Skip to Content

How To Deal With White Sponge On Live Rock!

As more and more aquarium keepers start to integrate live rock into their aquariums, the number of questions that we see people asking about maintaining live constantly increases.

Although live rock is an excellent feature to have in your tank, it can be challenging even for an experienced fish keeper due to it being such a sensitive feature to correctly maintain.

This is why we constantly see people reaching out with questions each month and one of the more commonly asked questions that we have seen people asking is about having white sponge on their live rock.

Now, some people will intentionally put various types of sponge in their tanks but if the white sponge on your live rock is not there by choice, it can sometimes be problematic to remove, especially if your live rock has been left to grow in.

Due to the various factors involved in removing white sponge from live rock, we wanted to publish our own dedicated article on the topic.

Our hope is that we will be able to help as many of our readers as possible and allow you to quickly and easily remove the sponge from your live rock without risking any of the other coral or bacteria growing on the rock.

What Is The White Stuff Growing On My Live Rock?

The majority of the time, the white sponge that tends to grow on rock is pineapple sponge and it actually offers a number of benefits to some reef tanks due to it being a filter feeder.

Some people will keep the sponge in their tank provide it doesn’t start to interfere with their corals as it can help to maintain water parameters.

There are a few other less common white sponges that can grow from some un-eaten tropical fish foods, especially foods designed for angelfish.

These tend to look more like white blood vessels growing over your live rock and most people will simply scrape it off the live rock as it can start to cause issues.

A pineapple sponge is much easier to identify though as it will actually start to grow to look like a small, white pineapple on your live rock rather than constantly growing over the surface of the live rock.

Depending on exactly what you are doing with your tank, you can probably leave it in there with minimal issues and a large chance of the white sponge actually helping the water parameters a little.

What Causes Sponges On Live Rock?

The most common causes of unintended sponge growing on your live rock is due to accidentally adding spores when adding other fish, plants, corals or substrate.

Less common causes of sponge is due to certain types of fish food containing spores and spores landing in your tank from other tanks that you may have.

Some people will take a more DIY approach to adding live rock to their tanks too and if you go out and get random rocks from the beach or your local lake or river then there may be spores on the rock already.

This does tend to be more obvious though as the sponge will usually grow in quicker than anything else in the tank so you are able to get a good idea on if you added the sponge accidentally or if it was already on the rock.

As we touched on earlier in the article, some people will intentionally keep sponges in their tanks for their filtration capabilities as well as their unique looks. If you get a plant sample from a friend who has a sponge in his tank then the spores can transfer that way too.

How Do I Get Rid Of White Sponges On My Live Rock?

Most types of sponge are very easy to remove and you can simply scrape them off your live rock and be done with it.

Some types of sponge may need you to fully strip your live rock to prevent a full contamination of your tank but this is very rare due to it usually being easy to see the sponge setting in and you having plenty of time to scrape it off if you don’t want it.

If you do get a sponge that looks like veins running all over your live rock then try to scrape it off as best you can. provided you catch it early enough, you should be able to get the majority of it off without issue and it usually won’t come back either.

Unfortunately, if the sponge has had a chance to set in then you may have to do a deep clean on your live rock.

We go over the process in our article on drying live rock but the process will usually force you to start your live rock from scratch so it really is worth trying to scrape the sponge off as best you can.

Are Sponges Bad For Live Rock?

Sponges are not necessarily bad for live rock with some of them actually being beneficial to your aquarium as they can be great for filtering some types of impurities out of your water.

The problem is that some types of sponges will start to interfere with your corals and live plants that you intentionally added to your tank.

As we touched on above though, some people will add a number of different types of sponge to their reef tanks. This is why so many people who do end up with white sponge on their live rock keep it once they discover the potential benefits that pineapple sponge offers them.

Other people will strictly stick to the plants that they added to their tanks and remove anything that they have not intentionally put in there.

Due to it being relatively common for sponge spores to accidentally make it into tanks without it being intended, this will often include the majority of types of sponge being purge from an aquarium due to the owner wanting to stick to their original picks rather than the sponge being bad for the tank.


That brings our article going over having white sponge on live rock to an end. Although many people initially think that it is a bad situation to be in, it is often not as bad as most people think. Most types of sponge are very easy to remove from your live rock by simply scraping it off and it is very rare that you will have to do a deep clean of your live rock to fully remove it.