Sponges causing trouble

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Calm Blue Ocean

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I'm not normally anti sponge. I've had all kinds bloom and die back since I started this tank, most recently a fairly good pineapple sponge bloom in the back chambers.

In the display I have a couple of these pinkish translucent sponges, and they didn't really worry me too much. As I said, sponges of different types have come and gone, but recently this one has decided it's not happy with the rocks and has started causing trouble with the corals. It's slowly choking out a blastomussa wellsi and last night I noticed that it's up in my King Midas zoas, too. There are a number of other corals on the rock with a mix of softies and LPS but I can probably remove the rock for surgery if that is the only option. There is another rock where a similar sponge has a montipora setosa surrounded but hasn't crossed the line from benign neighbor to invader yet. That rock would be a major ordeal to remove.

sponge.jpg


The sponge goes well into the rock. A sponge predator would be awesome (I have plenty to feed one) but research says that's an unlikely solution. Will scraping at them really make them spread? The tank is only 50g so not a lot of water volume to dilute any chemical solutions.

How do I save these corals? It sucks because they were doing so well. The blasto was even starting a new head. That's covered in sponge now. :(
 

Timfish

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My guess would be the sponge is just a secondary issue to something else is a primary issue (are you carbon dosing? DOC is hte main food for many sponges). You can use steel straws to get in around the corals to siphon out the sponges.


In addition to Tyree's ebooks here's some of the research on sponges:

Element cycling on tropical coral reefs.
This is Jasper de Geoij's ground breaking research on reef sponges. (The introduction is in Dutch but the content is in English.)

Sponge symbionts and the marine P cycle

Phosphorus sequestration in the form of polyphosphate by microbial symbionts in marine sponges

Differential recycling of coral and algal dissolved organic matter via the sponge loop.
Sponges treat DOC from algae differently than DOC from corals

Surviving in a Marine Desert The Sponge Loop Retains Resources Within Coral Reefs
Dissolved organic carbon and nitrogen are quickly processed by sponges and released back into the reef food web in hours as carbon and nitrogen rich detritus.

Natural Diet of Coral-Excavating Sponges Consists Mainly of Dissolved Organic Carbon (DOC)

The Role of Marine Sponges in Carbon and Nitrogen Cycles of COral Reefs and Nearshore Environments.

 
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Calm Blue Ocean

Calm Blue Ocean

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My guess would be the sponge is just a secondary issue to something else is a primary issue (are you carbon dosing? DOC is hte main food for many sponges). You can use steel straws to get in around the corals to siphon out the sponges.


In addition to Tyree's ebooks here's some of the research on sponges:

Element cycling on tropical coral reefs.
This is Jasper de Geoij's ground breaking research on reef sponges. (The introduction is in Dutch but the content is in English.)

Sponge symbionts and the marine P cycle

Phosphorus sequestration in the form of polyphosphate by microbial symbionts in marine sponges

Differential recycling of coral and algal dissolved organic matter via the sponge loop.
Sponges treat DOC from algae differently than DOC from corals

Surviving in a Marine Desert The Sponge Loop Retains Resources Within Coral Reefs
Dissolved organic carbon and nitrogen are quickly processed by sponges and released back into the reef food web in hours as carbon and nitrogen rich detritus.

Natural Diet of Coral-Excavating Sponges Consists Mainly of Dissolved Organic Carbon (DOC)

The Role of Marine Sponges in Carbon and Nitrogen Cycles of COral Reefs and Nearshore Environments.


Thank you for such a detailed response. There is no tool like information and maybe armed with that I can find out why sponges love my tank so much! I have been carbon dosing since May and wasn't aware of the possibility that it could fuel sponge growth (most people only talk about sponges and silicates). During today's water change I noticed yet another type of sponge growing inside the rock at the top of the tank. They are really interesting organisms but I have to draw a line when they start smothering corals.
 

Miami Reef

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Do you have diatoms? Diatoms and most sponges require silicates to grow.

I think checking your water source for TDS should be the first step. I never heard of sponges that will grow solely from carbon dosing if they are limited in silicates.
 
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Calm Blue Ocean

Calm Blue Ocean

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Maybe that's why my Phosphate refuses to go down with carbon dosing.
I have an infestation of Blue Sponge.
I have been told Chemi Clean kills them.
Tim for the win again!

I'm asking myself the same question. I just upgraded my skimmer so I'm hoping that might help. Very interesting if the sponge issue is related (cause or effect) to the carbon dosing fail. Agreed, Tim for the win!
 
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Calm Blue Ocean

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Do you have diatoms? Diatoms and most sponges require silicates to grow.

I think checking your water source for TDS should be the first step. I never heard of sponges that will grow solely from carbon dosing if they are limited in silicates.

I haven't done an ICP test since June but at that time my RODI tested clean and silicon in my saltwater was in what they called a normal range (83.39 µg/l). The TDS meter on my RODI shows zero and I replace my DI resin at the first sign of anything other than zero. I do have what could be diatoms (but I haven't confirmed with a microscope) on a recently introduced rock but the sponges have been around longer than that. Tank is about 14 months old.
 

Timfish

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A couple comments. Some sponges use calcium carbonate to form thier spicules, not silica. (I haven't gone down this rabbit hole to see which do and which don't, its enough I have multiple species in my systems.) . I'd also expect a significant degree of variation between species for thier demand of silica. I'd also expect there is silica available for sponge growth unless tests show definitively there is none. DOC is the main and in some cases the sole source of food for many reef sponges and they are critical recyclers in reef systems and remove DOC (especially the hydrophillic forms skimmers and GAC can't remove) 1000X faster than bacterioplankton removed by skimmers. It's been a while since I used Chemi Clean but it didn't have any efffect I noticed, additionally considering their critical roles in reef ecosystem I wouldn't use anything that would kill them and considering how much sponge can be growing behind rocks the sudden dump of a lot of nitrogen and phosphorus from killing off all the sponge in a ssytem would be something I'd want to avoid.
 

Snoopy 67

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If it was behind the rockwork, or even under like Pineapple Sponges it would not bother me. However this Blue sponge covers everything like a carpet. It invades corals too. If it keeps going I will have a blue garden & nothing else.
 

Timfish

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I'd like to take all the credit for using straws and tubing I posted above to safely remove unwanted stuff from around corals but a competetor/freind came up with the same technique teh same time back in the 90s and I'm sure it's occured to other people. Using a small diameter straw and a 9/16" siphon hose you get a pretty good suction that should remove the sponge and not have the worry of spreading it or having any dieoff causing nutrient issues.
 
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Snoopy 67

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Still contemplating a solution here.
ChemiClean did nothing. I have pulled a great amount but there is a lot in places difficult to reach.
Steel straws are too small & the sponge is leathery and does not cut up easily.
Any other suggestions or just pull the rocks & let them air out?
 

Miami Reef

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Still contemplating a solution here.
ChemiClean did nothing. I have pulled a great amount but there is a lot in places difficult to reach.
Steel straws are too small & the sponge is leathery and does not cut up easily.
Any other suggestions or just pull the rocks & let them air out?
Paul B has the same blue sponges. He said it’s super hard in texture and no fish will eat it. I think the drying method would work (at least temporarily). If the sponges are growing on corals, I don’t think it’s possible to achieve eradication because the sponges will still survive on the wet corals.

Unless you took out all the rocks and corals and leave them in the air for like 5-10 minutes?

It’s a very tricky position to be in for sure!
 
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