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FAQs about Zoanthid Compatibility, Control 3

Related Articles: Zoanthids, Sea Mat: An Ocean Of Color For The Aquarium by Blane Perun,

Related FAQs: Zoanthid Compatibility/Control 1, Zoanthid Comp./Control 2, Zoanthid Comp./Control 4, & Cnidarian Compatibility, Zoanthids, Zoanthids 2, Zoanthids 3, Zoanthid ID, Zoanthid Behavior, Zoanthid Selection, Zoanthid System, Zoanthid Lighting, Zoanthid Feeding, Zoanthid Health, Zoanthid Reproduction,

Three New MASNA Education Pages
The Marine Zoonotic Disease article (
The Zoanthids and Palytoxin article (
The Impacts of Releasing Marine Ornamental Species article (

Reef Tank Causing Respiratory Distress; Zoanthids...        1/28/16
<Hola, Earl here.>
A little back-story: My 130 gal reef was broken down into a temporary setup for 3 months due to a silicone defect while the new aquarium was built. Without proper filtration dinoflagellates took root, smothered and killed most of the corals, but the fish/inverts seem OK and 4 days ago I transferred the inhabitants and rock to the new 240 gal system.
<OK Sarah I am sure Bob and some others will have more to say on this but I wanted to give you an immediate heads-up because this is potentially as serious as a heart attack, literally. Look up palytoxins. It is very likely you have "Palys", button polyps, Zoanthids (zoos), such similar in your tank, no? Stress or physical damage or attempts to remove them/kill them
can cause them to release a very dangerous neurotoxin specific to these animals. This needs to be taken extremely seriously...I have heard incredulity from people on the seriousness of this but please know it is definitely something that needs to be dealt with asap, with a cool head.
The symptoms you describe are classic.
http://www.asanltr.com/newsletter/02-2/articles/Neurotoxins.htm  has some good and detailed info. Also check the faq's on WWM regarding this. I have some friends in my reef club who had a very similar occurrence which included hospitalization for 2 of the family. It particularly attacks the respiratory system. The CDC says:
http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6431a4.htm.  The first well-reported hobby-related instance commonly known http://www.advancedaquarist.com/blog/personal-experiences-with-palytoxin-poisoning-almost-killed-myself-wife-and-dogs  >
The last few days my husband comes home from work and develops an immediate runny nose and if either of us work on the tank our sinuses burn, develop slight chest discomfort, irritability, clouded thinking, watery eyes and sore throat. We noticed a correlation between our symptoms and working in or near the system and have ruled out possible irritants in the house. The aquarium is plumbed into the basement and we notice the worst effects while in the sump room - last night we set up the skimmer and carbon in a reactor and were quite uncomfortable after.
If it were hydrogen sulfide, I'd expect to have disturbed a sand bed, which I have not.
If it were palytoxin, I'd expect to be severe.
<Please see above. See a doctor quickly for some alleviation and have some of this printed out as it's unlikely to be known to most physicians.
Remember Rule 1: Don't Panic but do decontaminate (nuke with bleach) possibly contaminated gear, etc.. And please follow up your email here with updates as a follow-up as to how things go.>
There's about 10 heads of Zoas in the reef total, although, they are not open.
If it were toxins from the Dinoflagellates, I would expect my CUC to die off - in fact, it's the opposite, the urchin has recently started eating it.
Please chime in, the unknown is making us uneasy.
Re: Reef Tank Causing Respiratory Distress       1/28/16

Thanks for the prompt response, I'm familiar with palytoxin and it's why I've never been a Zoa gardener, but there are about 10 heads of stressed Zoas in the tank, stressed from the dino outbreak I presume.
I think I'm going to cut the large stylo colony off and whip that Zoa rock in the snow.
<Will share this w/ Earl, but want to respond as well. Yes to (carefully) removing the rock/Zoanthids to elsewhere. I would also run a good deal (pounds) of GAC (carbon) and maybe PolyFilter in the system); do a few consecutive daily water changes (to dilute)>
The tank transfer was 4 days ago and for the past 2 we've noticed the symptoms. Didn't boil rock, or leave it out of the water for more than a minute or so. I also wonder if disturbing the dinoflagellates released some kind of toxin. While our symptoms are present, they aren't severe.
<See, read on WWM re others archived accounts. Trouble. Bob Fenner>
Re: Reef Tank Causing Respiratory Distress. Zoanthids       2/23/16

