Tree Sponge - Amphimedon/Ptilocaulis sp.
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Sponges are simple organisms with complex identities. They are comprised of calcium carbonate or silica spicules that can vary between species or between individuals. Most sponges are very difficult to identify by scientific name since the size, shape and color of sponges is highly variable. Most sponges in the aquarium trade are only identified by common name as a result since the spicules usually need to be examined under a microscope by a specialist to determine their accurate identity.
Sponges are filter feeders. They feed by drawing water through their pores and retaining any microscopic food particles and passing the water through their bodies. Sponges are almost constantly feeding and filtering water and as such need a near constant supply of food to survive in an aquarium. Lighting is unimportant for most sponges but high light that can cause algae to grow on the colony can prevent the sponge from feeding.
Sponges should never be exposed to air while handling, transporting or acclimating. Even brief contact can cause air to get trapped in the sponge's pores which can lead to starvation or decomposing of the colony. The sponge should be place in a high flow area of the aquarium but not where air bubbles may be forced into it.
Visit That Fish Blog for more information from our marine biologists on sponges for home aquariums.
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