Difference Between Sponges and Corals

Animals are categorized into two groups: vertebrates and invertebrates.

Cold-blooded creatures with no backbone are known as invertebrates that can reside either on land or underwater depending on their body form and the environment to which they adapt.

Insects and worms are examples of land invertebrates, whereas crabs and other such species are examples of marine invertebrates that live in water.

Sponges and Corals are both grouped into invertebrates’ animals that live in water. Even though they are both marine species, they are part of separate animal families, the phylum Porifer and the phylum Cnidaria, respectively.

Sponges vs Corals

The main difference between Sponges and Corals is that Sponges have a shape that is similar to that of plants and animals and shares close relations with Diploblastic organisms which are grouped in a comb-like pattern, while Corals have a structure similar to intestines or tubes, though both are multicellular organisms.

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Sponges are multicellular aquatic species and are organ-less. Since such animals belong to phylum Porifer.

As the name suggests, the entire body is covered with pores and has a layer of Mesohyl within for the efficient flow of water. These species can be found in both fresh as well as salty water.

Corals are multicellular organisms that are linked to other marine animals, such as Jellyfish, and adhere to the phylum Cnidaria family. They live in warm waters and have more complex bodies than Sponges.

Corals play a vital role in the formation of Coral Reefs (provide shelter to marine organisms) by secreting Calcium carbonate.

Comparison Table Between Sponges and Corals

Parameters of ComparisonSpongesCorals
Animal FamilySponges are part of the phylum Porifer animal family.Corals are part of the phylum cnidaria animal family.
Level of WaterSponges, the multicellular animals live in both shallow levels of water as well as in deep water that can either be fresh or saltwater.Corals, the multicellular animals live in the normal level of water which is usually warm.
Shape of Marine SpeciesSponges look-alike plants and animals.Corals look similar to a sack (intestine or like a pouch).
LocationThere are many types of places where sponges live, including Arctic, Tropical, and Subtropical regions.Corals are present in Tropical and subtropical regions in warm water near an equator.
TentaclesSponges don’t have tentacles (limbs especially around the mouth ) used for moving.Corals consist of Tentacles without any internal organs.

What are Sponges?

Sponges are invertebrates with no organs and no tentacles that live in the sea. Sponges come in a variety of shapes, including symmetrical and asymmetrical.

Sponges, as the name implies, have many pours on the body allowing simple water passage, and have a layer of comb-like structure called Mesohyl.

Because such oceanic creatures are unable to move or propel themselves, they remain stationary(sessile).

Sponges are formed up of spicules (silica or calcium) and belong to the kingdom Animalia’s phylum Porifer. They are found in tropical, sub-tropical, and arctic climates in all types of fresh and saltwater, whether cold or warm.

Since these animals lack a nervous system, digestive system, or circulatory system, the pores on their bodies are essential for obtaining food from water.

Sponges are mostly hermaphrodites (meaning they have both male and female organs to generate eggs and sperms) and can reproduce sexually or asexually, albeit they are sessile.

Despite being hermaphrodites, they produce one type of sexual cell known as Gametes, which contains both parents’ genetic information.

Male Sponges discharge sperm into the water through a huge aperture (osculum) during the process of reproduction, and the sperm floats towards female Sponges to reproduce.

What are Corals?

Corals are invertebrates that lack organs such as the heart but have tentacles. In compared to Sponges, their body structure is more complicated, resembling intestine or bladders.

Because these species are able to move, they feed on zooplankton by stretching their lengthy tentacles at night. The mouth is at the middle of their body, surrounded by several limbs.

Algae found beneath the water serve as a food supply for them. Tentacles not only help in grasping food but also protects corals from predators.

Corals belong to the phylum cnidaria and can only be found in warm water around the equator in sub-tropical and tropical climates. Underwater, these aquatic critters live with other creatures, although they appear to be alone.

Pillar Corals, Staghorn Corals, Black Corals, Stony Corals, Blue Corals, and Branch Corals are a few types of Corals.

An underwater ecosystem known as coral reefs that provides food and shelter to marine life is generated with the help of calcium carbonate released by particularly Stony Corals.

In terms of reproduction, corals, like sponges, are typically hermaphrodites (meaning they have both male and female organs to form eggs and sperms).

These species can reproduce in a variety of ways, including spawning (producing vast numbers of offspring), budding (similar to flora reproduction), and parthenogenesis (giving birth without fertilization).

Main Differences Between Sponges and Corals

  1. Sponges cannot move and stay at one place under the water because they do not have tentacles (limbs that help the body to make a movement. Corals, on the other hand, have tentacles (limbs) that assist them to capture food and keep predators at bay.
  2. Both Sponges and Corals consist of multiple cells but do not have a single organ, still belong to different animal families. Sponges come from the phylum Porifera and Corals are from the phylum cnidaria.
  3. Sponges have the ability to create harmful substances to defend themselves against other species, whereas corals do not.
  4. Sponges tend to appear as other flora and fauna, however, the shape of Corals is like sacs
  5. Sponges can live in both shallow and deep water, whereas corals cannot live in deep oceans and so prefer to stay in shallower waters.
Difference Between Sponges and Corals

Conclusion

Even though both Sponges and Corals are multicellular marine species, they come from separate animal families and have diverse structural and shapes.

Since Sponges lack limbs, they rely on the pores on their bodies to extract food. Limbs are useful for capturing food and keeping attackers at bay in the case of Corals.

Furthermore, Sponges can live in both warm and cold water in all places, whereas Corals can only be found towards the equator in the tropic or sub tropic region, where the water is warmer and shallower.

In order to produce offspring, both types of aquatic creatures (Sponges and Corals)  can reproduce sexually and asexually.

References

  1. https://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/abs/10.2307/1541563
  2. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/iroh.200410759
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