How Do Sponges Feed?

The Sponge feed Is the mechanism by which these invertebrate animals are nourished.

It is a filtration process in which the organic particles that are dissolved in the water, are captured by a series of pores that retain them. The excretion is then performed through a larger orifice, which is called the oculus.

How sponges feed

What is the process by which sponges feed?

Feeding Sponges , Responds to its anatomical structure, which is quite simple. It consists of a cell mass in the form of a sac through which the water circulates, in which is the oxygen that allows it to breathe and the food with which it subsists.

Since sponges do not have real tissues or organs (therefore they have no digestive system, such as that of more complex living things), their only means of survival is in their pores.

The sponges do not have an active feeding, since they are sessile animals, that is to say, they are attached to the substrate where they live, like the bed of the sea, reason why they can not move of its surroundings.

As a result, sponges have a passive diet which, in other words, means that they obtain their nutrients by taking them from the surrounding environment; Environment in which they float freely.

If there is something that makes it possible to feed the sponges, it is the presence of channels that, having flagellated cameras, connect the ostiolos, which are mostly covered by the coanocitos.

It is in the ostiolos where the water is absorbed and that is why this vital liquid passes to the ossicles, where it is expelled, not before passing through the coanocitos, which is the place where the current is maintained in which the particles Of the food is trapped.

What do they feed on?

It is not possible to talk about how sponges feed themselves without saying what it is that they feed on. In advance it is discarded that of complex beings, since having no digestive system can not"eat"as other marine animals.

Thus, the simple structure of these poríferas is reduced to the capture of particles dissolved in the water, which can be organic matter, unicellular algae, debris and bacteria that are digested through the phagocytosis.

Carnivorous sponges

Only about 137 species of sponges have been found, which live in waters up to 8,840 meters deep.

They capture their prey just as they do with the organic particles: waiting for the tiny animals swimming in the ocean currents to be hooked into their pores and then wrapped and swallowed.

Because the carnivorous sponges would remain sessile, their prey would be nothing more than small mollusks and crustaceans

Stages of food

Step 1: Absorption

Sea sponges, as has been said, do not have a locomotor system, which is why they can not go where food is. In short, their structure keeps them tied to the sea and therefore they have no way to take their nutrients or to depredate large living beings.

However, its anatomy is able to capture the microscopic organic particles that allow it to survive, which are distributed by millions in the water that runs free by the sea.

Water, in this way, is the main vehicle that carries the nutrients of the sponges. This, as it circulates, carries with it the particles and microorganisms that end in one way or another by touching the surface of the pores, in whose structure are the ostioles, or external pores that absorb this liquid.

Stage 2: Processing

According to the above, this stage can not be classified as digestion because the sponges do not digest food as do the higher animals.

However, this does not mean that the porifers do not have the means to use the nutrients absorbed in the water; Rather, they process their food by the mechanism of phagocytosis, with which the organic particles are wrapped and decomposed inside.

The archaeocytes and the coanocitos are those that are in charge of phagocytizing the organic particles that penetrate through the vibratile chamber.

These particles may be large or small, but all are ultimately digested at the intracellular level after having crossed the channels that communicate the ostiolos and that are trapped in the flagellated channels.

That is to say, in the channels that have like protuberances with form of scourge or whip through which they pass to the coanocitos and arqueocitos.

Stage 3: Excretion

When the organic particles have been absorbed by the inhalant pores and captured in the flagellate channels, the coynotites and the archeocytes are responsible for digesting them by phagocytosis.

The remaining cellular waste can not remain in the body, so they must leave the sponges through a process of excretion or, rather, expulsion of those wastes. These are the result of the processing stage of microscopic nutrients.

But not everything that exits through the exhalation channel is necessarily a product of what has been digested inside the poríferas.

It is also possible that sponges, as a defense mechanism (ie have no immune system), remove particles that are too large or those inorganic particles that can not nourish them, such as grains of sand.

In any case, all this leaves the kiss and completes the feeding cycle.

In short, sponges feed like this:

  1. The pores absorb the nutrients that are in the water. These are usually microorganisms and organic particles.
  2. Flagellate channels capture nutrients. Archaeocytes and coyocytes break down the particles by phagocytosis.
  3. Waste and particles that can not be absorbed leave the kiss.


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  4. Hickman, C., Jr.; Roberts, L. and Larson, A. (2003). Animal Diversity, 3rd edition. New York: McGraw-Hill.
  5. Murphy, Richard C. (2002). Coral Reefs: Cities Under The Seas. New Jersey: The Darwin Press, Inc.
  6. Piper, Ross (2007). Extraordinary Animals: An Encyclopedia of Curious and Unusual Animals. Connecticut: Greenwood Publishing Group.
  7. Vacelet, J. and Duport, E. (2004). "Prey capture and digestion in the carnivorous sponge Asbestopluma hypogea (Porifera: Demospongiae)". Zoomorphology, 123 (4), pp. 179-190.
  8. Watling, L. (2007). "Predation on copepods by an Alaskan cladorhizid sponge". Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom, 87 (6), pp. 1721-1726.

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