Red Tree Sponge, Ptilocaulis sp, are a fairly common sponge from Florida and the Caribbean characterized by their bright red and orange color and tree like shape. We collect two main species, on of which has rough sides and is found along the reef line, and one that has smooth sides and is found inshore and in the Gulf of Mexico. They inhabit primarily deeper water, and don’t seem to occur in water shallower than about 20″. Most of the nano ones we sell are the smooth skinned ones from inshore and the Gulf of Mexico,
Sponges are filter feeders, primarily feeding on bacteria and dissolved organics, so they can be a little challenging to keep in some reef tanks. If not fed regularly with some sort of planktonic food, the will slowly starve to death in most reef tanks, so be prepared to feed them on a regular basis. Most sponges will have a small amount of substrate attached to their bases which can be superglued or epoxied to a rock so they will stay put in your aquarium. You can also wedge the sponge into a crack in the rockwork of your tank, but I would not recommend “planting” them in the sand because the base may end up dying. Contrary to everything youll read about sponges, these sponges can be safely removed from the water and exposed to air for brief periods of time without any lasting damages. We’ve handled thousands of these sponges over the last 30 years and most have been exposed to the air for brief periods of time without any problems, so don’t make a huge deal about not letting the sponge touch the air while you move it from tank to tank or while you mount it on a rock.
The target size for the tree sponges we ship is about >3.5 to 7 inches tall and it will have several branches. The sponges are wrapped in paper towels and submerged in water for shipping and they generally ship real well and will do well in your tank.