaps, less feedings per day or also reduce the amount... <<Multiple smaller feedings is best…but I do believe in feeding (not starving) one's fishes>> I will read anything you tell me to... <<Perhaps a peruse here, and among the associated links: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/volume_2/cav2i5/Filtration/Filtration.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/setup/filtration/marineFiltr.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/feeding.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/besttgsreefs.htm >> Also, I am curious is there a predator that will perhaps eat these little sponges...? <<Probably [grin]…but honestly, I wouldn't sweat the sponges mate>> Thanks so much all you do! :) Kathy from Kansas <<Is a pleasure to assist. Regards, EricR from South Carolina>>

Sponges and Water Quality... sys., sel. 3/19/08 I have a 55 gallon reef aquarium with only three small damsels separated by live rock and a few soft corals. Water parameters are 0 ppm ammonia, 0 ppm nitrite, 10-20 ppm nitrate, 8.2pH, 75F, and a KH of about 300 ppm. I have no protein skimmer for my tank, and I believe that may be why my nitrate is pretty high. <Would help...> However, my corals are doing fine so I see no reason for a skimmer just yet. <There are many successful systems that do w/o> I use 2 x 96W T5 lamps for the corals, and they are all about 7" from the light source. This tank is just over a year old. I perform 10% water change weekly and 50% monthly. <I see> I was wondering if adding a store bought non-photosynthetic sponge would be possible for my setup. I have moderate water flow throughout the tank with water flow being extreme around the power heads. I actually want a more attractive ball or moon sponge now that I have seen a great deal of sponge growth in my aquarium. I'm guessing the dissolved organic compounds are plentiful. So far, one sponge has completely covered a Tonga branch "live" rock (...) so that all I see is a yellow porous crust instead of a multicolored rock (about 0.25 square feet of sponge). I feed the sponges twice daily with plankton and I'm hoping they eat the algae I scrape off the aquarium glass as well. The reason I am asking is that after I read your sponge section, my general impression about store bought sponges is that all of them will die from starvation due to inadequate feeding or a lack of light (I do not want a light dependent sponge). <Many do... but not all. Most perish due to poor collection, holding and shipping practices> Will a ball sponge thrive or at least not die in my tank? <Mmm, depends... what species?> Will sponges lower my nitrate levels? <They can> Could you please list some species that are easier to care for? <Is this not posted on WWM? Will look... Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/spongeselfaqs.htm> And finally, are all blue sponges photosynthetic? My pet store has a few blue ones tucked away under some live rock that seem to be doing quite well so I am puzzled as whether the color blue = symbiotic algae. <Mmm, no, not all are.> Thank you for your time and consideration, Sincerely, Henry. <Thank you for sharing. BobF>

Re: Sponges and Water Quality - 03/20/08 I'm going to guess on the species here since my store labels them all by this nomenclature: color + shape + sponge. E.g. Orange Ball Sponge. :) I think the species is Cinachyra sp. <Mmm, can be done: http://www.google.com/search?q=Cinachyra+sp.+use+in+aquariums&rls=com.microsoft:en-us:IE-Address&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&sourceid=ie7&rlz=1I7GGIC> After some more reading I have found that most of the food I feed is actually only a minute part of a good diet for the sponge. Before I make the purchase, I'll have to find a way to culture up some bacterial soup for daily feedings. Thanks for your help. <As with most Poriferans, do take care to avoid introducing air into the colony... Bob Fenner>

