Ultimate Guide to Types of Zoanthids


Aquariums can house a number of incredible life forms. Choosing between critters depends on what you want out of your tank.

Many saltwater tank enthusiasts place zoanthids into their aquariums, as they bring the aquatic atmosphere to a whole new level. With so many types of zoanthids to choose from, where do you start?

Types of Zoanthids Explained 

Zoanthid refers to an order of cnidarians. These gorgeous, colorful creatures look like plants but fall into the animal kingdom.

The animal classification comes from the fact that plants make their own food, while these zoa’s cannot. These bizarre invertebrate animals are called polyps.

These creatures grow over rocky surfaces. As water passes over them, they capture bits of krill, brine shrimp, bloodworm, and other meaty foods.

They provide sanctuaries for a number of fish and other sea creatures and look stunning in live aquariums. Keep reading to learn more about the types of zoanthid corals!


These prized polyps remain incredibly popular in the fishkeeping hobby. You can care for them quite easily, plus they add lots of color to your tank. 

Around their oral opening, they display a distinct sphincter muscle, which you will not typically see on other forms of zoas. These guys grow in a mat of coenenchyme, or body tissues, and embed themselves into the tissues close to the mat.

Their coenenchyme does not contain sediment, making them more fragile than other zoanthids.

They display the most color out of the zoanthids. You will often find a deep contrast between their bright tentacles and oral disc, making them aesthetically pleasing in an aquarium.

One of the most popular types of Zoanthus includes button polyps. Many first-time coral buyers choose this type because they are the easiest coral to care for. 

They present with a flat oral disc on top of a short stalk. Their delicate tentacles come out from the outside of the disc. 

The button polyps come in a variety of colors. Despite the hue, actinic lighting will give them a glow in the dark appearance.


Palythoa polyps also grow out of coenenchyme from the substrate. Shorter tentacles surround their large, flat oral disc, but they lack the muscle seen on Zoanthus.

Their mouth is slit, rather than round. This animal grows in dome-shaped colonies.

They possess much thicker skin than Zoanthus. This is because they use sediment, such as sand and crushed shells when forming their coenenchyme.

This makes their skin feel rough to the touch. Though rough, they also feel quite slimy.

They come in a variety of shapes and colors. Though, their color palate is usually dull in color, and rarely neon.

This kind of zoanthid produces palytoxin. This dangerous fatty alcohol seeps into the water, creating a deadly environment for many other forms of sea life. 

If you carefully choose your organisms, you can still use Polythoa in your tank, as human poisoning is rare. But, make sure you use the proper safety equipment, like goggles and gloves, while cleaning your tank. 

Many aquarium lovers choose Palythoa Grandis for their tank. This large polyp looks cool and does not require the special lighting that other animals of this kind need.


Protopalythoa, also known as Protopalys, also embed their bodies into a mat of coenenchyme that they make out of the sediment.They often use stolons to connect themselves to the mat. You will notice this as they appear raised up on stalks, like flowers.

These guys do not tend to live in large colonies like the other zoanthids. Instead, this species tends to live alone.

They feel quite slimy in your hands. Though, the use of sediment in their coenenchyme also gives them the texture of sandpaper.

The Protopalys’ oral disk appears bigger than any of the other zoanthids’. They also grow the longest tentacles in the greatest abundance.

Their coenenchyme often appears brownish or another dull hue. But, their outer disc typically appears quite bright in color, making it beneficial to aquarium keepers to use fluorescing or actinic lighting.

Many fish lovers enjoy keeping the giant sun polyp. It is the biggest zoanthid. These guys need adequate lighting and good water flow.

Zoa Coral Care

As with any type of marine life, these unique creatures require good care. This starts with picking healthy zoa from the get-go.

Their coloring should not appear drab in comparison to other zoanthids of that type. Also, their tentacles should reach out, as retracted tentacles can indicate a health problem.

Putting too many in the tank will not create a healthy environment. You should pick a few Zoanthus or Palythoa, and only a single Protopaly.

