Q:

Why are sponges important ?

A:

Sponges are important because of their roles in recycling nutrients and the part they play in the coral reef life cycle. For instance, sponges break down complex organic material into food for other things living on the coral reefs.

Much of the organic material that algae and coral produce can't be used in its current form by other inhabitants of the coral reef because of its complexity. This is where the sponges prove useful. They can take this complex material and turn it in to something a little simpler. According to the Coral Science Organization, much of their diet consists of dissolved organic carbon. Sponges also help to lower nitrogen levels in the water and keep the ecosystem clean because bacteria found in the sponge turns this nitrogen into forms of food.

Although sponges are multi-cellular animals, they also have one of the simplest structures. Instead of soft tissues and organs, sponges have pores that bring water and nutrients into them. This water is then expelled through an opening in the top of the sponge called the osculum. Sponges attach themselves to rock, and they range widely in both color and size. Some species of sponges also ingest very small crustaceans.

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Related Questions

  • Q:

    How do sponges reproduce?

    A:

    Sponges, or poriferans, reproduce both sexually and asexually. Asexually, reproduction is achieved by way of budding, which is a process in which new sponges grow out of adult sponges. It may also be achieved asexually by fragmentation, in which a detached piece of an adult sponge develops into a new organism.

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  • Q:

    Where do sponges come from?

    A:

    Sea sponges are animals that live on the ocean floor. After human beings harvest and dry them, the sponges serve as the household tool many people use to bathe and wash dishes and cars, among other items.

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  • Q:

    What type of symmetry do sponges have?

    A:

    Some sponges have radial symmetry, but many species are irregular in shape and have no symmetry at all. Two simpler groups of sponges, known as asconoid and syconoid sponges, often have radial symmetry, but members of the most complex group, leuconoid sponges, have no symmetry.

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  • Q:

    What do sea sponges eat?

    A:

    Most sea sponges are detrivorous, meaning they consume organic debris and various microbes that drift through ocean currents. Harp sponges, however, are carnivorous and use hooks located on their arms to catch shrimp and other small animals.

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