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Sycon – Anatomy, Diagram, Habitat, Nutrition, Reproduction

What is Sycon?

  • Sycon, a genus of calcareous sponges within the family Sycettidae, is known for its tube-shaped structure and small size, typically reaching lengths of 2.5 to 7.5 cm. These sponges are often white to cream in color and are recognized by aquarium enthusiasts as “Pineapple” or “Q-Tip” sponges. They are frequently introduced accidentally into aquariums as hitchhikers.
  • Belonging to the phylum Porifera, sponges like Sycon are marine organisms that attach themselves to rocks, corals, and mollusk shells. With approximately 5000 living species worldwide, sponges are divided into three groups based on the presence or composition of spicules or spongin. Sycon, commonly known as purse sponge, is primarily found in temperate regions and exhibits a sedentary lifestyle.
  • A distinctive anatomical feature of Sycon is its canal system, which includes water channels that penetrate the body. This system allows for water circulation and feeding, as sponges are filter feeders. The genus Sycon is classified as a subfamily under Sycettidae, which itself belongs to the phylum Porifera.
  • The tube-shaped structure of Sycon, often reaching heights of 3 inches, is complemented by crown-shaped spicules, leading to its alternate names of crown sponge, Q-tip sponge, or “Pineapple” sponge. The global diversity of sponges includes the three main types: Calcarea, Hexactinellida, and Demospongiae.

Definition of Sycon

Sycon is a genus of small, tube-shaped calcareous sponges from the family Sycettidae, commonly found attached to rocks, corals, and mollusc shells in shallow, temperate marine waters.


Sycon Classification

Sycon is a genus of calcareous sponges within the broader classification system of the animal kingdom. Understanding its classification helps scientists study its evolutionary relationships, ecological interactions, and anatomical features. Here is the detailed classification of Sycon:

  1. Kingdom: Animalia
    • Sycon belongs to the kingdom Animalia, which includes all multicellular organisms that are heterotrophic, meaning they rely on consuming organic substances for nourishment.
  2. Phylum: Porifera
    • The phylum Porifera, commonly known as sponges, encompasses about 5000 species. These organisms are characterized by the presence of numerous pores throughout their bodies, which are essential for their filter-feeding mechanism.
    • Examples of Porifera: Sycon, Leucosolenia, Euplectella, Hyalonema.
  3. Class: Calcarea
    • Sponges in the class Calcarea have skeletons made of calcium carbonate. This class is one of the three main classes within the phylum Porifera, each distinguished by the composition of their skeletal elements.
    • Other Classes of Porifera:
      • Hexactinellida: Skeletons made of silica. Example: Hyalonema.
      • Demospongiae: Skeletons made of spongin or silica. Example: Euspongia.
  4. Order: Heterocoela
    • Within the class Calcarea, Sycon belongs to the order Heterocoela, which includes sponges with a more complex canal system than those in simpler orders.
  5. Family: Sycettidae
    • The family Sycettidae encompasses sponges that typically exhibit a simple tubular structure and belong to the order Heterocoela. These sponges have calcareous spicules that support their structure.
  6. Genus: Sycon
    • The genus Sycon is characterized by its tube-shaped body, typically ranging from 2.5 to 7.5 cm in height. These sponges are often referred to as crown sponges due to the arrangement of their spicules in a crown-like formation. They are also known as Q-tip or “Pineapple” sponges because of their distinctive appearance.
Classification LevelDescriptionExample
KingdomAnimaliaAll multicellular, heterotrophic organisms.
PhylumPoriferaIncludes about 5000 species of sponges characterized by numerous pores. Examples: Sycon, Leucosolenia, Euplectella, Hyalonema.
ClassCalcareaSponges with skeletons made of calcium carbonate. Examples: Sycon.
OrderHeterocoelaSponges with a more complex canal system.
FamilySycettidaeSimple tubular sponges with calcareous spicules.
GenusSyconTube-shaped sponges, 2.5 to 7.5 cm in height, white to cream in color, often referred to as crown sponges, Q-tip sponges, or “Pineapple” sponges.