Thanks for the prompt response, I'm familiar with palytoxin and it's why I've never been a Zoa gardener, but there are about 10 heads of stressed Zoas in the tank, stressed from the dino outbreak I presume.
I think I'm going to cut the large stylo colony off and whip that Zoa rock in the snow.
The tank transfer was 4 days ago and for the past 2 we've noticed the symptoms. Didn't boil rock, or leave it out of the water for more than a minute or so. I also wonder if disturbing the dinoflagellates released some kind of toxin.
<Not likely discernible by humans>
While our symptoms are present, they aren't severe.
<I'd be reading (on WWM, elsewhere) re Zoanthid toxic effects, removing these animals (the whole rock they're on); running GAC and more... NOW.... READ here:
and the linked files in the series (above). Bob Fenner>
Re: Reef Tank Causing Respiratory Distress; Zoas     2/24/16

Thank you for the add'l info, I truly appreciate our correspondence.
<VERY glad to help>
After running 2 lbs of carbon, PolyFilters & w/c's we no longer experience symptoms
<Thank goodness>

near the reef tank and then what seemed like a secondary cold set in for both of us - 3 weeks of moderate to severe
sore throat, chest congestion and runny nose. All has returned to normal and I'll share this info with the locals.
Thanks again,
<Thank you for your report. Bob Fenner>

Mushrooms and Zoanthids... allelopathy, starvation knocked on, reading and great self-discovery!   10/10/13
I have hard and soft coral systems that range from Acros to polyps and everything in between. My levels are acceptable if not near perfect for all of my tanks.

The tanks in question are a 75g drilled with 30 g sump. 80
watt led lighting, PhosGuard in a reactor,
<... you realize chemo- photo-synthetic life requires measurable soluble HPO4>

carbon in a bag a week out of the month, SeaChem matrix, refugium, two 750 gph powerheads, 1250 gph
Ammonia, nitrite, nitrate 0
<... sigh: and measurable NO3. Please read on WWM re>

 phosphate less than .25, alk11, ph 8.22
daytime, I feed a mix of flakes heavily, bribe
<Brine likely; Artemia>
 shrimp once a week, phyto once a week.
<See WWM re this as well. Of little use in most settings>

Dose AquaVitro ions, calcification, 8.4, fuel once a week to where Mag stays around 1300, calcium 420, iodine at .06, iron not registering with my red sea test kit, but fuel has iron, so not sure if the test does not pick up this particular type of iron or what. Potassium at 385. This tank houses only soft corals and a tube anemone
<Cerianthus? Not compatible... see WWM re this as well>

 along with fish and inverts. The problem I am having is with mushrooms melting, Ricordea shrinking and detaching, and Zoas melting away.
<... after you're done searching, reading, you'll understand why. How to put it/this: Your problems are obvious>

<Likely "Palys">
do great, leathers do great, polyps do great. Tank has been up for two years and this started with just the Zoas 3 months ago. More recently, I have a separate soft coral frag system, 200 g, 2200 gph pump, divided into 4 stair step tanks.
One section has mushrooms and leathers, one has polyps , other two house fish. My Ricordea are starting to shrivel and detach in this tank as well.
It has same readings and fixings except ph is 8.16 daytime, nitrates are at 5ppm, and the lighting is 120 watts led 24" off the tank over a 75g area.
Both systems have skimmers,
dsb, ample live rock.
<.... So... what are your choices? Provide or don't eliminate needed nutrients, and either remove the Ceriantharian, or the other mal-affected Cnidarian life. Keep reading. Bob Fenner>
re: Mushrooms and Zoanthids  10/10/13

What is WWM?
re: Mushrooms and Zoanthids... "I (don't) want to hold your ha ha ha ha ha hand!"   10/10/13

I see, wet web media, what should I read and which section can I find it in?
<... the indices; search tool... on all 12k some pages... the topics listed on your first query... B>
Re: Mushrooms and Zoanthids... comp. f's  10/12/13

