Species group: Sponges
Other common names:
Scientific name: Psuedaxinella lunaecharta
This beautiful Sponge is challenging to keep, but its gorgeous coloration may be ample compensation for the extra care it requires. However, it is best to acquire experience with other delicate invertebrates before becoming a sponge owner.
The Red Ball Sponge is found throughout the Indo-Pacific region, where it lives on sandy bottoms in association with coral reefs.
Appearance / health:
Bright red coloration is typical, but yellow and orange specimens are also relatively common. The Red Ball Sponge can attain a size of 12.7 cm (5 in) across.
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. Sponges may release toxic chemicals in order to kill 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 Red Ball Sponge requires 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 22-25.5 C (72-78 F). It is critical that Sponges be positioned such that a moderate to strong water current circulates over them. 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.
In addition to the nutrients provided by symbiotic algae and bacteria, Red Ball Sponges require daily feedings of commercial liquid plankton preparations…products that provide the smallest particle size should be chosen. Important supplements include calcium, magnesium and marine trace elements.
Reproduction in the aquarium, if it occurs, will most often be by asexual budding. Free-living Sponges can also reproduce sexually.
Written by Frank Indiviglio