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Focus on Sponges

Find out how to take care of sponges in aquariums and learn about nine sponges available in the trade.

By John Dawes |

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We’ve all marveled at the almost-unbelievable ages that the majestic giant sequoias and redwoods of California can attain. Could there possibly be an organism on Earth that can match the 3,500- year life spans of these huge conifers? Could another organism beat the 4,730 or so years that a Great Basin bristlecone pine has so far lived? That answer is yes: a glass sponge! (See the sidebar “Sequoias or Sponges: Which are Older?”) Their longevity is but one of many reasons that sponges are so interesting to study and keep.

Varied Diet
Although some sponges feed on filtered plankton or other organic materials, some contain symbiotic algae. In the case of sponges, these algae are blue-green rather than the green algae that sustain corals. Sponges with symbiotic algae are generally split into two groups. The first group of algae-harboring sponges is capable of obtaining 48 to 80 percent of their food via symbiotic blue-green algae. The rest of their nutrients come from filtered food. In the second group of algae-harboring sponges, the percentage of nutrients obtained via the blue-green algae is much more limited and therefore not as vital for survival.

Want to read the full story? Pick up the October 2011 issue of Aquarium Fish International today.

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