So I read tons of post and answers on wwm. Thank you for the great knowledge base and for answering all these questions so there is such a vast reference to pull from. First I removed my tube anemone from my 75 and added carbon. I also added carbon to my 200 g frag system. Other than carbon and a water change, which is coming tomorrow, is there anything else
I can do to prevent this from happening again if and when it gets fixed?
<Mmm, yes; a few things. Principal amongst these is careful introduction of any new stinging-celled life... The SOP mentioned over and over to "mix water" back and forth from the isolation/quarantine with your display system you intend to move the animal/colony to>
Also are the palytoxins from plays poisonous to the Zoanthids?
<Yes; some more so than others>
And why are they not affecting any polyps or leathers? Thx
<They are better competitors... less susceptible to Terpenoid warfare.
Re: Mushrooms and Zoanthids... allelopathy likely      10/21/13

So, I have done a 25g water change and changed carbon twice in my 75g softies tank, and done 50g and changed carbon twice in my 200 g soft only frag system. My Ricordeas in both systems, 5 different colors and kinds, have either shrunk into nothing or shrunk under 1/4" from2-4". I tried another Zoanthid in my 75 with no avail.
<Tried another? You added another colony to a system that is having allelopathogenic issues? Why?>

 I have continued adding AquaVitro fuel and Vibrance, iodine, alternating days since iodine is so easily and quickly skimmed out.  I just don't know else to do, or what's wrong???
<Can't tell from the information provided... I would subdue the lighting, keep up alkalinity... 9 plus... move the Zoanthids out, the Corallimorpharians to if you have other established systems... and keep reading. Bob Fenner>

Zoanthids exposure to air; sponge control    8/12/13
I have an opaque jelly like substance growing or the rock structure around my Zoanthids.  I have been told that it is a natural sponge and to get rid of it I should expose the rock and inhabitants to the air.  This will kill the sponge and not harm the Zoas.  HELP, please!!!
<Mmm, I don't think this exposure will work; and I want to super reemphasize that you should take extreme care when handling Zoanthids...
I'd likely simply ignore the sponge... it may well recede on its own (happens all the time). IF you are interested in moving/removing the sponge. I would read the compatibility FAQs on WWM re... Bob Fenner>
C. Anderson

Bicolor angel and Zoas, comp.    7/3/13
Hi Crew,
Just sent you an email regarding my CBB and now I would like your thoughts on my Bicolor angel.
Quick info, DT: 500g soft coral reef that's been running for 1.5 yrs. All param.s in check. tons of copepods and amphipods living in an ever growing bundle of Chaeto. Fish include regal, yellow tangs and a host of small fish (clowns, damsels, Anthias, a bicolor angel and a flame angel)
The bicolor is one of my oldest fish and is now part of the family. I currently have 3 large Paly colonies (had for a year) that he doesn't even look twice at. So today I added 4 rocks of bright orange Zoanthids. The Zoas are smaller polyps than the Palys and the first thing the angel did was to come up to one rock and completely rip two polyp stalks out. the stalks floated away and settled on another rock and the angel never did anything about them. since then he keeps swimming around looking curiously at one of the new rock colonies but not doing very much. I've seen him nip the top of the colony again twice but he didn't uproot anything. Not sure whats going on here.
<Likely "just" sampling>
 The Zoas remained open through all this.
Question I have is: is it normal for a angel to show interest in some button polyps but not others?
<Anything new is of interest, yes. Think on how you've trained the fish/es to anticipate food/feeding>

why would it uproot the stalks but not eat them? the uprooting has stopped and he didn't nip anything for the rest of the day. Should I be worried?
 was he just sampling them?
 do you think his interest will die eventually? I feed my fish  quite heavily, so I'm hoping this is a phase.
<Welcome. BobF>

