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So What Are Zoanthids?

So What Are Zoanthids?

Zoa Gardening

Have you seen the online photos of reef tanks that are a sea of brilliant colour and fluorescence and wished it was yours? They're easier to build than you think; especially if you build a zoa garden.

Zoa Gardening

Have you seen the online photos of reef tanks that are a sea of brilliant colour and fluorescence and wished it was yours? They're easier to build than you think; especially if you build a zoa garden.

A sunburst of yellow and orange, emerald greens or shocking reds. You can build a dream like carpet of contrasting colours that's easy to maintain. Theres over 100 recognized varieties of zoanthid with prices ranging from $5 to the skies the limit! Plus they have some of the most entertaining names you'll find in the hobby. Mix some Sunny D in with your Bam Bam and a splash of Utter Chaos...oh and don't forget some Fruit Loops with your Darth Maul; you get the picture.

So what Are Zoanthids?

Zoanthids or zoa's often refers to three types of coral with similar growth, appearance and characteristics; zoanthids, palythoa and protopalythoa. For ease we'll just refer to them as zoa's or zoanthids. Zoanthids are colonial soft corals found in tropical and sub tropical reefs. Zoanthids are photosynthetic, meaning they house symbiotic zooxanthelitic algae which produces much of their nutrition. Zoas can adapt to a wide range of lighting, but do best in higher light environments. The better the light, the bigger and faster they will grow and more pronounced the colours will be. They can also capture small food items in their tentacles and should be offered a variety of protein rich foods regularly. Some suggestions would include:

Commercially prepared coral foods, Brine shrimp, Mysis Shrimp or Krill, and Sinking pellets

And don't forget a good multi vitamin and amino acid supplement to round out the diet. Feeding zoas is easiest with a pipette of feeding syringe.

Aquarium Set up

Zoas are very forgiving in aquariums and adapt well to different conditions. That said, they thrive on stability. Sudden changes in lighting, temperature or salinity can cause polyps to retract or become ill. For best results place zoas in a tank with medium to medium high water flow. Salinity should be kept between 1.023 and 1.026 specific gravity. The temperature should be 78F. Hardness and pH are similar as for other corals, 8-12 dkh and 8 to 8.4 pH. The key is keeping it stable.
Zoanthids will grow best under high light conditions, but will adapt to moderate light levels.
Few fish will prey on zoanthids, but when in doubt ask. Best to stay away from butterflies, puffers and larger angels.
Zoanthid Toxicity
Stories of the dangers of zoanthids are wide spread...and mostly very exaggerated. Studies have shown that most zoanthids are considered only mildly toxic in and aquarium environment. Some species of palythoa do produce higher levels of a toxin called palyotoxin, but the risk is exposure is limited. The polyps only release the toxin as a response to a perceived threat. Just like a dog or cat, they won't bite if you don't give them a reason. Always follow good handling procedures and ensure you thoroughly wash your hands after handling any coral. Don't eat, drink or smoke (just don't smoke anyway, its bad for you) while handling corals.

Planning an aquarium for your new home or office? Need maintenance but not sure where to start? Or, just not sure what's going on with your aquarium?

Perhaps you’re new as a fish hobbyist and you’re just starting out and not sure what to do! We're here to help.

Our staff have extensive knowledge in how to setup filtration and equipment, test water, perform regular maintenance and acclimate your new additions and they'd love to share that knowledge with you! Book a One on One here at the store and one of our friendly staff will walk you through setup to water changes and everything in between. There's no charge for a One on One consult

Call today to set speak to us to set up an appointment! (780) 306-3790



  • Aquarium Illusions Inc
  • 17211 107 Ave NW, Edmonton, AB
  • West End Edmonton , Alberta


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