They require strong water movement so that food particles constantly flow past them. You can create this current with the use of water pumps.

Watch their tentacles in the current. If they look retracted, then slow it down.

These creatures require moderate lighting. You want at least 4 to 5 watts of light per gallon of water in the tank. Taller aquariums require more light than wider aquariums, as the rays need to travel deeper.

Zoanthids do photosynthesize to a certain extent. They contain cells that turn the light into some food. 

But, you still need to feed them as well. Some people opt for special food sold by pet stores, while others choose to culture copepods on their own to feed their zoanthids.

Remember that these are very fragile creatures. You want to always handle them with care.

Always wear gloves, as they can be toxic. And only touch them, gently, when necessary, to avoid ripping their delicate coenenchyme.

Keep Zoanthids in Your Aquarium

Maintaining an aquarium gives you a close-up look into an alien world. These amazing creatures only enhance the experience.

You will find all types of zoanthids, and each provides a unique quality to your tank. Choose the right one that goes along with the rest of your aquarium’s ecosystem.

We want to help you create the aqua-system of your dreams. Shop for your favorite zoanthids on our website.

The Ultimate Guide To Chalice Corals


If you’re interested in adding a bright new specimen to add to your reef, look no further–chalice corals may be exactly what you need.

These corals are known for their bright, almost fluorescent colors and their prices range from inexpensive to exorbitantly high. 

Read on to learn all about chalice corals and how to take care of one to keep it bright and thriving! 

What are Chalice Corals? 

“Chalice” refers to a group of cup coral species. The chalice corals that are the most common come from six different genera of the Pectiniidae family: 

  • Echinophyllia
  • Echinopora
  • Oxypora 
  • Mycedium
  • Pectinia
  • Physophyllia
  • Echinomorpha

Although the classifications can get confusing and murky, these are highly regarded LPS corals for any hobbyist’s aquarium because of the large variety of bright colors they present. 

Chalice corals can be found prevalently throughout the Pacific. Because of import and export bans in Fiji and Indonesia, the majority of chalice corals are being exported from Australia.

Chalice corals range from around $40 to even up to $500, so both new enthusiasts and serious hobbyists can enjoy them in their tanks. 

How to Care for Chalice Corals 

Chalice corals are some of the easiest kinds of corals to take care of and require low maintenance.

However, they do require specific light, feeding, and water flow requirements so that they can grow and thrive. In order to be a responsible owner, you’ll want to do your research before you purchase one! 


Chalice corals prefer low to moderate light conditions of 50 to 100 PAR. Remember that in the wild, they’re typically found about 40 to 80 feet in the water, and you’ll want to try and mimic the lighting conditions they’re used to at those depths.

If the chalice is in good condition, you can also try copying the condition of the seller’s tank.

Remember that you did purchase your chalice corals partly because of their bright colors, and under actinic blue LED lights, their colors will be the most vibrant.

Chalice corals are also readily adaptable to many lighting conditions, but for them to thrive it’s best to introduce them slowly to the conditions you would prefer. 

Water Flow

This doesn’t need to be complicated–you just need a light to moderate flow so that debris doesn’t settle on the chalice. Some chalice naturally form a bowl shape which can become the perfect area for debris to settle if the water flow isn’t high enough. 

You also don’t want the water flow too high where you can see the tissue moving in the water or its jostled from its original position. 

Water Parameters

You should only add chalice corals to your tank if it’s well-established and stable. Chalice corals do well in tanks that have standard reef system parameters. However, they’re known not to do well in nutrient-poor systems.

You’ll also want to ensure that your magnesium levels are on the high-end at around 1400 ppm. Any lower could result in tissue loss. 


These guys are avid late-night eaters–it’s a perfect time because they don’t have to fear fish or other creatures stealing their food away. 

Trying to determine what your chalice likes to eat is a bit of trial and error, however. Be patient and try out several types, from frozen foods to pellet foods. A good rule of thumb is to ensure that the chalice can get the food inside its mouth and then close its mouth in less than five minutes. 

