Species group: Sponges
Other common names: Azure Cup Sponge
Scientific name: Callyspongia plicifera
This gorgeous, deep-water sponge is on the “must have” lists of sponge aficionados worldwide. A delicate captive, it is one of the world’s most colorful species.
The Azure Vase Sponge has been found off the coasts of Florida and the Bahamas, and in scattered locations throughout the Caribbean Sea. It occupies coral reefs at depths of up to 18 meters (60 feet).
Appearance / health:
The uniquely vase-shaped body is covered with grooves, ridges and pits. Its pink, blue or purple coloration appears somewhat florescent. In the aquarium, Azure Vase Sponges generally top out at 30 cm (12 in) in height and 14 cm (6 in) across, but they may grow much larger in the wild.
Exposure to air, inadequate lighting, starvation, and a lack of suitably-strong currents are the most common causes of sponge deaths. Air trapped within the cells prevents food and oxygen from circulating, while low light levels inhibit the growth of symbiotic algae and bacteria. Extreme care must be taken when choosing tank-mates for sponges, as they may release toxic chemicals when seeking to displace competing sponges, anemones and coral.
Behavior / temperament:
Sponges are stationary and feed continuously by filtering water through their bodies.
They are aggressive towards one another, corals, anemones and other sessile invertebrates, and may poison fish which attempt to eat them.
The Azure Vase Sponge requires moderately-strong lighting so that the symbiotic algae and bacteria which provide it with important nutrients can thrive. The water should be well-oxygenated, ammonia and nitrite-free, and in the range of 22-23.8 C (72-75 F). It is critical that Sponges be positioned so that they receive indirect flow from moderate to strong water currents. The aquarium should be provisioned with live sand and live rock, which will provide supplementary food in the form of micro-organisms.
The following water quality parameters should be maintained in order to assure long-term health: Specific Gravity (Salinity): 1.023-1.025; pH: 8.1-8.4; Alkalinity 8-12 dKH.
Azure Vase Sponges require daily feedings of commercial liquid plankton preparations. As they can ingest only the tiniest of micro-organisms, products that provide minute particles should be chosen. Important supplements include calcium, magnesium and marine trace elements.
Reproduction in the aquarium is by asexual budding. Free-living Sponges can also reproduce sexually.
Written by Frank Indiviglio