Vibrio vulnificus and palytoxin. Warning, and question re possible acuity interaction    5/5/13
Hi all. in last 4 months i had several problems with palytoxin ( 2 times ended up to ER), all times by contact with intact skin (hands, forearms)First time i removed the most recent Palythoa colony  from the tank, then sent it to a lab , resulting in strong presence of palytoxin and Vibrio vulnificus.
<Aye ya!>
After 2 months, as soon as i clean my tank i felt very bad and went to ER again  with severe symptoms including chills, muscle and joint pains, very low pressure and high level of CPK (rhabdomyolysis), all symptoms that confirm palytoxin poisoning.
So i removed the old Palythoa colony (in 10 years they never gave me a problem , even while fragmenting, brushing, dipping in h2o2 for zoapox), sent it to the lab and resulting venomous as well and infected by Vibrio vulnificus. My questions are:- maybe this Vibrio turned my normal Palys in a killer ones?
<Mmm, don't know>
- after removing all Palys, is there a risk that other kind of corals become venomous?
<Also; but I strongly doubt it/this>
- how can i remove Vibrio vulnificus from the tank? (high salinity? h202?
competing bacteria? Lourdes water?)Thanks and sorry for my bad English, I'm Italian. Manuel Ricci
<... I'd keep my bare hands out (wear arm length gloves, use tools) and use ozone to raise, sustain ORP; keep gravel vacuuming, changing good volumes of water weekly (25% or so). Bob Fenner>

Boiling Liverock almost killed my household the other night.
Zoanthid/human mal-interaction     1/12/13
Good afternoon guys--
I am finally feeling well enough to get out of bed and fully function so I wanted to send a documented email to you to explain our experience.
<Please do share>
The day of the 1/10/13 I purchased a few new corals for my 72g Bow reef aquarium. On my way home I mentally played with changing my aquascape a bit to fit my new corals, and open my tank up a bit for better flow.
5pm and the new corals are acclimating. Since the corals I purchased were Acans, I needed real estate at the bottom of the tank since I am running MHlighting mixed with130w PC actinics. I decided to start re-aquascaping.630pm and the aquascape is now done and looks great. In that time frame I decided to rid my tank of roughly 15lbs of Liverock. I had the extra rock
that was moved sitting next to the tank in a pot. I wanted to save this rock for later use, but I have nowhere to allow it to dry out since we live in an apartment complex so I decided to boil it. Yes, this is where the trouble started.
7pm and the rock is boiling on the stove and I am doing my daily duties around the house before my wife comes home from work.
730pm my wife arrives home, and on a whim we decided to go out for dinner.
By this time the water in the pot is full boil so I cut the stove off and place the pot on the back burner.
8pm we leave for dinner and I notice that my nose is tingling much like having allergies. I suffer from hay fever so I know the signs of my allergies coming on. Once we arrived at the restaurant my nose was pouring like I had a cold and my wife started to complain of a tight chest and a cough. We pushed through it not thinking anything of it.
10pm and we arrive home and we are both sick. Thinking that we are both getting the Flu or a nasty cold we bundled up warm to take our dogs out (110lb Lab and 70lb Golden Retriever) to do their nightly duties. I feel short of breath and my wife and I have a nasty headache, even though we are completely bundled up we are freezing cold. After the outing with the dogs
we sit down on the couch to relax and watch a bit of TV before we go to bed. Both of us are sick and grumpy. Body aches, headache, sneezing, running nose and labored breathing. We call it a night and go to bed.
1pm and the our Lab wakes us up to a flurry of vomiting. We clean it up and go back to bed feeling worse than when we went to bed the first time.
Now we cannot fall asleep. My wife is moaning and stating that she feels like she has the Flu. I feel the same and know something is going on in the house. I don't want to alarm her so I refrain from teller her how bad I actually feel as well.
130pm and she is asleep but I am noticing both dogs are breathing very heavy and restless. Our Lab gets up and goes into the kitchen and from a weird smell I realized that he defecated. I wake my wife up and we clean it up. by this time she is moaning and groaning. I take the dog out and he walks maybe 20 feet and lays down. Anyone that has a Lab knows this is not typical behaviour for the breed. I got him up, he urinated and the defecated and laid back down. I was finally able to get him in to find my wife back in bed stating that she may want to go to the ER. She stated she felt like she was dying. I have never heard he whimper and moan like this.
I was feeling just as bad but pushing through it but felt horrid and almost morbid.
2am and I come up with the idea we have mold issues. We had a flood 2 weeks prior that flooded out my car and made its way into the crawl space below our apartment complex. I search and search for mold but cannot find any.
230am and I walk into the kitchen again. In the corner of my eye I see the pot of boiled rocks and the light bulb in my head went off like a Nuclear explosion. I jump on the PC and search for coral poisoning and find that certain types of Zoanthids find their way onto Liverock. This is evident in my tank as there are ugly zoos on some of my rock. I then find that
these types of polyps contain Palytoxin.
245pm and off to the ER for both of us. Prior to leaving I took to pot of rocks and dumped them onto the lawn outside and rushed out.
330pm and we are rushed into the ER with difficulty breathing. The Dr and Practitioner see us both at the same time and listen to my story. I explain how I boiled life rock from my saltwater aquarium and think I poisoned myself and wife as well as dogs by these little polyp things that may have been attached to the rock. I still believe that he thought we were nuts
and were looking for pain meds. After running our vitals, he finds me with a fever of 101.5, wife @ 101.3 and both of us had high blood pressure readings. He asks me, " do you guys want any pain meds?" My answer was to the effect of "Doc, we aren't druggies, we don't need pain meds, we need to know what they hell is going on." I think that squared that thought
process away in his mind.
430pm and he comes back with questions about Palytoxin. Imagine that, the doctor is asking me about a toxic substance in corals. He states he has never come across anything like this before and needs more information. I explain to him to read online as there has been a few documented cases of Palytoxin being ingested causing serious side affects. I also explain I am not a Marine Biologist so I do not have any type of info that would pertain to treating it. He states that he has researched it and found a few documented cases, and also called Poison control. Poison control stated that he could only treat the symptoms if the patient was still "alive" and let it run its course. Prior to all this at around the 330 mark I would assume, they started IVs and took blood and urine samples as well as chest x-rays. the chest x-rays came back with symptoms of Bronchitis.
5am. After our conversation about poison control they gave us Steroid breathing treatments to ease our difficulty breathing and Tylenol for our fevers. He placed us on heart and oxygen monitors and said that its just a waiting game and he will monitor us for a while and we should both get some sleep.
We left the ER at roughly 9pm feeling much better but still in a lot of chest pain. Two days later, both of us are still feeling the effects of the toxin. When we take a deep breath our chest hurts like we have been in a pool or water for too long. Growing up on the beach we called it being water logged. Our abdomens hurt horribly from the violent coughing we are
experiencing. We are both on Ventolin Inhalers and 800mg's of Motrin as well as Z-Pack's for any type of bacteria we inhaled. We were also advised to see a respiratory specialist in the near future. Both dogs are fine now, we opened the windows and allowed any residual toxins to vent out.
Going back to the point of boiling, I do not recall if there were any polyps on the rocks. I can tell you I quickly examined them for any life just out of curiosity. I guess I missed something.
<Something toxic there... but I don't know what. Am not a fan of boiling rock, substrates>
I know this was a long and drawn out read so I do apologize. I felt compelled to send this to you so you can publish it if you choose as a warning to all novice and experienced reefers. We survived this horrid experience.
Lesson learned the hard way.
--Mario and Stefanie
<Thank you for sharing. I do hope you have saved others from similar trouble. Bob Fenner>