Habit and Habitat of Sycon


Sycon sponges exhibit both solitary and colonial lifestyles. These marine organisms are often found attached to solid substrates such as shells, rocks, corals, and mollusks.

  1. Solitary/Colonial Life:
    • Sycon sponges can live individually or in colonies. In colonial forms, multiple sponges are connected, sharing a common base.
  2. Attachment to Substrates:
    • These sponges are sessile, meaning they are fixed in one place and attach themselves to solid surfaces like rocks and shells.
  3. Location:
    • Sycons prefer locations with slow-wave action and low tides, which provide a stable environment with less disturbance.
    • They are commonly found on the underside of rocks in protected areas, living among other marine organisms such as hydroids and bryozoans.
    • Some species of Sycon also resemble seaweeds, growing in similar habitats.


Sycon sponges inhabit various marine environments, primarily in temperate regions. Their habitats are characterized by specific features that support their growth and survival. Key aspects of their habitat include:

  1. Habitat Region:
    • Temperature: Sycons thrive in regions between 23.5 degrees North and 60 degrees North, which corresponds to temperate zones.
    • Location: They are primarily found in oceans, seas, and other bodies of saltwater.
  2. Aquatic Biomes:
    • Benthic Zone:
      • Sycon sponges live at the bottom of bodies of water, in the benthic zone, where they attach to substrates.
    • Reef:
      • They are found in reef habitats, which are structures formed by calcium carbonate skeletons of coral polyps.
    • Coastal:
      • Sycons inhabit nearshore areas, in the coastal zone, where conditions are suitable for their growth.
  3. Other Habitat Features:
    • Intertidal or Littoral Zone:
      • Sycon sponges are often found in the littoral zone, the area of the shoreline influenced by tides. This zone provides a dynamic environment with varying conditions that Sycons can tolerate and thrive in.

Characteristics of Sycon

Sycon is a genus of calcareous sponges known for its distinct anatomical and functional features. Understanding these characteristics provides insight into the structure and life processes of these marine organisms.

Structural Characteristics

  1. Body Shape:
    • Cylindrical and Tubular: Sycon sponges have a cylindrical, tubular body that is symmetrical in all directions. This shape facilitates their attachment to substrates and aids in efficient water flow through their bodies.
  2. Osculum:
    • Single Large Opening: The osculum is a prominent, single opening at the top of the sponge, through which water exits after circulating through the sponge’s body.
  3. Ostia:
    • Microscopic Pores: Ostia are tiny pores on the surface of the sponge that allow water to enter the body. These pores are distributed evenly, aiding in the sponge’s filter-feeding mechanism.
  4. Canal System:
    • Water Circulation: Sycon sponges possess a complex canal system comprising radial, excurrent, and incurrent canals. This system is crucial for maintaining water flow through the sponge, facilitating feeding, respiration, and waste removal.
  5. Spongocoel:
    • Central Cavity: The spongocoel is the central cavity within the sponge where water is temporarily stored before being expelled through the osculum. This cavity plays a key role in the sponge’s filter-feeding process.
  6. Choanocytes:
    • Specialized Cells: The inner surface of Sycon sponges is lined with choanocytes, also known as collar cells. These cells have flagella that create water currents, trapping food particles and aiding in nutrient absorption.

Reproductive Characteristics

  1. Sexual Reproduction:
    • Gamete Formation: Sycon sponges can reproduce sexually by producing gametes. Fertilization often occurs in the water column, where sperm from one sponge fertilizes the eggs of another.
  2. Asexual Reproduction:
    • Budding and Regeneration: In addition to sexual reproduction, Sycon sponges can reproduce asexually through processes such as budding and regeneration. Budding involves the formation of new individuals from outgrowths of the parent sponge, while regeneration allows sponges to recover and regrow from fragments.