Chalice corals also get a good deal of their nutrients from photosynthesis. 


One aspect that newcomers to corals won’t be aware of is their aggression. Chalice corals are highly aggressive towards any other chalice, especially when they’re in tight quarters. Only a few have sweeper tentacles that they can extend, but when they do they can do a lot of damage to each other.

Placement is key if you have multiple chalice coral–keep them away from each other and your tank should remain peaceful. 


The propagation of chalice corals is fairly straightforward. However, here are a few tips that some people are prone to forget: 

Clean Your Tools

It’s recommended to clean your tools after cutting into each chalice. This is because chalice corals can emit mucus and other chemicals that remain on the tools even after you’re finished cutting. If you use the same tainted tools on another specimen, you can run into some undesirable reactions. 

Gluing Frags

You’ll find many tutorials online that advise you to glue down your new chalice coral to the substrate. However, oftentimes you’ll find the next day that all your hard work was wasted because they became dislodged during the night. 

To avoid this, try using gel super glue. Then, spray it with an instant set product afterward to ensure that your coral will remain stuck fast to its new substrate. 

Brightly Colored Additions to Your Tank

Chalice corals have become popular over the years because of the sheer variety of colors they come in. If you’ve never added coral to your tank the new addition may seem daunting, but these kinds of corals are just as easy to take care of as any other kind of coral.

You’ll just need to ensure that light levels, flow, and parameters of your tank are all appropriate for your coral. Monitor and pay attention to how the chalice corals grow and make adjustments when necessary.

Ready to purchase your very own chalice coral? Take a look at our selection today!

How Do Corals Eat? A Comprehensive Guide to Coral Feeding

For anyone who is fascinated with the strange nature of coral, chances are, you’ve contemplated how they survive. Do they absorb sunlight like most other plants? Do they obtain nutrients from the water? 

If you’re an ocean aficionado in search of biology food for thought, or if you’re considering growing coral at home, then here’s a complete guide to coral feeding and nutrition.

What Are Coral? 

Ocean lovers might remember a time as a kid reading Jules Verne and picturing coral monsters with mouths filled with razor-sharp teeth. If you’ve ever been scuba diving or watched Planet Earth, you might have thought about the absurdity of that image. That image isn’t entirely wrong. 

How Do Corals Eat 

Coral comes in many shapes and sizes, but they are all living animals. If we look at them, it doesn’t look like they have mouths and a digestive system, but they do. And they need to feed themselves regularly. 

Corals are sessile, which means they cannot move to obtain their food. Instead, they have tentacles that reach out into the ocean and snatch unsuspecting ocean particles such as zooplankton. 

How large corals’ prey is, depends on the size of the coral itself. Like most living creatures, corals have specific times which they like to feed (humans do too, think breakfast, lunch, and dinner). Coral isn’t much different except for their feeding time depends on zooplankton. 

Zooplanktons rise to the surface of the ocean around sunset, and it’s then when coral fills its belly. Coral also feed when zooplanktons retreat from the surface at dawn. 

How Do Corals Tentacles Work

In addition to their tentacles, corals have an outer mucus layer that aids in transporting nutrients to their digestive system. Some corals don’t even need tentacles and only use the mucus membranes to transport nutrients to their gastrovascular cavity. 

What Do Corals Eat

Corals get their nutrition from different sources. Many corals use their tentacles like fishing nets that catch dissolved organic matter (DOM). DOM consists of organic molecules that float in the ocean. These organic molecules come from many places, including ocean animal waste and decaying animal waste. 

Corals also use sediment as nutrition. They trap floating sediment with their tentacles and extract the organic molecules from the deposit, such as amino acids, sugars, and lipids. Sediment can also contain bacteria or protozoa (single-celled organisms that contain many nutrients.)

Can Corals Bite

Corals cannot bite, but some corals can undoubtedly sting. Many corals have a predatory mechanism known as nematocysts. Nematocysts are stinging cells located in corals’ tentacles.

