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Zoanthid Coral Care Guide

by Brian Dunleavy
Zoanthid Coral Care Guide

Zoanthids are a stunning type of soft coral that are found in reefs all over the world. They belong to the family Zoanthidae, which is made up of a number of different genera. These corals are known for their epic bright colors and their ability to colonize quickly, making them a popular choice for reef aquariums. Zoanthids are often referred to as "zoos," "zoas," "zoanthids," or "palys,".

Zoanthids are relatively easy to care for, making them a great choice for beginner and experienced reef keepers alike. In this article we will cover everything you need to know to successfully keep and care for zoanthid corals. 


What Do Zoanthid Corals Look Like?

Zoanthids can be found in a wide range of colors, from bright yellows and oranges to deep ocean blues and stunning purples.

They are also known for their intricate patterns and designs, which can vary from one colony to the next. Some zoanthids have a single color, while others have multiple colors in a striped or spotted pattern.

Zoanthid Taxonomy and Identification

Zoanthids are classified into a number of different genera based on their physical characteristics. These genera include Zoanthus, Parazoanthus, Palythoa, and Protopalythoa. Each genus has its own unique characteristics, such as polyp size and shape, which can help with identification.

Zoanthids are also known for their ability to hybridize, which can make identification more difficult. Hybrid zoanthids can have characteristics of both parents, making it challenging to determine their exact species. This is also when funky common names come into play! 

When identifying zoanthids, it is important to pay attention to their color, pattern, and polyp size and shape. It can also be helpful to consult with other reef keepers or experts in the field, particularly if you come across a common name you are unsure about. 

Zoanthid Growth

Zoanthids are known for their fast growth rate, making them a popular choice for reef aquariums. They reproduce asexually, which means that individual polyps can divide and create new colonies. This process is known as budding.

Zoanthids can also be propagated by fragging. Fragging involves cutting a small piece of a colony and allowing it to grow into a new colony. This is a popular method for propagating zoanthids and other soft corals.

Zoanthids require moderate water flow and moderate to high lighting to grow properly. They should be placed in an area of the aquarium where they can receive adequate light and water flow.

Water Conditions & Parameters for Zoanthid Corals

Zoanthids require stable water parameters to thrive in a reef aquarium. They are sensitive to changes in water chemistry, so it is important to monitor water parameters regularly and keep on top of regular water changes.

Zoanthids require a pH level of 8.0-8.4, with a salinity level of 1.025. They prefer a temperature range of 72-78°F.

It is also important to maintain proper levels of calcium, alkalinity, and magnesium in the aquarium. These elements are essential for coral growth and can be supplemented if necessary.

  • Calcium: 420 - 440 ppm
  • Alkalinity: 8 - 9.5 dKH
  • Magnesium: 1260 - 1350 ppm

Lighting Conditions for Zoanthid Corals

Zoanthids require moderate to high lighting to grow properly. They can tolerate a wide range of lighting conditions, but they will grow best under LED or T5 lighting.

It is important to acclimate zoanthids to new lighting conditions slowly. Sudden changes in lighting can stress the coral and cause it to bleach or die.

Zoanthid Coral Placement

Zoanthids should be placed in an area of the aquarium where they can receive adequate light and water flow. They can be placed on rocks or substrate, but they should not be placed too close to other corals.

Zoanthids are known to release toxins into the water, which can be harmful to other corals. It is important to maintain adequate space between zoanthids and other corals to prevent any negative interactions.

Feeding Zoanthid Corals

Zoanthids are photosynthetic, which means that they derive their energy from light. They do not require regular feedings, but they can benefit from occasional feedings of phytoplankton or other coral foods.

Feeding zoanthids should be done sparingly, as overfeeding can lead to poor water quality and other issues.

Common Problems With Zoanthid Corals

Zoanthids are relatively hardy corals, but they can still experience a number of issues in a reef aquarium. One common problem is zoanthid pox, which is a viral infection that causes small white spots on the coral's surface.

Other issues that can affect zoanthids include bleaching, bacterial infections, and pests such as flatworms and nudibranchs.

To prevent these issues, it is important to maintain proper water parameters and to monitor the coral regularly for signs of stress or illness.

Zoanthid Gardens

Zoanthid gardens are a popular way to display these colorful corals in a reef aquarium. Zoanthid gardens are typically made up of multiple colonies of zoanthids in different colors and patterns.

To create a zoanthid garden, start by selecting different colonies of zoanthids that complement each other in color and pattern. Arrange the colonies on a rock or substrate in a way that creates a visually appealing display.

For more information, read our Epic Zoa Garden Guide

Where To Buy Zoanthid Corals?

Zoanthids can be purchased from a number of different sources, including local fish stores, online retailers, and hobbyists. It is important to purchase zoanthids from a reputable source to ensure their health and quality.

When selecting zoanthids, look for colonies that are bright and healthy-looking. Avoid purchasing zoanthids that have signs of stress, illness, or damage.

At Reefco Aquariums, we have a large selection of zoanthids and palythoa Corals. 


Zoanthids are a popular and colorful addition to any reef aquarium. From the infamous Bam Bam Zoa to the unique Rainbow Hornet Zoa, there is a zoanthid out there for every hobbyist!

Zoanthids are relatively easy to care for and have a fast growth rate, making them a great choice for beginner and experienced reef keepers alike. By following the guidelines outlined in this care guide, you can ensure that your zoanthids thrive in your reef aquarium for years to come.

by Brian Dunleavy