Sponges vs Corals: Difference and Comparison

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 invertebrate 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.

Key Takeaways

  1. Sponges are simple aquatic animals that filter water to obtain food and oxygen, while corals are marine animals that form colonies and secrete calcium carbonate to form a hard exoskeleton.
  2. Sponges have a soft, porous body, while corals have a hard, rock-like exterior.
  3. Sponges are found in freshwater and saltwater habitats, while corals are found only in saltwater habitats.

Sponges vs Corals

Sponges are multicellular animals that lack tissues and organs. Their porous body allows water to flow through and filter out food particles. Corals are marine invertebrates that form colonies. They have a hard exoskeleton made of calcium carbonate in various shapes and colors.

Sponges vs Corals

Sponges are multicellular aquatic species and are organ-less since such animals belong to the 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

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 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.

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As the name implies, sponges have many pours on the body, allowing simple water passage, and have a layer of a 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, digestive, 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 comparison to Sponges, their body structure is more complicated, resembling intestines or bladders.

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

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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 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 in 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, and they 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 shallow and deep water, whereas corals cannot live in deep oceans and prefer to stay in shallower waters.
Difference Between Sponges and Corals
  1. https://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/abs/10.2307/1541563
  2. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/iroh.200410759

Last Updated : 11 June, 2023

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6 thoughts on “Sponges vs Corals: Difference and Comparison”

  1. This article provides a very clear comparison between these two groups of animals, making their differences very easy to understand.

  2. This article is a great source of knowledge regarding the differences between sponges and corals. It was very informative.

  3. The differences and similarities between sponges and corals were well explained in this article – a very comprehensive read!

  4. It is very interesting to note how sponges and corals, despite being very different, are both invertebrates with unique characteristics.


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