These stinging cells are very similar to those of jellyfish. An example of a coral that possesses these stingers is fire coral, which produces a paralyzing sting. 

The three types of nematocysts

Glutinant- Glutinants have a sticky surface that stings prey and causes it to stick to the tentacles. 

Penetrant- Aptly named stingers that act as tiny harpoons and penetrate the exoskeleton of zooplankton. 

Volvent: The cowboy of tentacles that has a lasso-like structure that captures prey in tentacles. 

Living Together In Food Harmony 

Corals can also derive nutrients from a symbiotic relationship with certain types of algae. Zooxanthellae, whose pronunciation is not very important, is the algae that corals bond. 

Corals can have one of three different types of symbiotic relationships with algae.

Corals and algae can have a mutualistic relationship where both the coral and the algae benefit. The coral and algae can have an endosymbiotic relationship where the algae live inside the coral, and they can have an obligate relationship where the algae are obligated to live with the corals, or else the coral dies.  

Do Corals Use Photosynthesis

In most cases, corals do not directly use photosynthesis. Instead, they obtain the byproducts of photosynthesis from the zooplankton they feed. 

In cellular respiration, the coral obtains ATP and gets its life force. 

Feeding Coral at Home 

Now that you know all there is to know about how to feed coral in the open ocean, how do you feed coral in a fish tank? The answer is very similar to how they feed into the sea.

Until recently, keeping coral in a saltwater aquarium was next to impossible. It was difficult because there was no way to control the water quality well-enough to protect the coral from toxins such as nitrates and phosphates. Luckily the science behind aquariums caught up. 

Direct Feeding 

If corals have larger mouths, they usually eat larger prey. Examples include brain coral, elegance, and Plate corals. 

Examples of direct feeding include feeding bigger corals diced fish, frozen plankton, phytoplankton, krill, pieces of shrimp, squid, or clams. Do not overfeed corals. Overfeeding corals can cause a build-up of phosphates and kill the corals. 

Also, corals need a current to flush their digestive tract, so take care not to keep corals in stagnant water, or else they will die. 

However, while feeding your coral, you’ll want to turn the current off. Gently target each coral. Feeding coral in the beginning and the end of the day keeps them in a feeding routine they would follow if they were in the ocean.

Drizzling some food in the tank before feeding each coral can prepare your corals for feeding. You can also try a polyp lab reef booster to stimulate your corals for feeding time. 

Owners should feed their corals several times a week. After the corals adjust to the feeding schedule, they should become more responsive and add color. Usual benefits from consistent feeding schedules include polyp extension, puffier body tissue, increased vibrancy, and increased growth (compared to unfed corals).

Indirect Feeding 

Some corals can survive off the fish who live in the tank. They don’t eat the fish, thank God, but they survive off the scraps the fish leave behind. Bacteria that fish do not consume is a viable food source for corals. 

Different Strokes for Different Corals

Researching how corals eat is the best way to ensure you’re feeding your coral the right food. A food chunk the size of your fingernail is of great value to many Large Polyp corals but is too big for a Zoanthid. 

Owners should research how corals eat in the ocean to decide the best practices to use while keeping corals in the aquarium. Click here to discover more exciting facts about aqua life!

Saltwater Fish Aquarium Setup: 101

A Complete Guide to Setting up a Complex Saltwater Aquarium

Forget the goldfish you got at the fair, click here for a complete guide to setting up a complex saltwater aquarium. It’s not as difficult as you might think.

Keyword(s): saltwater aquarium

Saltwater tanks were around long before Dory helped find little lost Nemo. They’re still enormously popular today. In fact, a 2014 survey by the American Pet Products Association estimated that around 1 million households had a saltwater aquarium.

