How to Get Rid of Sponges in a Reef Tank? {6 Ways To Defeat Sponges}

Are looking at how to get rid of sponges in a reef tank? If you try to scrape them away, will you actually make it worse

How do you starve sponges? Which fish eat sponges?

In this article, we will discuss the topic of getting rid of sponges in your reef tank.

How to Get Rid of Sponges in a Reef Tank?

Follow these tips and read further down for detailed explanations to get rid of sponges:

  • Expose sponges in the reef tank to open air.
  • Turn down the water flow.
  • Brighten tank lights.
  • Reduce their food sources.
  • Use hydrogen peroxide.
  • Let sponge eaters consume them.

These are your best methods to eradicate them. Allow me to explain below.

Can I Manually Remove Sponges in My Reef Tank?

We advise against manual removing sponges. You may find information online that proposes either scraping off sponges or pulling them out with:

  • pliers
  • tweezers

This type of manual removal may look like you have gotten rid of your sponge problem in your reef tank, but it’s far from the truth.

You may have temporarily made your tank look better without any sponges, but:

  1. They are able to continue growing.
  2. You haven’t removed every single tiny particle from your reef tank.
  3. You may have actually spread the particles around and allowed for more future sponge growth.

Should I Take Out the Sponges Growing on Rocks?

Yes. What you are trying to do is expose the sponges in your reef tank to open air. They will rapidly dry out and die.

If you can remove decorations or rocks that contain sponge growth in your reef tank easily and successfully, then do so right now.

Even a few seconds out of the tank will drain out sponges and cause them to shrink slightly. It may form air bubbles and when you place the rocks and decorations back into the tank, the air bubbles may expand and burst.

Nearby sponge particles may also feel the effect of these air bubbles popping and cause them to stop growing.

How Do I Starve Reef Sponges?

Sponges need the tiniest sizes of food intake to be able to survive. They are not meant to live in reef tanks for a long time. The types of food that you are offering your marine life are simply too large for your sponges to absorb.

If you have proper filtration and are performing regular water changes along with vacuuming the substrate, then your sponges will simply die out over time.

You may not have to do anything at this point except play the waiting game.

YouTube video

Do Sponges Like Water Flow?

Yes. the sponges that are growing in your reef tank depend on the flow of water to be able to bring in the food to absorb it through their chambers and pores.

Turn off or turn down the:

  • air currents
  • air pump
  • air stones
  • power heads

It will be difficult for these sponges to receive the nutrition they need to continue living in your reef tank without water flowing to deliver them food sources.

The water that is flowing and circulating is actually keeping bacteria away from the sponges.

Without water flow these bacterial infections can overwork their cells, thus straining them to the point of incapability to defend itself. Soon enough, the sponges will die.

Do Sponges Like Aquarium Lights?

When we think of bright tank lights, we tend to shy away from them because we know that it will introduce algae growth. Algae itself is a nutritious form of food for many of your marine life to nibble on.

If you can manage algae growth, you may actually use it to counteract the growth of sponges in your reef tank. Algae can grow on sponges and suffocate them.

They can prevent sponges from feeding and prevent the water from flowing into their chambers.

Which Saltwater Fish Like To Eat Sponges?

Most of your marine life are not interested in eating any of the sponges that are growing in your reef tank. Thankfully there are a few sponge eaters that you can employ to help you reduce or remove this nuisance.

The following sponge eaters are not only saltwater fish but actually a wide variety of marine life:

  • Angelfish
  • Triggerfish
  • Filefish
  • Nudibranch
  • Crab
  • Sea snail
  • Sea star
  • Pencil Urchin

Your best bet at bringing in a live helper to feast on sponges is the Angelfish. The diet of an Angelfish is mostly sponges in the wild.

The only unfortunate matter is that Angelfish are also known to damage coral. If you have coral in your tank or you do not have enough room for multiple Angelfish, you may choose smaller invertebrates in the list above.

Can I Use Hydrogen Peroxide to Kill Sponges in My Reef Tank?

We tend to recommend using hydrogen peroxide as a last resort. We do not wish you to harm the rest of your marine life.

  1. Use 10 to 30% hydrogen peroxide mixed in with water from your tank and place it in a small container.
  2. Using a syringe, pull in about 1 to 2 mL of this hydrogen peroxide solution.
  3. Inject the syringe directly into the sponges in multiple areas.
  4. Make sure that you do not get any of the solution into the substrate or on any live plants.
  5. Use a tank divider, if you can, to make sure that your marine life are also safe and as far away from this procedure.

The sponges in the tank should die out within a day or two.


Open exposure to air by removing anything that has sponges growing on them is an easy solution.

Starving the sponges by reducing water flow or allowing algae to take hold on them with increased lighting will also help, but it’s a delicate matter of controlling the algae growth as well.

Hydrogen peroxide works, but you must be cautious to not disturb your plants or marine life with this potentially harmful solution.

Angelfish love eating sponges, but so do a few other marine life that you can employ in your reef tank to help with your sponge problem.


We wish you well with your reef tank ecosystem and hope that this article assists you with getting rid of sponges once and for all. Thanks for visiting and see you again soon!

Brian Arial

Brian Arial has kept fish for leisure and worked with fish stores for most of his life. He enjoys writing and caring for aquariums and ponds.