Sponge Complacency - 12/13/05 Hello WWM: <<Hello Frank>> I always like to preface my letters by letting you know how much you have helped me.  While I know not to stick with one source for information, you guys have definitely the ones I trust the most. <<Thank you...tis nice to know, redeeming to hear.>> I also learned early on (at the expense of a Rainford Goby) to do extensive research into any piece of livestock before I purchased it. <<Ah...very good...>> However, the thought of doing research on an orange tree sponge before buying it.  After all, I thought, its a sponge. <<Mmm, and a living thing (i.e. - livestock).  Do understand that researching your purchases does more than save lives of possible prospects, it can save the lives of those already in your care.  For instance, you bring home a creature on a whim, let's say a sponge, that sponge proves to be an inappropriate purchase for your system, breaks down releasing toxins, and wipes out your entire system...  Okay, maybe a bit dramatic...but hopefully you get the point.  Please research everything...>> I have since read how difficult they are to keep in an aquarium setting. <<Dismal survival rate, yes.>> I went to my LFS who recommended Kent's ZooPlex Invertebrate food, which I administer into the water using a bulb feeder around the area of the sponge.  My question is, is this enough to sustain it? <<Not likely...  We don't really know much/enough about these organisms to be successful, but a mature refugium/DSB would go further toward sustaining it.  Even so, this sponge doomed to slow starvation...and that's only if it has been handled correctly since collection (no exposure to the air).  Truly a poor choice/purchase my friend.>> I read that they also need good water flow, <<yes>> about how many gph would you recommend in a 55 gal reef tank? <<Minimum 10x the tank volume...20x would be better in my opinion.>> I am currently around 300 gph from one filter (coming from the sump) and a pump going in opposite directions. <<Adding another pump in the 200-300 gph range with converging streams for all to create random turbulent flow couldn't hurt.>> Thanks in advance, Frank <<Regards, EricR>>

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>

Nerites and sponges Hi Bob, First thanks for all the hard work you put in answering questions.  I have found WetWebMedia to be a fantastic resource. <Thank you for your kind words> On the freshwater snails FAQ at http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwsnailfaqs.htm the first question is about white scale appearing in a tank with Nerites snails. I have a 40 gallon SW tank with wildlife collected from the Sebastian Inlet (a man-made inlet between the Indian River Lagoon and Western Atlantic, on the Treasure Coast of Florida.)  Attached is a picture (albeit a poor one) of similar sounding white scale that began appearing in my tank, after the arrival of checkered Nerites snails.  I suspect they are Nerites snail eggs or egg cases, as close up they are semi-translucent, and look about half filled with something.  They appear on the back glass (I leave algae growing there, the Nerites cruise for it, and the blennies, crabs and grass shrimp snack on it) usually in a trail that has been mowed clean by a Nerites.   <Mmm, do look like the right shape... Please see here: http://www.wildsingapore.com/chekjawa/largfoto/r422fx.htm> On to my question… I recently collected a sample from a sponge colony, and have not yet identified it.  I'm hoping you can help.  The full colony was about 12 inches wide by 6 across, encrusting on rock about a half inch thick, with stalactite like outgrowths an inch or two in length.  It was in a semi-shaded spot in the shallows - about 4 feet deep or so.  It is orange in color.  I removed a strip from one edge of the sponge colony.  The sponge article at http://www.wetwebmedia.com/spongesii.htm mentions the importance of taking substrate, but this sponge was on rock, and live rock can't be taken in FL, though life can be taken from the rock, with the proper license. <But the sponge can?...> At first, in my tank I rubber banded it to a small piece of rock, then decided to set it on a larger piece of base rock, clipping one end under another piece of rock - somewhat dubious of how it would fare after being taken from its home. <Actually... was in Bonaire last week... diving under the municipal pier (that you now have to pay for, and have a guide... due to "terrorism" bogeymen), and they rope-attached a bunch of gorgeous sponge colonies to the pilings following last years' hurricane troubles... and they're definitely adhering, coming back...>   After a day only a day and a half, it had grown enough that it was secure on the base rock.  A fragment that broke loose during the rubber banding (and why I didn't like that approach, too worried I'd put pressure constricting too much area) had fallen to the bottom of the tank, and I left that sitting base down on a piece of shell fragment.  The second sponge photo I've included shows that fragment, and how much it has grown (both photos were taken after 4 and a half days in the tank.)  It doesn't seem to be growing invasively, but growing quickly where needed to secure itself. The only sponge I've seen online that is orange and native to the area in shallow water is the fire sponge, but no fire sponge pictures I've seen have the same structure, not to mention the fact that I braved the back of my hand to check for a sting before collecting, and handled it while placing it in the tank.  Any ideas? <Take a read through Paul Humann, Ned DeLoach's work on ID'ing "creatures" of Florida et al.... This is about the best, most complete, readily available guide (have their three volume set on my roll top as am sorting through the last trips slides currently. Bob Fenner> Thanks,