Starting a saltwater tank – and the subsequent upkeep – used to be quite intense. Today, advanced tools and equipment make it easier than ever. How can you do it? Here is your guide to saltwater tank setup. Continue reading Saltwater Fish Aquarium Setup: 101

SPS and LPS Coral: Your Guide to Care and Feeding

Sworls of Montipora aequituberculata, a core coral, attract fish at Jarvis Island National Wildlife Refuge in the Pacific, about 1,300 miles southwest of Honolulu. (Jim E. Maragos/USFWS)

Corals are among the most diverse and beautiful species of animals on the planet.
LPS coral and SPS coral make for amazing pets but require certain knowledge and equipment.

Coral Biology 101

As with any animal, it is necessary to to appreciate and understand their biology in order to best care for them.

Polyps are individual organisms that make up colonies of corals and anemones. Different species of polyps coalesce to form coral reefs. Countless types of fish and other marine life depend on the coral reefs for shelter.

Their vibrant colors and dreamlike shapes have captured the fascination of many marine biologists and nature lovers throughout history. Ernst Haeckel’s illustrations brilliantly presents their dazzling geometry. They can make unique pets that will stand out in any room of the house.

Unfortunately, changes in the aquatic ecosystems have devastated many coral reefs across the oceans. Much of this is due to human activity. Continue reading SPS and LPS Coral: Your Guide to Care and Feeding

What’s Makes a Bounce Mushroom Coral so Special?

They’ve bounced their way into the hearts of reef aquarium hobbyists and coral lovers all over the world. And who can blame the recipients and seekers of these beautiful additions?

After all, bounce mushroom corals have so much to offer everyone: divers, researchers, enthusiasts and more.

But what’s all the hype about? We’ll walk you through the underwater world of the bounce mushroom coral here so you understand exactly why you need one in your aquarium. Continue reading What’s Makes a Bounce Mushroom Coral so Special?

Zoanthid Care: A Guide for Your Home Aquarium

Zoanthid Care: A Guide for Your Home Aquarium

Are you looking to add unique tropical corals to your home aquarium? Check out this guide to learn more about zoanthid care.

Does your tank lack clusters of tangy blue and stripes of fuchsia? Is it missing a burst of orange from a polyp covered rock?

Zoanthids bring beautiful, subtle life to any tank with their otherworldly grow in vibrant and various colors. Whether you add reef staples like Fire and Ice, or indulge with a little Pineapple Express, the eye-catching effect on your tank will be undeniable.

This zoanthid care guide will tell you everything you need to know to start growing a psychedelic underwater shag carpet of your own. Continue reading Zoanthid Care: A Guide for Your Home Aquarium

The Chaos Aquaculture Difference

I get asked a lot how we do what we do, and what makes us different.   The answer to that isn’t any single reason, it’s the amalgamation of many different strengths from different people. 

Our one common bond is our love of coral and reef tanks.  Regardless of the amount of amazing corals that pass through our hands, we still stop short and marvel at them all.   Coral feeding still captivates us.   Seeing new growth is fuel to our fire.   

Reefing experiences aside, our professional backgrounds have helped propel Chaos forward and put us on the map.   With a combined 40 years experience founding, running, and growing various businesses, we were able to take all that we learned separately and apply it to the coral trade.    The most important aspect of business we’ve learned over the years has been customer service.   We pride ourselves on taking care of our clients and strive to be known as the best in the business in that regard.

We also started Chaos very differently than most other farms start.  The majority of coral vendors start as hobbyists in a small frag tank with a few corals that they’ve had luck with.    Others simply start with a little magnetic frag rack on their main display.    That’s pretty much the opposite of the way Chaos goes about things.    We started by renting a warehouse and putting 1,400 gallons of frag space in.    Then we loaded it with the best equipment the market had to offer.    Our entire farm runs on Ecotech Marine lights, pumps, and wave makers.    Vertex skimmers keep the water clean, and BRS reactors polish it.    RODI I handled with by a custom built AquaFX unit.    Chaos came strong out of the gate and we’re here to stay.     

As cliche as it sounds, at the end of the day it’s team work that makes the dream work.   That’s how we get it done at Chaos Aquaculture.     

-Mike Tavares

-President, Chaos Aquaculture LLC

-Reef Dork since ’94