© 2016, Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.On coral reefs, Symbiodinium spp. are found in most cnidarian species, but reside in only a small number of sponge species. Of the sponges that do harbor Symbiodinium, most are found in the family Clionaidae, which represents a minor fraction of the poriferan diversity on a reef. Our goal was to determine whether Symbiodinium can be taken up by sponge hosts that do not typically harbor these algal symbionts, and then to follow the fate of any Symbiodinium that enter the intracellular space. We used the filter-feeding capacity of sponges to initiate intracellular interactions between sponge-specialist clade G Symbiodinium and six sponge species that do not associate with Symbiodinium. Using a pulse-chase experimental design, we determined that all of the species we examined captured Symbiodinium, and undamaged intracellular algae were found up to 1 h after inoculation. In a longer-term experiment, Symbiodinium populations in Amphimedon erina persisted in sponge cells for at least 5 d post-inoculation. While no evidence of digestion was detected, the population decreased exponentially after inoculation. We contrast these data with the characteristics of symbiont acquisition and establishment in Cliona varians, which normally harbors Symbiodinium. Explants from experimentally derived aposymbiotic sponges were placed in the field where they acquired Symbiodinium from ambient sources (i.e., we did not inoculate them as in the pulse-chase experiments). We began to detect Symbiodinium cells in C. varians after 12 d, and the algal population increased exponentially until densities approached those typically found in this host (after ~128 d). We discuss the implications of this work in light of growing interest in the evolution of specificity between hosts and symbionts, and the fundamental and realized niche of Symbiodinium.