Zoanthids and Palythoa are extremely popular in the reef hobby. They are fast growing, generally hardy, and come in a huge array of colors. They are highly variable, with new color morphs being “discovered” all the time. Although tolerances may vary from specimen to specimen, there are some general guidelines for their care.
Zoanthids and Palythoa prefer moderate to high light, which can be provided by T5, LED, or metal halide systems. Regardless of what lighting regime you choose, be sure to carefully acclimate your Zoanthids and Palythoa to your lighting. They can lose color if they are subjected too quickly to intense lighting.
Moderate water movement is ideal for Zoanthids and Palythoa. If the movement is too strong, they may not open fully, and gradually decline. Varied, rather than laminar flow has proven to work well with most species.
From a water quality standpoint, Zoanthids and Palythoa are generally quite forgiving, tolerating a wide range of water conditions. Although providing the best possible water quality should be your goal, excessive nutrients in the water can actually be a source of nutrition to some species. Zoanthids typically feed on particulate matter, bacteria, plankton, dissolved organics, and possibly larger prey items.
These animals may show their “displeasure” with aquarium conditions by contraction, color loss, or complete closure, so be sure to study your Zoanthids and Palythoa regularly to recognize their “moods”.
Overall, Zoanthids and Palythoa are terrific choices for the reef aquarium. Apart from being beautiful, they are hardy, fast-growing, and interesting. They do tend to attract growth of filamentous algae and cyanobacteria, so good water movement and the occasional use of a turkey baster or small powerhead to dislodge debris in Zoanthid or Palythoa colonies is helpful.
We do our best to keep our Zoanthids and Palythoa clean and free of parasites and undesirable life forms through regular inspections and dips at our facility. Regardless, when you first receive these animals, we highly recommend that you always perform a dip as outlined in our section on acclimation, for added protection.
One caveat regarding these animals is that they contain the very potent neurotoxin known as Palytoxin. If you handle these animals, be very careful not to allow their polyps to contact any areas of broken skin. Always wash your hands thoroughly after handling these animals. Better yet, wear disposable gloves.
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