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Invertebrates: Sponges

Most sponges are extremely difficult to identify without destroying part of the sponge to examine the spicules (silicate or calcerous “splinters” that make up most sponges), and even then, identification is difficult.  Therefore, these are just more for visual enjoyment than identification.
These sponges were all hitchhikers on corals, and they all are able to thrive in reef aquaria.  If they get out of hand, reducing nutrient levels in the water is the best method.  While most are quite attractive, some may contain toxins that are harmful to tank inhabitants and possibly humans.  Use caution in handling them (and do not expose them to any air.)
White Sponge:
I frequently find these little white sponges (about the size of a pea) throughout my aquarium in shaded areas (typically on the underside of a coral.)  They’re quite beautiful and are not invasive.

Yellow Sponge

Photos do not do this sponge any justice.  These little guys are about the brightest yellow organisms I’ve seen in a reef aquarium, and like the white ones above, they grow about up to the size of a pea.  They seem to tolerate higher flow and higher light than the white ones.  Overall, these are my favorite sponges.
Syconoid (“Pineapple Sponge”)

These little white pineapple-looking sponges are frequently found in saltwater aquariums (probably the most common).  They seem to prefer low flow and low light areas.

White Spider-like Sponge
This sponge grows on the glass of my refugium in low flow, low light areas.  Its structure consists of thin-walled tubes going off in various directions.
Yellow Encrusting Sponge
It may just be coincidence (but I think not) that this type of yellow encrusting sponge is found under the skeleton of every dying Blastomussa coral I’ve tried to rescue.  As it does not appear to physically touch the coral, my guess is that it is releasing some sort of toxin.  I have not encountered this sponge with other corals, but I have about five times with Blastomussas (collected from different regions.)
Black Sponge
This encrusting black sponge grew very little in the four years I had it in my aquarium.  I had no problems with it.
Sponge Diversity
In this photo alone there are over five different types of sponges living within about a one square inch space.

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