It is hard to argue the beauty of a zoanthid and when used to landscape your reef aquarium, they create a mat of color that is simply breathtaking. These colonial polyps are available in pretty much any color or combination of colors you can imagine which is a big part of why collecting the various color morphs is such a popular approach for reef aquarists.

When cared for properly zoanthids and the related palythoa (often called zoas and plays) are relatively hardy and fast-growing making them an ideal candidate for first-time reef tank owners. They "encrust" the rock surfaces in your tank creating colonies of individual flower-shaped polyps. They range in price from being extremely affordable to quite expensive depending on the particular color morph and rarity.

Palytoxin Warning: Certain Zoanthids and Palythoa can contain palytoxin which is a deadly toxin to humans. Under normal circumstances, zoanthids and palythoa do not pose a threat because the toxin must be ingested. That said, a couple of hobbyists have fallen victim to palytoxin poisoning while attempting to clean old live rock by boiling it. The polyps that remained on the rock released the palytoxin during boiling which then became aerosolized and was inhaled causing hospitalization. As long as you don't boil rock, you shouldn't have a thing to worry about. Regardless, always wear gloves, goggles, and a mask when handling (especially fragging) zoanthids and palythoa.   

Environmental Conditions & Care Requirements

Zoanthids will thrive under a variety of conditions in an aquarium and the same variety will often display different traits and colors under varying environmental conditions. Some types tend to be hardier and much faster growing than others regardless of environmental conditions but nonetheless, these cnidarians are one of the best beginner corals because of their relatively easy care requirements and hardiness.

  • Lighting: They are flexible and will thrive in low to high light zones. Most shoot for the LPS PAR range of 75 - 150 PAR. 
  • Flow: Low to medium flow tends to be their preference.
  • Parameters: Stable reef tank parameters with balanced nutrient levels. They are considered soft corals and will not uptake calcium and alkalinity from the water as stony corals do. 
  • Feeding: They do appreciate regular spot feeding at least 1-3 times per week with small particle-sized coral foods.

Aquascaping and Placement

When stocking and placing zoanthids in a reef, aquarists usually take one of two approaches. They can be great for filling open areas of rock in between other corals or you can arrange various color morphs together and create a zoa garden. Collecting various color morphs is very popular and many hobbyists dedicate a rock island or corner of the aquarium for various strains of zoanthids and palythoa to grow together.

  • Sand: Special Grade Reef Sand is our favorite and the best-selling sand for reef tanks because of its grain size. 
  • Aquascape: Zoanthids encrust over the rocks so give them plenty of surface area to cover. Creating islands is a great way to showcase the variety of different zoanthids in your collection. They can grow vertically and will grow up a wall or even on your equipment. 
  • Placement: They can really be placed anywhere there is an open rock face to cover but remember that other corals can sting and irritate them and vice versa. While different zoanthids and palythoa can often grow side by side in harmony, be mindful of neighboring corals. Pay attention to the palette of colors you're creating and place complementary colors side by side to paint a more vibrant picture. Use bone cutters to break or remove as much of the frag plug or disc as possible before gluing them into your tank. 

Equipment & Gear

Special thanks to World Wide Corals for supplying all of the zoanthids featured in this video. 

 

Design Your Aquarium

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Prime 16 LED Fuge...

Aquarium Kit Contents

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Innovative Marine Nuvo 20 Bundle

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Innovative Marine Nuvo 20 Bundle

The IM Nuvo 20 Tank Wizard Bundle has everything you need to start a successful 20 gallon reef tank:

  • 1x Innovative Marine 20 Gallon NUVO Fusion PRO 2 AIO Aquarium Bundle
  • 1x MightyJet 326 GPH Return Pump w/ Controller
  • 1x Removable 200 Micron Filter Sock
  • 1x Desktop CustomCaddy Media Basket w/ PurityPack Filter Media Including:
  • 1x Mechanical Fiber Ball
  • 1x Premium 0.8 ROX Carbon Pack
  • 1x High Capacity Coarse GFO Pack
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JBJ RF-25 Tank Wizard Bundle

