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Tree Sponge

(Ptilocaulis sp.)

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 Quick Care Facts

• Care Level: Difficult   • Temperament: Peaceful   • Maximum Size: Varies
• Diet: Omnivore (filter feeder)   • Aquarium Level: Substrate & Rocks   • Minimum Tank Size: 90 gallons
 • Reef Compatible: Yes   • Water Conditions: 72-78° F, dKH 8-12, pH 8.1-8.4, sg 1.023-1.025
• Supplements: Dissolved Organic Foods   • Coloration: Red, Orange
• Origin: Caribbean • Family: Axinellidae   • Species: Sponges

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Native Habitat and Species Information

Tree Sponge native habitat, distribution, behavior & aquarium compatibility.

The Tree Sponge of the genus Ptilocaulis is normally red or orange in color and has a shape that is very similar to that of a tree which includes a main trunk with several branches. The Tree Sponge is usually found on lower portions of the reef or located on or near a rock directly in the sandy bottom.

In the wild this species is typically found in the lower sandy areas of the reef where it catches planktonic foods from the water currents. The Tree Sponge thrives in areas of the reef where it benefits from strong currents and low lighting levels.

Aquarium Care

How to successfully keep Tree Sponge in the home aquarium.

This species needs strong indirect water currents near its location in order to provide access to planktonic foods, but care should be taken to not place the sponge directly in the path of a constant water flow so that it only receives a strong indirect current. The Tree Sponge requires only low lighting levels and therefore can be comfortably placed in lower areas of the reef or directly on the substrate.

The Tree Sponge requires excellent water quality and should only be attempted in an established reef aquarium All sponges, including the Tree Sponge require some very special care in order to survive in the home aquarium. The most critical concern is that the Tree Sponge should never be exposed to the air, as the air becomes trapped in the matrix of channels that line the inside of its body. With air blocking the path for planktonic food to reach its cells, the sponge will basically starve.

Feeding & Nutrition

How to feed and provide proper nutrition for Tree Sponge.

The Tree Sponge uses cells lining its body to ingest planktonic foods that are floating in the water currents. In the home aquarium the diet of the Tree Sponge should be supplemented with feedings of substitute plankton or other foods designed for filter feeding invertebrates.

Additional Information


Sponges should never be exposed to air as this will cause air to become trapped in the matrix of channels that line the inside of its body, which effectively blocks the path for planktonic food to reach its cells and it will basically starve.

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