Bee Sponge husbandry Hi Crew! :) <Wallace> I recently bought this orange sponge coral and had problems identifying it. I finally found out that it was a "Bee Sponge" but I haven't had any luck trying to find any info on it! the only thing I could find on it was the following website from LiveAquaria: http://www.liveaquaria.com/product/prod_Display.cfm?pCatId=2161  <Acanthella species... there isn't much I could find re its husbandry either> Would you be able to tell me a bit more about it or where I can find info on it? I've tried searching the net with not much luck. E.g.. How do I feed it? How much light does it require (is there such thing as too much light for it) ? is it best placed in substrate or rock ? How do I maximize it's health etc. Many Thanks Guys! WK <Am responding (though I know, can relate little) as no one else has chimed in here. I cannot even tell you whether this organism is photosynthetic or not... but can tell you where I would next seek useful information. The reef-oriented bulletin boards, ReefCentral, Reefs.org... do query the folks there, other aquarists... for input from people who have actually attempted care of Acanthella sp. AND do keep good notes re your efforts and share these. Bob Fenner>

ATTACHING A SPONGE Greetings Crew, <Hi Thomas, MacL here> Included in a "livestock" order, I received a freebie Stylotella sponge (orange). It is about the size of the palm of your hand. I would like to place it on a piece of live rock where the current flow is plentiful but I do not know how to do that. Actually a tricky question.> So, my question is how do you attach a sponge to a hunk of live rock? <I've been doing some research on this, so sorry for the delay in responding. I used Anthony Calfo's book, and Eric Borneman's book and I went to www.fragexchange.com on the chance that they might have some advice. Everyone I speak with says to use superglue but no one seems to be able to address the problem of keeping the sponge in the water and superglue needing to be glued out of the water. One suggestion I did get was to dry the piece of rock off first then put the glue on the rock and bring just the tip of the sponge out of the water for the few seconds it takes to attach.> I thought about using aquarium silicon caulk but am worried about chemicals/curing. <I don't think that silicon would work for this. I think it would take too long to attach.> Thanks for sharing your expertise. <I do have possibly another suggestion. You might consider stacking small pieces of rock around the sponge. That might keep it in place. Good luck Thomas, and I will keep researching this.> Thomas Walters