Diagram of Sycon

Diagram of Sycon
Diagram of Sycon
Diagram of Sycon
Diagram of Sycon
Diagram of Sycon
Diagram of Sycon

Structure of Sycon/Anatomy of Sycon With Diagram

Longitudinal Section (L.S.) of Sycon (LS of Sycon)

Longitudinal Section (L.S.) of Sycon (LS of Sycon)
Longitudinal Section (L.S.) of Sycon (LS of Sycon)
  1. Body Wall:
    • The body wall of Sycon is diploblastic, meaning it consists of two primary layers: an outer ectodermal (dermal) epithelial layer and an inner gastric epithelial layer (endoderm).
    • Between these two layers lies a non-cellular mesenchyme layer interspersed with monaxon and triaxon spicules.
  2. Dermal Epithelium:
    • Composed of flat cells called pinacocytes, the dermal epithelium is perforated by tiny pores known as ostia.
  3. Canal System:
    • Ostia: These microscopic pores allow water to enter the sponge.
    • Incurrent Canals: Water enters through the ostia into these canals.
    • Radial Canals: Water then passes through prosopyles into radial canals lined with specialized cells called choanocytes. These cells facilitate filter feeding.
    • Excurrent Canals: Radial canals lead to smaller excurrent canals lined with pinacocytes.
    • Spongocoel: Finally, water flows into the central cavity, known as the spongocoel, before exiting through the osculum.
  4. Canal System Type:
    • Sycon possesses a syconoid canal system, characterized by its complex network of canals aiding in water circulation and filter feeding.

Transverse Section (T.S.) of Sycon (TS of Sycon)

Transverse Section (T.S.) of Sycon (TS of Sycon)
Transverse Section (T.S.) of Sycon (TS of Sycon)
  1. Body Wall:
    • Similar to the longitudinal section, the body wall in a transverse section is diploblastic, with an outer dermal layer and an inner gastric layer.
    • The gastric layer contains mesenchyme with interspersed spicules and is lined internally with flat pinacocyte cells.
  2. Dermal Layer:
    • Also made up of flat pinacocytes and perforated by ostia, facilitating water entry.
  3. Canal System:
    • The ostia lead into incurrent canals, which connect to radial canals via prosopyles.
    • Radial canals, lined with choanocytes, lead to excurrent canals, which are lined by pinacocytes and open into the spongocoel.
  4. Syconoid Canal System:
    • This complex canal system supports filter feeding and efficient water movement through the sponge.

Detailed Structural Components

  1. Cylindrical Body:
    • Sycon sponges have a cylindrical, tubular body structure.
    • The outer layer, or dermis, covers the body wall, while the inner layer, or coenoderm, lines the interior.
  2. Osculum:
    • The cylindrical body terminates in an osculum, a large opening through which water exits the sponge.
  3. Ostia:
    • The body wall is perforated with numerous small pores called ostia, allowing water to enter and flow through the sponge.
  4. Spongocoel:
    • The central cavity within the sponge, known as the spongocoel, collects water before it is expelled through the osculum.
  5. Spicules:
    • Sycon sponges have skeletal structures called spicules, made of silica or calcium carbonate, providing structural support.

Canal System of Sycon

Sycon sponges possess a unique and complex canal system, known as the syconoid canal system, which is more advanced than the asconoid type. This system is integral to their physiological processes, including feeding, respiration, and waste removal. The canal system in Sycon sponges facilitates efficient water flow through their bodies, enabling them to filter feed and maintain their cellular functions.

