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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.

What Are Zoanthids?

Zoanthids are immobile marine animals that eat like jelly fish. The tentacles around a zoanthids’ mouth contain explosive stinging cells that release toxins, allowing them to eat small crustaceans like copepods.

They reproduce sexually, or sometimes asexually under the right conditions, and thrive in higher light, higher flow environments.

Your pair of Scrambled Eggs polyps will multiply along a fleshy chain called a stolon, or runners. As new zoanthid polyps form, they stick with old ones and cover rocks, stable hard-ground, or even a snail’s shell.

New polyps could form anywhere from 1 to 5 times a month or more depending on the water conditions, level of stability, and amount of food you feed them.

Different Features of Zoanthids

With over 100 unique varieties of polyps to choose from, picking just one to start your collection seems impossible. The funny names could give you an idea of which color schemes to keep together, but the perfect arrangement depends on your eye.

Here are three of the most breathtaking zoanthid features to include in your tank:

Their Dramatic and Dynamic Colors

Reefers appreciate zoanthids for their brilliant pop of color. Varieties like Super Saiyan showcase the fantastic expression of these little alien coin-like sea critters. The stark contrast of the neon green tentacles surrounding ‘a warm afternoon orange’ colored mouth will catch your eye every time.

Their Mesmerizing Tentacle Tips

To recreate a lush alien planet, you won’t need Avatar’s $237 million budget. You’ll just need some blue zoanthids with neon green tips. Under that already mesmerizing blue LED moonlight, your fluorescent living carpet with glow like the mother-ship is returning home.

Their Unusual Colors

All the free polyp lovin’ under the sea has led to some fascinating zoanthids color combinations, but the most amazing feature about this species’ biodiversity is the presence of the color orange. The ethereal hum of Gatorade zoanthids’ orange color blue-lit underwater has lead many sailors to their ruin. Similarly, yellow zoanthids create a pleasantly radioactive and dusty glow.

The Essentials of Zoanthids Care

Newbie refers and experts alike adore Zoanthids because they’re easy to care for and relatively inexpensive. However, there are somethings you’ll need to learn to keep your tropical reef carpet happy.

What Do They Eat?

Zoanthids love to eat! Happy and well-feed zoanthids grow quickly so make sure to feed them regularly. Some things you can feed zoanthids include:

  • Specially engineered coral reef food
  • Brine shrimp, krill, plankton and copepods
  • Rotifers, lancefish and bloodworms
  • Sunlight (through photosynthesis)
  • Vitamin and amino acid supplements

Just mix any food you want to feed your zoanthids with a bit of tank water and squirt it over the polyps with a turkey baster. It’s crazy to see the tentacles grab particles from the water and bring them in to the mouth. It’s alive!

Here Comes The Sun

While zoanthids are simple to propagate and popular among beginners for their tolerance of a wide range of light intakes, they thrive best in high light environments. With more light, your polyps will grow bigger and faster, and have better, brighter colors.

Keep Things Stable

If you have one job with zoanthids, it’s to keep things stable. A drop in temperature overnight shrivels the tentacles and fades the color.

Keep the temperature consistent between transitioning seasons if you want these little dudes to survive. The ideal temperature seems to be around 78°F.

You’ll also want to run frequent tests to check the salinity, alkalinity, and the magnesium and calcium levels of your water. Change the water regularly to replace the easily depleted alkalinity, and the minerals consumed during coral growth. This will also remove excess nutrients to maintain the tank water’s stability.

Things To Watch Out For

Your new underwater space creatures wouldn’t be so gosh darn interesting without a little danger. These wiggling water aliens even have their own version of chicken pox.


Yes, unfortunately these beautiful creatures contain polytoxin, a powerful blood-slowing poison. Chances are you won’t die from handling a zoanthids, but don’t go rubbing a fresh cut on your hand against one or try to kill them with boiling water.

It’s best to wear gloves when handling zoanthids and goggles when cutting them to avoid actual poison squirting up into your eye.

Wash your hands with soap and water after handling.

Zoa Pox

Chicken noodle soup won’t solve this case of the pox.

Zoa pox is a disease that spreads deep inside the zoa stocks, leaving small white or yellow marks that appear most clearly when the coral is closed and in the dark.

Two reefers probably couldn’t agree on the main cause of the disease. Some say it’s a breech in feeding schedule, while others point to a rouge voltage. Most just blame it on a stressful change in temperature for the zoanthids.

To remedy your zoanthids’ case of the pox:

  • Turn off the lights in the tank for a while to allow the zoanthids to close up some before treatment (some may not even opened with the light due to the infection)
  • Add one pack of Furan-2 per two cups of tank water in a disposable container
  • Stir for several minutes or until medication is completely dissolved (this might take a while)
  • Add closed polyps to medicated solution
  • Soak zoanthids for no longer than 30-minutes
  • Lightly agitate the water to reincorporate settled medicine
  • Repeat once every 24 hours for three days
  • Rinse zoanthids with tank water in a second container to remove excess medicine and pox residue from coral before returning to tank
  • Wait 4-7 days to assess healing before repeating

Get Your Zoanthids Carpet Garden Started

Now that you know the basics of zoanthid care, it’s time to grow your mystic underwater collection. Start out with cheaper varieties to test your set up and maintenance abilities. Some variations cost a little as $5 per polyp.

Pick up your favorite zoanthids, soft corals and more from the Chaos Aquaculture Store here.