Zoanthid Coral Care Guide
Zoanthids, or "Zoa" as they are commonly referred to in the reefing hobby, are one of the most common and popular corals kept in a home aquarium. They are an excellent beginner coral! Even experienced reefers continue to keep Zoanthids. Why? Zoanthids have no lack of intense fluorescing color and varying patterns. They will give definition and color to almost any spot you desire. Down below we'll talk about some of the requirements for keeping these amazing corals and things to watch out for.
Zoanthids and Palythoas can contain a dangerous marine toxin known as Palytoxin. Palytoxin is most harmful, even fatal, when ingested or introduced into the blood stream. This means wearing gloves, eye protection, and a mask while handling these corals. Remember to practice coral handling safety, (gloves, mask, eye protection), and enjoy these strikingly beautiful corals in your own slice of the reef.
Zoanthid Water Conditions:
Zoanthids require pretty standard water conditions that mimic a tropical ocean environment. Temperature around 78F, salinity should be 1.024-1.026 specific gravity, an alkalinity of 8-12 dKH, and a pH between 8.0-8.4.
Zoanthids have a wide range of placement they can tolerate in a home aquarium. Low-medium flow and low-medium light is a great place to start. Many Zoanthids can be acclimated to tolerate higher lights over time. For lighting the vast majority of our Zoanthids are kept in the 60-100 PAR range with some moving up closer to 150-200. Once settled in Zoas can be a fast-growing coral, quickly covering the rock you've place them on.
Like with lighting, Zoanthids will be happy in all different amounts of water flow. One of the most important things is that it is indirect. They won’t be too happy with a wavemaker blasting them directly.
One of our ideal locations is on a sloped rock with plenty of indirect flow moving past. Not only will the water flow help keep them clean but the semi-vertical nature of the slope will prevent detritus from settling among the polyps and irritating them.
Zoanthids will derive all their necessary nutrients from the lights (photosynthesis). They do have the ability to eat, and feeding can help them grow faster; but it is not necessary to maintain a successful thriving colony of Zoas. If you do choose to feed, some good choices are Phytoplankton, Mysis/Brine shrimp, or any other small particle food source.
Zoa diseases and pests:
One of the more common diseases to look out for in your beloved Zoa colonies is Zoa Pox. Most easily observed when the Zoas are closed and the aquarium lights are off, it will look like white or yellow pimples on the stalk or mat of an affected polyp.
When it comes to pests there are quite a few things that can bother a Zoa colony. Zoa eating nudibranchs, sea spiders, flatworms, crabs and even fish.
Fortunately, pests are fairly easily removed with coral dips and Zoas take well to being dipped. If you suspect that there could be something bothering your Zoas it may not hurt to give them a preventative dip and see if they come out looking all the better for it.
Most reef safe fish will not bother Zoas but always do your research before hand when introducing fish and coral in the same aquarium.