As the characteristics of invertebrates' native waters are radically different from those of the tank in which they will be placed, great care must be taken with respect to their acclimatization. The container in which the new arrival has been transported must be gradually filled with water from its future aquarium, to enable the invertebrate to slowly adapt before it is carefully transferred into its new habitat. The whole process takes about 1 hour. A quarantine period in an acclimatization tank is recommended. When handling invertebrates, be aware of the stinging capability of some species (such as anemones and madreporites).
Sponges enjoy shadows or darkness as they can only tolerate a small amount of light. They do not like water with a high content of nitrates or filamentous algae, which smother them. They reproduce, either sexually - rarely achieved in an aquarium - or through asexual division, with a detached piece of sponge evolving into a new specimen. A sponge is a kind of "sack" devoid of any specialized organs. Water penetrates the walls, circulates in the canals, as a result of the movements of thousands of strands protecting the cells, and leaves via the opening in the top. The water provides oxygen and the particles on which the sponge feeds, particularly the micro-algae of phytoplankton.
Removing a sponge from water has fatal consequences, as air bubbles enter the canals where the water circulates and block them. The sponge, unable to eliminate the bubbles, eventually dies. Sponges are fed in the same way as Coe-lenterates, with a preparation based on mussels, or special liquids available commercially from specialist suppliers.
The Coelenterates constitute a complex group (see table, page 171). They include the Anthozoa, which are divided into hexacorals, where the number of tentacles is a multiple of 6, and octocorals, where the number of tentacles is a multiple of 8. The hexacorals are divided into:
- Actiniaria (true anemones);
- Zoantharia (colonial anemones);
- Corallimorpharia (discus anemones);
- Scleractinia (madreporites or true corals).
These invertebrates are characterized by tentacles attached to a foot, and the whole organism is called a polyp. Anemones and Ceriantharia are isolated polyps, while the other Anthozoa are colonial polyps, connected to each other at their base, which end up by spreading out over large areas like certain plants.
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