JBJ RF-25 Bundle

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JBJ RF-25 Tank Wizard Bundle

The JBJ RF-25 Tank Wizard Bundle provides the perfect foundation for a simple & elegant reef system:

  • JBJ RF-25 Flat Panel 25 Gallon AIO Aquarium
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  • 1x 4" Micron Filter Sock w/ Removable Cradle
  • 1x Flare Return Nozzle
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Innovative Marine Nuvo 20 Peninsula Bundle

Innovative Marine Nuvo 20 Peninsula Bundle

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Innovative Marine Nuvo 20 Peninsula Bundle
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Innovative Marine Nuvo 20 Peninsula Bundle

The IM Nuvo 20 Peninsula Tank Wizard Bundle has everything you need to start a successful 20 gallon reef tank:

  • 1x Innovative Marine 20 Gallon Peninusula NUVO Fusion PRO 2 AIO Aquarium Bundle
  • 1x MightyJet 326 GPH Return Pump w/ Controller
  • 1x Removable 200 Micron Filter Sock
  • 1x Desktop CustomCaddy Media Basket w/ PurityPack Filter Media Including:
  • 1x Mechanical Fiber Ball
  • 1x Premium 0.8 ROX Carbon Pack
  • 1x High Capacity Coarse GFO Pack
  • 1x Preinstalled Rubber Leveling Mat
  • 1x Pre-Assembled SafeScreen Mesh Screen Lid
  • 1x MicroMag Glass Cleaner
  • 2x Nuvo Return Nozzles
  • 2x High Tide Water Risers
  • 1x Black IM Nuvo Fusin 20 Peninsula APS Cabinet Aquarium Stand
  • 1x 100W AquaEL Ultra Heater
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  • 55 Gallons RedSea Aquarium Salt Mix
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Lights

AI Prime w/ Gooseneck Bundle

AI Prime w/ Gooseneck Bundle

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AI Prime w/ Gooseneck Bundle
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AI Prime w/ Gooseneck Tank Wizard Bundle

The World’s Most Popular Reef LED

The newest innovation in the Prime line from AquaIllumination, the Prime 16 HD Series brings more power and color where you want it, plus the freedom to use your smartphone as a controller. No longer are you limited to using a fixed amount of power per channel, the Prime 16HD dynamically adjusts power available to each color, borrowing power from the colors you’re not utilizing. Giving you the most vivid spectrum your tank has ever seen. The Prime 16 HD Series is capable of producing a limitless number of spectral combinations to fit your tank’s exacting needs.

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Prism II LED Light Fixture 12-20 Inch - Marine

Prism II LED Light Fixture 12-20 Inch - Marine

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Prism II LED Light Fixture 12-20 Inch - Marine
AquaMaxx

Prism II LED Light Fixture 12-20 Inch - Marine

Thinner. Lighter. Smarter.

The new thinner and lighter AquaMaxx Prism II controllable full HD spectrum LED fixture is created from 100% recycled aluminum. Its brushed silver, ultra-slim profile design gives it an aesthetic edge over the competition, and its updated external smart controller includes 6 customizable set points of light intensity and can be used to control additional devices such as pumps, skimmers, cooling fans, and more!

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Kessil A160 w/ Gooseneck

Kessil A160 w/ Gooseneck

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Kessil A160 w/ Gooseneck
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Kessil A160 w/ Gooseneck Bundle

The Kessil A160WE Tuna Blue is perfect for nano and pico saltwater aquariums. Emitting a spectrum range of 10,000K to 20,000K, it's the perfect light for fast growth and coloration of corals. Pair the A160WE up with a Kessil A-series gooseneck for an easy and quick mounting solution.

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Rocks

Reef Saver Aquarium Dry Live Rock

Reef Saver Aquarium Dry Live Rock

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Reef Saver Aquarium Dry Live Rock
MarcoRocks

Reef Saver Aquarium Dry Live Rock

MarcoRocks Reef Saver Live Rock is one of the most unique rocks that are available on the market today. Reef Saver is a sustainable product since it is not taken directly from the ocean and does not impact living coral reef structures in any form. Combined with their chemical-free cleaning process MarcoRocks is always 100% free of nuisance algae or any type of pests.

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LifeRock Nano Reef Kit

LifeRock Nano Reef Kit

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LifeRock Nano Reef Kit
CaribSea

LifeRock Nano Reef Kit

CaribSea's Nano Reef Kit includes 2 LifeRock Nano Arches plus 1 small Original LifeRock dry rock piece.

LifeRock is infused with spored bacteria to aid in biological performance, along with millions of micro and macro passage ways CaribSea's LifeRock Dry Rock is perfect for the environmentally friendly aquarist.

  • Creates a mature looking reef instantly
  • 100% safe for all marine animals
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Nano LifeRock Dry Live Rock - 10 lbs

Nano LifeRock Dry Live Rock - 10 lbs

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Nano LifeRock Dry Live Rock - 10 lbs
CaribSea

Nano LifeRock Dry Live Rock - 10 lbs

LifeRock is infused with spored bacteria to aid in biological performance, along with millions of micro and macro passage ways CaribSea's LifeRock Dry Rock is perfect for the environmentally friendly aquarist.

  • Creates a mature looking reef instantly
  • 100% safe for all marine animals
  • Unique pieces
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Sand

20 lb. Hawaiian Black Arag-Alive! Reef Sand

20 lb. Hawaiian Black Arag-Alive! Reef Sand

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20 lb. Hawaiian Black Arag-Alive! Reef Sand
CaribSea

Hawaiian Black Arag-Alive! Live Reef Sand

Caribsea's Hawaiian Black Arag-Alive! Live Reef Sand is a great choice for new aquarists and new reef tank setups. Arag-Alive sands clear quickly and contain millions of live bacteria, speeding up your tanks cycle and leading to less nuisance algae.

Features

  • Contains live bacteria to assist with a faster cycle
  • Grain size: 0.25 - 3.5mm
  • High Surface Area for Bacteria

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20 lb. Hawaiian Black Arag-Alive! Reef Sand

20 lb. Special Grade Arag-Alive! Reef Sand

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20 lb. Hawaiian Black Arag-Alive! Reef Sand
CaribSea

20 lb. Special Grade Arag-Alive! Reef Sand

Why does BRS recommend this?

When we at Bulk Reef Supply set up a tank that we know will have large amounts of flow our instant choice for sand is the Arag-Alive Special Grade Sand from CaribSea. With its larger particle size, it does not get pushed around like most other smaller grain sand sizes available and is great for all tanks especially those with a lot of water movement.

Special Grage Arag-Alive! Live Aragonite Reef Sand contains millions of live bacteria to create a natural biological balance in your reef tank.

  • Contains live bacteria to assist with a faster cycle
  • Grain size: 1-2mm
  • High Surface Area for Bacteria
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20 lb. Fiji Pink Arag-Alive! Reef Sand

Fiji Pink Arag-Alive! Live Reef Sand

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20 lb. Fiji Pink Arag-Alive! Reef Sand
CaribSea

Fiji Pink Arag-Alive! Live Reef Sand

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If we had to choose a single type of sand for any tank, it would be the Arag-Alive Fiji Pink sand. It is by far the most popular sand for its medium to large grain size, high amount of total available surface area, as well as just its overall beauty.

Caribsea's Arag-Alive! Live Reef Sand is a great choice for new aquarists and new reef tank setups. Arag-Alive sands clear quickly and contain millions of live bacteria, speeding up your tanks cycle and leading to less nuisance algae.

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  • live bacteria to assist with a faster cycle
  • Grain size: 0.5-1.5mm
  • Most popular size for reef sand
  • High Surface Area for Bacteria
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