With about 260 species, freshwater sponges represent only about 3% of the diversity of all the sponges. Freshwater sponges grow on sturdy submerged objects in clean streams, lakes, and rivers. Because they are sensitive to water conditions, their presence indicates high water quality and low levels of pollutants. As all sponges they are filter feeders. They obtain food from the flow of water through their bodies and from symbiotic algae.
The new species was actually discovered in a 200 liter aquarium in São Paulo, Brazil. It was named to honor Fernando Barletta, the owner of the aquarium whose curiosity permitted the discovery of the new species.
For the experts: A new species of freshwater sponge, Heteromeyenia barlettai sp. nov., is proposed here based on specimens discovered in a private aquarium in São Paulo, Brazil, and most likely inadvertently collected from the Paraná Basin. The present study also presents a redescription of H. insignis on the basis of the specimen reported upon by Volkmer (1963), collected from the Atlântico Sul Hydrographic Basin. Spicule measurements (n=30) were made for comparison with other Heteromeyenia species. This is the first time that H. insignis has its complete set of spicules studied under SEM. After comparison with the redescription of the type of H. baileyi, we also find characteristics that justify the maintenance of H. insignis as a valid species. A key to species of Heteromeyenia is provided.