What are Zoanthids

Zoanthids are one of the most popular types of soft corals. They can be good growers, easy to keep, and come in just about every color combination that you can imagine. Most Zoanthids or Zoas are perfect for any beginner tank but some types of Zoa can also be just as hard or harder than Acropora to keep happy. When people refer to Zoanthids they are typically talking about Zoanthids or Palythoas. Palys are just like Zoas but are generally larger and also can be more toxic when cut or agitated. Many people recommend wearing gloves and safety glasses when handling Zoas. When sold, typically prices will be listed based on the number of polyps on a frag.

Soft coral - Strawberry Wine Zoanthid

Zoanthid Coral

Zoanthids are extremely popular for many reasons. They can be an easy coral to keep happy, they are great growers and have a huge variety of colors! Some of our favorites are the BigR Space Chaos and our Bam Bams.

See all of our Zoanthids

Captain America palythoa

Palythoa Coral

Palythoa corals are very similar to Zoas. The biggest difference between them is that Palys are typically a little bit bigger and less colorful. However, sometimes the difference is almost to small to really tell. Some of our favorite palys are the Captian America Palythoa and the SSC Purple Potion Paly.

See all of our Playthoa.

Zoanthid Coral Care

How much light do Zoas need?
Quality lighting is extremely important for growing Zoanthids and getting good coloration. At Sunnyside Corals, we grow all of our corals under both T-5 lighting and Radions. We run our lighting on a modified AB schedule with our T-5s and Radions. Our Zoas sit near the bottom of our tanks to assure that they are not getting too much light. We try to keep them at a medium amount of lighting. As mentioned before, sometimes a little higher light can help bring out the colors in your Zoas, but you don’t want to overdo it.

Flow Requirements
Zoas generally don’t need a lot of flow. We try to give them a medium amount of flow. Having the right amount of flow is important to keep sand and detritus from settling on your zoanthids and stunting growth or even killing them. Don’t forget to vary the amount of flow in your tank throughout the day. This helps promote healthy growth and is closer to their natural environment.

How to place LPS coral
Make sure to place your Zoas close to the bottom or middle of your tank where it is not receiving too much light. Typically somewhere, where the Zoa can receive indirect flow, is best, not directly under a pump. Zoanthids will grow almost anywhere and will cover what you place them on. This can add a lot of depth and variety to your tank. Some people put zoas on the back wall of their tanks or leave them to cover the ground or rocks in their tanks. As your zoas grow, they often become referred to as a Zoa Garden. Be creative and have fun watching your Zoas add some color to your tank.

Water Parameters
Water parameters are always a key part of growing any coral. Zoas do well in a “dirty tank” where the Nitrates and Phosphates are slightly elevated. Some people claim this helps to bring out the best colors in the Zoanthids as well. The most important thing though, is that you keep your levels stable. Zoas do fairly well with some water parameter fluctuation but overall you will have the most success if you keep your levels stable. Look into automation tools such as dosers, refugium, and calcium reactors to help stabilize your tank levels.

How to increase LPS coral growth
The key to increasing Zoanthid growth in your tank is to make sure your tank is consistent. Once you find a spot in your tank where your corals are happy, don’t move them. If you keep your parameters consistent and have adequate light and flow, your corals will start to thrive. 

Nightmares zoanthid

Things to Know Before You Buy Zoanthids

Zoas are a great way to get your feet wet with live coral. As technology advances, maintaining a healthy tank is increasingly easy. Once you get your system running smoothly and it’s stable you can grow Zoas fairly easily.  Things like dosers, calcium reactors, and other automated tools have made keeping Zoanthids a lot easier but may not be necessary. The nicest thing about Zoanthid coral is they can be largely hands-off. If your tank is relatively stable and your zoas are placed in a good spot, they should grow well for you.

Other important factors that play a role in the success of growing Zoanthids are the correct amount of lighting and flow. At Sunnyside Corals, we run a modified AB schedule with Gen 4 radions and supplement T-5 lighting on all our corals. Our zoas grow best under medium amounts of light. Different lighting can lead to brighter or duller colors on your zoanthids. No one size fits all with zoas.

As a rule of thumb when buying Zoanthids, the pricier ones are typically more touchy and grow slower. There are 1000’s of different zoanthids out there. It is always best to start cheap and work your way up.

When can I add Zoas to my tank?

Zoanthids are one of the easier corals to grow and can be a great starter coral. Most Zoas don’t require a super-stable system with very little fluctuation in water parameters and temperature. Because of this most tanks typically can start growing Zoas after 3 to 6 months of setting up your tank. However, this amount of time does vary from tank to tank. We would recommend starting with an easy beginner zoa from our list of beginner corals.

Dry Rock
If you started your tank with dry rock you will most likely have to wait close to 6 months before you will be able to successfully keep anything alive. This is because dry rock can leach phosphate into the water for a very long time. Zoas do well with elevated levels and will be a good coral to test if your tank is ready or not for more coral.

Live Rock
If you started your tank with live rock that process can be dramatically shorter. However, be aware that just because your levels are where they should be, does not mean that your tank is actually ready for any corals. We recommend introducing LPS or Soft corals first with any new system. After having success with LPS and soft coral for a while you can begin to introduce easy SPS corals like montipora. Acros should be the last thing you try to add in your system.

Check out some of our Zoas!