The carbon metabolism of two marine sponges, Haliclona oculata and Dysidea avara, has been studied using a 13C isotope pulse-chase approach. The sponges were fed 13C-labeled diatoms (Skeletonema costatum) for 8 h and they took up between 75 and 85%. At different times, sponges were sampled for total 13C enrichment, and fatty acid (FA) composition and 13C enrichment. Algal biomarkers present in the sponges were highly labeled after feeding but their labeling levels decreased until none was left 10 days after enrichment. The sponge-specific FAs incorporated 13C label already during the first day and the amount of 13C label inside these FAs kept increasing until 3 weeks after labeling. The algal-derived carbon captured by the sponges during the 8-h feeding period was thus partly respired and partly metabolized during the weeks following. Apparently, sponges are able to capture enough food during short periods to sustain longer-term metabolism. The change of carbon metabolic rate of fatty acid synthesis due to mechanical damage of sponge tissue was studied by feeding sponges with 13C isotope–labeled diatom (Pheaodactylum tricornutum) either after or before damaging and tracing back the 13C content in the damaged and healthy tissue. The filtration and respiration in both sponges responded quickly to damage. The rate of respiration in H. oculata reduced immediately after damage, but returned to its initial level after 6 h. The 13C data revealed that H. oculata has a higher metabolic rate in the tips where growth occurs compared to the rest of the tissue and that the metabolic rate is increased after damage of the tissue. For D. avara, no differences were found between damaged and non-damaged tissue. However, the filtration rate decreased directly after damage.