Orange tree sponges are rare sponges found mostly in the Caribbean and the Bahamas. They live in up to 80-foot-deep water at the tops of cliff ledges within the coral reefs. These unique sponges can grow up to 15 inches in height and are highly susceptible to damage to all direct forms of air.
Orange tree sponges are some of the simplest organisms found on the planet, without any individual organs or tissue. They are shaped like small trees and are highly non-aggressive, and have no pre-determined lifespan. Orange tree sponges can potentially live forever in a clean, healthy environment.
Orange tree sponges live in a regulated saltwater specific for reef aquariums. They must contain the unique trace elements and a balanced pH level. Using regular saltwater not formulated for reefs requires adding pH and calcium buffers prior to introducing to the sponge into the water.
Oxygen and other gases make it impossible for orange tree sponges to filter their food from water. Exposure to even small factors of air can block circulation and kill the entire organism through starvation. Transporting these rare sponges involves transferring each organism between tanks while keeping them entirely submerged.
Orange tree sponges obtain food, such as phytoplankton, from their water as it flows past them. Filtering this water is the only way these stationary organisms receive nutrition. This enables them to feed without expending extra energy searching and fighting for food.
To regulate feeding and to maintain a natural habitat, reef aquariums need to have a medium level of constantly moving water in the tank. Circulating water is the only way to ensure that the orange tree sponge continues to feed. Also, light should be muted to protect the organism from possible light damage.