Composition and Structure of the Canal System

  1. Ostia:
    • Dermal Pores: Ostia are tiny openings on the surface of the sponge, lined by thin membranes.
    • Function: These pores allow water to enter the sponge’s body. The flow of water through the ostia is regulated by myocytes, which are contractile cells that can open and close the pores.
  2. Spongocoel (Paragastric or Gastric Cavity):
    • Central Cavity: The spongocoel is a large central cavity into which water flows after passing through the canal system.
    • Lining: Its walls are lined with pinacocytes, which are flattened cells of ectodermal origin.
    • Osculum: Water exits the sponge through the osculum, an opening surrounded by a layer of contractile cells known as myocytes, which function as sphincters.
  3. Radial Canals:
    • Evaginations of the Body Wall: These are finger-like projections of the body wall that extend into the spongocoel.
    • Lining: The walls of radial canals are lined with choanocytes (collar cells) that create water currents and capture food particles.
    • Function: Radial canals connect with the spongocoel through excurrent canals, facilitating water movement within the sponge.
  4. Incurrent Canals:
    • Tubular Structures: Located between successive radial canals, forming an alternating pattern.
    • Blind Ends: The inner ends of the incurrent canals are closed, and their walls are lined with pinacocytes.
    • Gastral Cortex: A thickened layer of mesoglea (a gelatinous substance) is found between the radial and incurrent canals.
  5. Prosopyles:
    • Minute Pores: These small openings connect the incurrent canals to the radial canals.
    • Intercellular Channels: Prosopyles are formed by cylindrical, thick-walled cells called porocytes, which regulate water flow into the radial canals.
  6. Excurrent Canals:
    • Short and Wide Canals: These channels carry water from the radial canals to the spongocoel.
    • Lining: They are lined with pinacocytes and facilitate the passage of water towards the central cavity.
  7. Apopyles:
    • Openings: These are the exit points of the radial canals into the spongocoel, encircled by contractile myocytes that control their openings.

Functionality of the Canal System

The canal system in Sycon sponges is designed to maximize the efficiency of water flow through their bodies. Here’s how it works:

  1. Water Entry:
    • Water enters through the ostia, which are regulated by myocytes.
  2. Water Movement:
    • From the ostia, water flows into the incurrent canals.
    • It then passes through the prosopyles into the radial canals.
  3. Filtration and Feeding:
    • Choanocytes in the radial canals create water currents and filter out food particles.
  4. Water Exit:
    • Water moves from the radial canals into the excurrent canals.
    • Finally, it enters the spongocoel and exits through the osculum.

Current Of Water in Sycon

Water circulation in Sycon, a type of marine sponge, is a crucial process for its survival, enabling it to feed, respire, and excrete waste products. The flow of water through the body of Sycon follows a specific pathway, facilitated by its unique canal system and the action of specialized cells.

Current Of Water in Sycon
Current Of Water in Sycon

Pathway of Water Flow

  1. Entry through Ostia:
    • Ostia: These are numerous microscopic pores located on the external surface of the sponge.
    • Function: Water enters the sponge through these ostia, initiating the flow of water into the body.
  2. Incurrent Canals:
    • Structure: Once water enters through the ostia, it moves into the incurrent canals.
    • Role: These canals serve as conduits that channel water towards the internal structures of the sponge.
  3. Prosopyles:
    • Definition: Small openings called prosopyles connect the incurrent canals to the radial canals.
    • Function: Water passes through these prosopyles to reach the radial canals.
  4. Radial Canals:
    • Structure: The radial canals are lined with choanocytes, which are specialized cells equipped with flagella.
    • Role of Choanocytes: The flagella of choanocytes beat in a coordinated manner, creating a water current that draws water into the radial canals and facilitates its movement.
    • Water Flow: From the radial canals, water flows into the spongocoel through openings known as apopyles.
  5. Spongocoel:
    • Definition: The spongocoel is the central cavity of the sponge.
    • Function: It acts as a shared chamber where all the radial canals open into, collecting the water before it exits the sponge.
  6. Exit through Osculum:
    • Osculum: This is a single, large opening at the top of the sponge.
    • Function: Water exits the sponge through the osculum, completing the circulation process.

Mechanism of Water Flow

  • Choanocytes and Flagella: The beating of the flagella on the choanocytes creates a steady current that drives the water through the sponge’s canal system. This action not only draws water into the sponge but also propels it through the various canals and eventually out through the osculum.
  • Water Movement: The flow of water brings in oxygen and nutrients while carrying away carbon dioxide and waste products. This continuous circulation is essential for the sponge’s metabolic processes.

Microscopic Organization of Sycon

Under the microscope, the structure of Sycon reveals a fascinating array of specialized cells and structures that contribute to its unique biology and function within marine ecosystems.

Outer Surface and Dermal Layer

  1. Pinacocytes:
    • Location: Cover the outer surface of the sponge.
    • Function: Provide protection and support. Spicules seem to emerge from this layer.

Canal System and Choanocytes

  1. Radial Canals:
    • Lining: Covered by collar cells or choanocytes.
    • Structure: Each choanocyte has a flagellum and a collar-like structure.
    • Function: Generate water currents for feeding and gas exchange.
  2. Spongocoel:
    • Lining: Endodermal cells line the spongocoel.
    • Function: Collect water before it exits through the osculum.

Spicules and Mesenchyme

  1. Spicules:
    • Composition: Made of calcium carbonate.
    • Structure: Tetraradiate or triradiate spicules for structural support.
    • Origin: Arise from scleroblasts and safeguard delicate parts of the sponge.
  2. Mesenchyme:
    • Composition: Gelatinous matrix containing spicules and amoeboid cells.
    • Types of Amoeboids:
      • Collenocytes
      • Myocytes
      • Thesocytes
      • Archaeocytes
      • Gland cells
      • Chromocytes

Observations under Microscope

  1. Dermal Layer:
    • Single layer of cells covering the outer surface.
    • Spicules appear to arise from these cells.
  2. Radial Canal:
    • Lined with collar cells or choanocytes, each with a flagellum.
    • Flattened endodermal cells line the spongocoel.
  3. Choanocytes:
    • Oval or circular cells with vacuoles in their cytoplasm.
    • Flagellum emerges from the basal granule connected to the rhizoplast.
    • Collar-like projections have 20-30 cytoplasmic tentacles.

Respiration of Sycon

Respiration in Sycon, a marine sponge, occurs through a process called simple diffusion, which allows for the exchange of gases between the sponge’s cells and the surrounding water. This exchange is crucial for the sponge’s survival, as it enables the uptake of oxygen and the release of carbon dioxide, byproducts of cellular respiration.

Process of Respiration

  1. Simple Diffusion:
    • Definition: The process by which gases move from an area of higher concentration to an area of lower concentration, across a permeable membrane.
    • In Sycon: Oxygen dissolved in the water diffuses into the sponge’s cells, while carbon dioxide from the cells diffuses out into the water.
  2. Cellular Respiration:
    • Oxidation of Molecules: Oxygen taken in through diffusion is used in the oxidation of protoplasmic molecules within the sponge’s cells.
    • Energy Release: This process releases energy that is captured in molecules of adenosine triphosphate (ATP).
  3. Role of ATP:
    • Function: ATP is a molecule that stores and supplies energy to metabolizing cells.
    • Importance: It is critical for various cellular processes, including growth, repair, and maintenance of the sponge’s tissues.
  4. Contractile Vacuoles:
    • Presence in Amoeboid Cells: In freshwater sponges, amoeboid cells possess contractile vacuoles.
    • Function in Osmoregulation: These vacuoles are involved in regulating the water content within the cells, helping to maintain osmotic balance.
    • Excretory Function: They also play a role in excretion, removing waste products from the cells.

Nutrition of Sycon

Sycon, like other sponges, relies on a unique feeding mechanism to obtain nutrients from its environment. This process, known as filter feeding, allows Sycon to extract organic matter from the water passing through its body.

Feeding Mechanism

  1. Water Current:
    • Introduction of Microbes: Water currents bring microbes and organic particles that serve as food for the sponge.
    • Entry through Ostia: These particles enter the sponge through numerous ostia, or pores, on its outer surface.
  2. Filter Feeding:
    • Definition: Sycon is a filter feeder, subsisting on plankton and other organic substances present in the water.
    • Mechanism: Choanocytes, specialized cells lining the radial canals, play a crucial role in filter feeding.
  3. Digestion Process:
    • Intracellular Digestion: Digestion in Sycon is intracellular, meaning it occurs inside cells.
    • Transfer to Amoeboid Cells: Choanocytes engulf food particles and transfer them to amoeboid cells present beneath them for digestion.
  4. Nutritional Process:
    • Holozoic Nutrition: Sycon’s nutrition is holozoic, involving the ingestion of whole food particles.
    • Autotrophic Nutrition: Some amoeboid cells contain chlorophyll and perform autotrophic nutrition.

Digestive Process

  1. Role of Choanocytes:
    • Flagellated Chambers: Beating flagella in choanocytes create water currents that pass through their collars.
    • Food Particle Trapping: Microvilli in the collars act as filters, trapping food particles.
  2. Food Vacuoles:
    • Formation: Engulfed food particles are taken to food vacuoles after choanocytes’ pseudopodial action at the base of their collars.
    • Digestion Phases: Initially, the food vacuoles are acidic, and then they become alkaline as digestion proceeds.
  3. Role of Amoebocytes:
    • Digestion Completion: Amoebocytes present in the mesenchyme complete the digestion of food particles.
    • Distribution of Nutrients: Amoebocytes distribute digested food to all cells, while some store it for later use.
  4. Enzymatic Action:
    • Enzyme Production: Amoebocytes produce various enzymes, including those for digesting fats, starches, and proteins.

Reproduction of Sycon

Sycon exhibits both sexual and asexual modes of reproduction, showcasing its adaptability and reproductive versatility.

Asexual Reproduction

  1. Budding:
    • Process: Asexual reproduction in Sycon involves the formation of buds.
    • Formation: Buds develop as outgrowths from the parent sponge, eventually detaching to form new, genetically identical sponges.
    • Commonality: This mode of reproduction is common among sponges and allows for rapid colony growth and expansion.
  2. Gemmules:
    • Special Structures: In some instances, Sycon produces specialized structures called gemmules.
    • Similarity to Freshwater Sponges: These structures resemble the gemmules produced by freshwater sponges, serving as a means of asexual reproduction and survival in adverse conditions.

Sexual Reproduction

  1. Gamete Production:
    • Archaeocytes: Both male and female gametes are produced from specialized cells called archaeocytes, located in the mesoglea of the sponge.
    • Sperm Cells: Sperm cells have long tails, allowing them to swim freely in the water current.
    • Ova: Ova are amoeboid in nature, capable of moving through the mesoglea.
  2. Fertilization:
    • Mechanism: Sperm cells do not directly enter the ovum. Instead, they are captured by choanocytes in the radial canal nearest to the egg.
    • Choanocyte as Carrier Cell: The choanocyte acts as a carrier cell, capturing the sperm and approaching the egg. It then ejects its flagellum and collar, facilitating the entry of the sperm into the egg.
    • Developmental Stages: The earliest stages of development occur inside the mother sponge, providing protection and nourishment to the developing embryo.
  3. Larval Stage:
    • Completion of Development: Once the developmental stage is complete, the larva is released into the radial canal.
    • Release: From the radial canal, the larva is expelled to the outside environment, where it continues its development and eventually matures into an adult sponge.


What is sycon?

Sycon belongs to a group of animals called sponges.

Sycon belongs to which phylum?

Sycon belongs to the phylum Porifera.

How to pronounce sycon?

Sycon is pronounced as “SIE-kon.”

How does the sycon canal system help sponge in obtaining food?

The sycon canal system helps sponges obtain food by circulating water through their bodies, allowing them to filter out nutrients.

What is canal system describe briefly the canal system of sycon?

The canal system of sycon is a network of canals and chambers that help in water circulation and food intake in sponges.

Sycon is an example of which phylum?

Sycon is an example of the phylum Porifera.

What is the scientific name of sycon?

The scientific name of sycon is Sycon.

What is sycon type of canal system?

Sycon has a syconoid type of canal system.

What is the classification of sycon sponge?

Sycon sponge is classified under the phylum Porifera.

From which cells in sycon do the gametes develop?

Gametes in sycon develop from choanocytes and amoebocytes.

Which type of canal system is present in sycon?

Sycon has a syconoid type of canal system.



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What is Karyotyping? What are the scope of Microbiology? What is DNA Library? What is Simple Staining? What is Negative Staining? What is Western Blot? What are Transgenic Plants? Breakthrough Discovery: Crystal Cells in Fruit Flies Key to Oxygen Transport What is Northern Blotting? What is Southern Blotting?
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