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How To Create An Epic Zoa Garden?

by Brian Dunleavy
How To Create An Epic Zoa Garden?

Looking for new ways to brighten up your reef aquarium? We have the solution!

It all starts with one of our favorite corals at Reefco Aquariums - Zoanthids, more commonly known as Zoas. 

One of the coolest things you can do to brighten up your aquarium is to create an epic Zoa garden. Zoanthids are arguably one of the most colorful corals you can get your reefing hands on. 

So, with further ado, let’s get straight to it - how can you create an epic Zoa garden that everyone is raving about?

Zoa Garden Safety Tips!

Zoanthid Corals

Did you know that many Zoas and Palythoa corals contain palytoxin, a toxin that can be dangerous if it finds its way into our bloodstream? 

When working with Zoas, it is important to wear PPE to protect yourself at all times. 

Tip #1

When handling Zoas, wear gloves.

Tip #2

Always wear safety goggles to protect your eyes from potentially squirting corals. 

Tip #3

Even if you have been wearing gloves, wash your hands thoroughly with antibacterial/antimicrobial soap for at least 30 seconds after handing Zoas.

Tip #4

To avoid potential infections, always cover any open wounds with bandages or a band-aid before putting on your gloves. 

Creating An Epic Zoa Garden: A Step-By-Step Guide 

Creating a Zoa garden is nothing like gardening in your front/backyard… Zoanthid gardens are easy (often too easy!) to create because they are fast to populate reef aquariums - once they start replicating, they do not have an off button!

So, this means planning ahead… 

Step 1: Where To Place The Zoa Garden

Before you grab some supplies, it is critical that you select exactly where you want your Zoa garden to be.

We recommend starting in the middle of your reef aquarium’s aquascape. This ensures the Zoa garden receives enough light, and it also allows plenty of space for them to spread out. 

Step 2: Supplies 

To create your epic Zoa garden, you will need:

  • Zoa Corals
  • Coral cutters or pliers 
  • Reef-safe glue or IC gel
  • Rock to attach your coral - we recommend rubble rock for Zoas
  • PPE (gloves & goggles)

Step 3: Preparing Zoas For Placement: Gluing & Coral Dipping

Your Zoa will likely arrive in a delivery bag attached to a fishing line. Wearing gloves and goggles, gently cut the line and transfer the Zoa to a container filled with aquarium water, so that they are not exposed to the external environment. 

Once, your Zoa is in the container, remove it from the frag plug using coral cutters or pliers. This may sound challenging now, but it is actually very easy to do. However, if you are struggling, just remove the frag plug stick and glue the base of the frag plug to the rock. Do not worry if it looks ugly at the beginning, as it will quickly expand and grow over the exposed areas. 

After your Zoa is nicely secured on some rock, slowly lower it into the container and let it soak for 30 seconds to allow the glue to harden. 

The next step in preparation is dipping your Zoanthid into a coral dip solution like CoralRX to remove any potential pests and hitchhikers that could cause a coral disease outbreak. 

Step 4: Building The Zoa Garden

Now onto the final and most exciting part - placing your Zoa into the aquarium!

Very carefully, place your Zoa into the aquarium in the desired location. Allow 2-4 hours for your Zoanthid to settle into its new home. 

Within no time, your Zoa garden will flourish!

Can I Make My Zoa Garden Grow Faster?

Seen as the million-dollar question - how to grow corals faster…?

How fast your Zoanthid garden will grow, will depend on many factors such as lighting, water flow, feeding, etc. 

However, there are a handful of things that you can do to encourage your Zoas to bloom:

  1. Feed your Zoas often, but don’t go overboard. We recommend Benepets Coral food 3 times a week will help primitive healthy growth and development.
  2. Keep algae growth and pests under control by maintaining stable water parameters and dipping newly introduced corals.
  3. Provide your Zoa garden with plenty of light. A PAR rating of 100-150 will promote optimal health and showcase your garden display. 
  4. Perform regular water changes, remembering to test the water parameters before and after. 
  5. Check for non-friendly neighbors. Prime suspects include large polyp stony (LPS) corals (particularly Torch, Frogspawn, and Hammer corals), Mushroom corals, Sharp-Nosed Pufferfish, and Raccoon Butterflyfish. 
  6. Keep everything inside your aquarium stable. 

Recommended Water Conditions For Zoanthid Corals

  • Temperature: 75° – 80 °F (77 °F is perfect)
  • pH: 8.1 – 8.4
  • Salinity: 1.024 – 1.026 (1.025 is perfect)
  • Alkalinity: 8 – 9.5 dKH 
  • Nitrates: <15 ppm
  • Phosphates: <0.10 ppm
  • Calcium: 420 – 440 ppm
  • Magnesium: 1260 – 1350 ppm

Common FAQs

Q: How long does it take for a Zoa garden to grow? 

A: Usually, after 2 months of placement. 

Q: What is the best placement for a Zoa garden?

A: We recommend the middle region of your aquarium, away from corals that may be aggressive. 

Q: Is creating a Zoa garden expensive?

A: No. It doesn’t have to cost you a fortune to create an epic Zoa garden. 

Q: How much space should I leave between Zoanthids in a Zoa garden?

A: Leave a couple of inches between Zoas, at best at least 3 cm to allow growth. 


Zoanthids are one (if not) one of the most diverse and colorful corals to select for reef tanks. Most coral enthusiasts will have a Zoa garden, not only because they are absolutely stunning, but because they are also very simple to create. 

If you would like to know more about creating Zoa gardens, or what Zoa corals we have to offer (heads-up, we have every color you can imagine), please do not hesitate to contact the Reefco Team!

by Brian Dunleavy