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Difference Between Hydra and Sponges

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An Overview of Hydra and Sponge

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Every organism is unique in its shape and characteristic in kingdom plantae.

Hydra has a cylindrical and radially symmetric body from 2 to 20 mm in length. It is visible to the naked eye when fully extended. Hydras are attached to some underwater objects, waving their tentacles slowly with the current. Sponges are multicellular organisms belonging to the phylum Porifera. They are characterised by the presence of pores all over the body.

The body of the hydra retracts from sensing any danger and appears to be shorter and rounder. A small hydra appears to be transparent in its tentacles and yellowish in its tube-like body. Hydra oligarchies are brown, also known as the brown hydra.

What is a Hydra?

Hydra is a simple invertebrate animal, having two layers of body cells. They are found in freshwater and other water bodies including ditches, ponds, slow-flowing rivers, and streams. Their body is tubular and radially symmetric. They have a central opening through which they take in food and expel waste.

Hydra is classified under the phylum cnidaria and belongs to the class hydrozoa. They consist of stinging cells on their tentacles and are microscopic in size. They belong to mostly unpolluted bodies of water and have a low tolerance for pollution. They are reproduced by budding.

Budding refers to the forming of a lump by the offspring of the parent and they break off as soon as they become big enough to live by themselves. They move in a kind of slow somersaulting motion if they feel the need to.

Hydra Structure

Hydra viridissima is commonly called green hydra because of its distinctive colour due to the symbiotic green algae Chlorella that lives within its body.

The outer layer of the hydra is the epidermis which can secret a protective layer of hydramacin against bacterial infection. Respiration and excretion in hydra occur by diffusion through the surface of the epidermis.

The inner layer is called the gastrodermis lining the stomach. Mesoglea is a gel-like structure present between the two layers. The bottom end of a hydra is adhered to the surface by a simple foot called the basal disc. Gland cells in the basal disc secrete a sticky fluid that is responsible for its adhesive properties. Hypostome is a mouth opening at the free end of the body that is surrounded by tentacles. The mouth is also connected to the body cavity.

The waste after digestion will be discharged from the same opening where the food is engulfed since hydra has only one opening. Cnidocytes are the cells that cover the tentacles.

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Hydra Structure

What is a Sponge?

Sponge refers to the multicellular aquatic animal that belongs to the phylum Porifera.

Mostly 98 percent of sponge species are marine; however, the members of one family, the spongillidae, are found in freshwater.

Structure of Sponge

Sponges are hollow cylinders having a large opening at the top through which wastes and water are excreted. Their body is a fingerlike or treelike shapeless mass ranging in diameter from approximately 1 inch to several yards. Sponges can reproduce asexually or sexually. Sponges have been used in holding water, bathing, and scrubbing; because of overharvesting and newer technologies, most sponges sold today are synthetic.

Types of Digestion Occur in Sponges

Sponges live in close contact with water, which plays an important role in their feeding, gas exchange, and excretion. Most of the part of the sponge is attached to moving water through the body, so it can filter out food, absorb oxygen, and excrete wastes. Water is entered through the spongocoel from numerous pores in the body wall and flows out through a large opening known as the osculum. Sponges consist of an outer layer and an inner layer of flattened cells called choanocytes which are separated by a jelly-like substance called mesohyl.

The mesohyl consists of embedded amoeboid cells that secrete tiny needles called spicules or protein fibres which help the sponge to attain its structural strength. The process through which digestion occurs in sponges is intracellular digestion.

The beating of flagella from all choanocytes helps water move through the sponge. Food particles are confined in mucus produced by the sieve-like collar of the choanocytes and are ingested by phagocytosis. Amoebocytes are responsible for nutrients repackaged in food vacuoles of the choanocytes and help them deliver to other cells within the sponge.

Difference Between Hydra and Sponge



Hydra is a multicellular organism belonging to the phylum Cnidaria.

A sponge is a multicellular organism belonging to the phylum Porifera.

Hydra is radially symmetrical in shape.

Sponges are mostly asymmetrical in shape.

Hydra lives in freshwater water bodies.

Sponges mostly live in marine water bodies.

Hydra consists of a mouth.

Sponges do not have a mouth.

Hydra has a tissue-level organisation.

A sponge has cellular-level organisation.

The mode of nutrition is from small insects and small crustaceans.

The mode of nutrition is through floating aquatic animals.

Interesting Facts

  • A single hydra consists of 50,000 to 1,00,000 cells. Some species of hydra can extend longer up to 5 cm to 20cm.

  • The unique feature of Sponges is that they lack organs and individual cells digest food, excrete waste, and absorb oxygen.

Important Questions

  1. Which kingdom does sponge and hydra belong to?

Ans: Sponge and hydra belong to the kingdom plantae. Sponge belongs to phylum Cnidaria and Hydra belongs to phylum Porifera.

  1. What type of reproduction does sponge and hydra undergo?

Ans: Sponges undergoes both asexual and sexual reproduction and hydra undergoes budding. In budding, a small bud grows near the basal part of the hydra.

Key Features

  • Sponges reproduce both sexually and asexually. Asexual reproduction takes place either by fragmentation or budding.

  • Asexual reproduction found in freshwater sponges occurs through the formation of gemmules, clusters of cells surrounded by a tough outer layer.

  • Ninety percent of the world's sponges are found within the class Demosponge, which contains 4,750 species. These sponges vary from 3 millimetres to over 2 metres in length.

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FAQs on Difference Between Hydra and Sponges

1. Why do hydra and sponge not have blood?

Hydra and sponge do not consist of a circulatory system. Water is responsible for food and nutrients and also carries food waste while excretion.

2. What is the mode of transport in hydra and sponge?

The mode of transport in hydra is by simple diffusion and in the sponge is through a canal transport system.

3. How do hydra differ from other cnidarians? 

Gonads in hydras are derived from epidermal tissues whereas other cnidarians are derived from gastrodermal tissues.

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