Sponge help Hello again!! <Hello! Ryan with you today.> I've written you guys many of times and found your advice very helpful!! Thanx a bunch!!! <No problem> However, the time has come again where I am stumped and need some advising.  I would like to start off by saying my goal is to create the simplest most natural reef system I can. <I share your goal> I have a great interest in natural filtration types such as refugiums and such.  I have a 70g tall tank (36x18x24) and a 50 gallon trashcan refugium that I'm stocking with various plants and such.  It's got about 2in of crushed live rock in the bottom with about 2-3 inches of CaribSea special grade on top of that.  With the addition of some very rich "mud" (1-2) inches and some more crushed live rock I'm hoping that I'll have quite the live food generator for my corals and fish that refugiums are known for.  Just the other day I bought Mike Paletta's infamous Ultimate Marine Aquariums which has kept me chalk full of ideas for my system.  One tank setup that caught my eye was the system with a make shift chiller that uses sea water for cooling.  There was a huge 250g tank dug into the ground where the water table is high (system was built by an ocean).  This natural system inspired me to come up with a similar plan.  I have a 1-3 ft crawl space under my house which seems to stay much cooler.  I'm going to be getting a thermometer soon and ill find out exactly how much cooler it is down there.  Either way,  I was think of putting a large 100-200 gallon tank down there to house my naturally cooled water.  Have you ever heard of systems like this? <Absolutely! It's an ideal solution.  Geothermal heating/cooling solutions are wonderful.>  In theory this would work I'd just have to send a water return down through the floor and one back into the tank.  Now with all that said I was thinking I could also make this "chiller" an awesome refuge for some very low light/highly nutrient dependant sponges down inside the tank.  I'd place a large volume of sand in the tank with some rubble and rocks for the sponges to attach to.  I'd plan on buying a new very high flow pump to power the system.  I could dedicate one portion of the return from the pump as a closed system loop which would circulate water inside the sponge refuge (sponges need water flow).  The other return from the pump could go to my tank and its various wave making attachments. <Potentially great idea.  There are, however, some obstacles that may arise.  You'll need to make sure it's accessible to maintain.>  Eventually I could foresee this system working very well.  With a large population of dissolved organics from my refugium and tank waste the sponge refuge would have lots of food.  Consequently it would filter my water of these organics and there would be no need for a skimmer. <Hmmm....I don't agree> This is something that I've come up with and would like to know if you guys would think it would work.  If you don't quite get the whole system I could explain further, but you guys are pretty sharp. <I like the entire idea- Big thinkers do big things.  But I encourage you to get it on paper- plan, plan and plan some more.  Every problem you have while you're actually constructing is going to hinder your design- The more little "glitches" you can work out in the planning stages the less thinking on the fly will need to be done.> PLEASE let me know of anything I might be overlooking and such.  Or if you have any questions. <I would still add a skimmer, I'm biased.  I love the amount of oxygen that a skimmer puts into the water, and I think that removing organic debris before it is processed into waste is a wonderful way to keep water crystal clear.  However, many others scoff at skimmers!  I would certainly want a skimmer on hand in case my sponges took a dive.> Chris aka "fishtank" I'll be eagerly checking my mail for a response!!! once again thanks to all of you guys and gals I really appreciate it!!!!!!!! <No problem!  And boy, if you actually get this thing built, we want some pictures.  Good luck, Ryan>

Haliclona Hello, I read your very interesting article on sponges and have a simple question. I recently acquired what I believe is a Haliclona blue sponge. <A common species... well, one of the few collected for the trade... from the Indo-Pacific> The sponge appears to have been handled correctly and seems to be in good shape. You note that this sponge requires intense lighting in the article. I knew this sponge was partially photosynthetic but this raised my eyebrows. How much lighting do you think is necessary?  <A/the question of the hour... have just reviewed the literature and all my image work (last few days, many cups of coffee, tea)... and "intense" for these animals and their Blue-Green Algal (Cyanobacterial) symbionts is not the same as "intense" for SPS Corals, Tridacnids...> Currently it is 14" below a 250W halide in what I would call moderate light appropriate for Porites and Montiporas.  <And more than what I, it is meant by "intense" for sponges... the best advice (really) is to try this animal where you have it, under your extant conditions, and if you notice algae growing on it... to "move it over" to a less lighted setting.> Secondly I am curious about feeding. Currently I feed Cryopaste, 20-60micron, 60-100micron, and 100-200micron Golden Pearls perhaps 3 times a week. I'm going to make my own "tank" food which will include the above in lowered amounts as a daily additive. Any comments regarding feeding?  <Likely not very necessary (for this Sponge)... do just watch it, maybe take, save a digital pix... see if it's "shrinking"... otherwise, I'd be more concerned with the effects of declining water quality (increasing nutrient levels) and the ill-effects of encouraging pest algae growth on the Haliclona. Bob Fenner> Thank you! Cheers, Chris (aka newkie)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Become a Sponsor Features:
Daily FAQs FW Daily FAQs SW Pix of the Day FW Pix of the Day New On WWM
Helpful Links Hobbyist Forum Calendars Admin Index Cover Images
Featured Sponsors: