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Zoanthid Corals - A Soft Coral Superstar

Zoanthids (Zoanthus sp.), more frequently referred to as Zoas, are formerly known as Cnidarians and are usually referred to as colonial anemones by the scientific community. You will also be shocked to know that the Zoanthid coral is not really coral at all, even though it is popularly referred to as such. Because of this, they are sometimes mistaken for sponges, ascidians, sea anemones and other blob-like fish types, making the identification of Zoanthid very tricky.

The ideal Zoanthid Garden has been strongly transformed by aquarists. These are tiny polyps that come in a large range of colors and mimic a bouquet of small flowers. They occur in tight clusters of individual polyps that share a mat of tissue that ties all the polyps together. Aquarists have been known to be so intrigued by Zoanthids that they set out to collect potentially hundreds of different color morphs. Zoanthid corals are ideal for beginner aquarists because they can handle a wide variety of light and water temperature. It is important to be aware that Zoanthids are rising very rapidly. Due to the fast-growing nature of these soft corals, it is advisable to split each variety with sand between various islands so that you can monitor their growth. Otherwise, one color Zoanthid will take over the whole tank!

Zoanthid Taxonomy & Identification For Reefers

It can be difficult to understand how to recognize coral species and other sea organisms. Zoas are no different. Luckily, as long as you have a few guidelines in mind, identification becomes much easier. Although there are many ways to differentiate Zoas from its relatives, below are some of the most important tips to know:


  • Zoanthids may look like tiny sea anemones, but unlike anemones living alone, Zoas prefers to live in colonies like corals.

  • Since they don't develop stiff skeletons, the tissue of Zoa is quite leathery.

  • Usually, polyps have a cylindrical body column that looks like a funnel with a flat round disk at the end. I prefer to think of this disk as a fancy cap. Stemming off this "hat" are tiny tentacles, which are often separated into two rows that rest close together.

  • Its coloring may vary, but in general, Zoas features a splash of color in the middle of the disk that changes into darker colors to the tentacles. The variety of colors Zoas has come in is one of the key reasons that so many reefs flock to this genus. Its multicolored nature turns boring aquascaping into a work of art.

  • Zoas exposed to higher flow rates, or to strong waves in the wild, are usually shorter and more widespread. Those who live in calmer waters prefer to grow higher bodies with longer tentacles.
    Although the individual polyps appear to be on the small side, normally less than 1 inch, the colony can spread and expand at a rapid rate.


Some Of Our Favorite Zoas

Candy Apple Zoanthids 

Our Candy Apple Zoanthids comes in a visually eclectic blend of rainbow colors. It sports a gorgeous blue eye surrounded by a piercing orange and sporting a rich lime and purple skirt. This Zoa is easy to care for, requiring a small amount of phytoplankton/rotifers daily as standard with medium water flow. 

Ked Red Zoanthids

With its awe inspiring bright blend of colors, the Ked Red Zoanthids makes an ideal showcase for any marine environment. With blues, oranges, purples and pinks, the Ked Red Zoa really packs a punch. A perfect coral for beginners looking to start a Zoa garden. 

Baby Back Blue Eyes Zoanthids

The Baby Back Blue Eyes Zoanthids coral has an amazing orange yellow color encompassing the center surrounded by a stunningly beautiful baby blue. This color combination is truly a sight to behold. Again, this is a great option for beginners, making them a very popular choice.

Pink Panther Zoanthids

A beautiful and striking coral makesPink Panther Zoanthids an ideal choice for any aquarist, and they are even suitable for beginner saltwater tank owners. These Zoas appear almost neon with their vibrant pink center and short, purple tentacles. 

Merry Christmas Zoanthids

If you’re looking for a bold splash of color, you won’t be disappointed with the Merry Christmas Zoanthid. This beginner coral is vibrant red at the end of the tentacles with a purple to blue tentacle base, with a green to yellow center. These small polyps need phytoplankton or rotifers daily.


Zoanthid Coral Care

Although they can accommodate a broader variety of water parameters, this does not negate the obligation to have the best water conditions you can as detailed below:

Temperature: min 77 °F / max 79 °F

pH: 8.0 - 8.4

Alkalinity: 8-11 dkh

Salinity: 1.025 - 1.027 

Nitrate: Below 10 ppm

Phosphate: Below 0.05 ppm

As Zoas do not have calcified skeleton walls, they can be more tolerant of alkaline, calcium, and magnesium swings relative to other corals. They would not, though, be particularly tolerant of pH, temperature, or salinity swings that are no different from any other coral or fish.

These are among the most tolerant corals at various lighting stages. Ses corals contain zooxanthellae within their shell, so they can get much of their nutrients from the illumination of your tank. This is why it is important to have the correct level of lighting in your tank and to watch for signs that your level of lighting might not be accurate. These corals can also obtain nutrients from the water in the form of microplankton and zooplankton and may benefit from occasional spot feeding. They'll do their best when they get the nutrients they need from both the water and the lighting on your tank. They are not capable of higher rates of flow. If it looks like the heads are not fully opened, attempt to position them in a lower flow area.

We always love to see your reef aquariums, especially with beautiful additions such as Zoa corals! Don’t forget to send us your pictures via our website here, or find us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!

Feel free to download the coral food quick guide. 

Have requests for us?  Send us an email with the subject line Coral Frags for Sale and let us know what you are looking for! 


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