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Let's talk about sponge filters

By Leonard Ho - Posted Dec 05, 2016 09:00 AM
No; not that kind of sponge filter. I want to talk about living sponges. These sedentary animals may look passive, but they are anything but. Their active water pumping mechanism is really impressive.

sponge_feed.gifMost of us know that sponges are filter feeders, but some of us (and a large portion of the general public) think of sponges as passive organisms that essentially soak up food like, well, a sponge.  Nothing could be further from the truth!

Sponges actively pump water through their osculums (AKA "little mouths") by using an army of tiny flagella (threadlike appendages) flapping like microscopic madmen to push water through the sponges' chambers.

The drawing to the right by the Marine Education Society of Australasia shows how this mechanism works.  And the video below shows how efficiently sponges can process large volumes of water through their systems. 

Author: Leonard Ho
Location: Southern California

I'm a passionate aquarist of over 30 years, a coral reef lover, and the blog editor for Advanced Aquarist. While aquarium gadgets interest me, it's really livestock (especially fish), artistry of aquariums, and "method behind the madness" processes that captivate my attention.


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