Sponges are suspension feeders that filter vast amounts of water. Pumping is carried out by flagellated chambers that are connected to an inhalant and exhalant canal system. In 'leucon' sponges with relatively high-pressure resistance due to a complex and narrow canal system, pumping and filtering are only possible owing to the presence of a gasket-like structure (forming a canopy above the collar filters). Here we combine numerical and experimental work, and demonstrate how sponges that lack such sealing elements are able to efficiently pump and force the flagella driven flow through their collar filter, thanks to the formation of a 'hydrodynamic gasket' above the collar. Our findings link the architecture of flagellated chambers to that of the canal system, and lend support to the current view that the sponge aquiferous system evolved from an open-type filtration system, and that the first metazoans were filter feeders.