Re: Boiling Liverock almost killed my household the other night.     1/12/13
Thanks Bob--
<Thank you Mario>
We both appreciate it and hope that it helps others in the future.
<Ah yes>
I posted this on Reefcentral.com as well as thereeftank.com prior to your response.
Any ideas on how I can rid my tank of these Hitch Hiker polyps? I cannot remove my rock because there are a few on each rock.
<Well, the best course of action is to take all out at once and air dry, bleach, rinse, air dry again... then re-inoculate the dead rock (after restacking) w/ a bit (a few tens of percent) of new/live. Bob Fenner>

Re Clownfish/BTA Anemone Hosting 3/7/12
Thank you so much James!
<You're welcome Jillian.>
I will look over the links in detail. In addition, I have Wilkerson's book on Clownfish.
I will remove the Zoanthids and Mushrooms as you recommend. Luckily, they are on rocks that can be easily removed from the system and haven't spread much beyond this. Most of my Zoanthids are common Yellow Colony Polyps.
<The Yellow Polyps are a Parazoanthus species and not quite as nasty as the Protopalythoa and Palythoa species which have high levels of palytoxins. 

Care must also be taken when handling these animals; use throw away examination gloves which can be bought at Home Depot in the paint department.>
 I was under the impression that they were less toxic then other Zoanthids
<You are correct but in your first email you did not state Yellow Polyps and I'm not very good at mind reading. :-)>
but I will remove if you say to. I'm glad that the Ricordeas are less of a problem. These are one of my favorites!
<Mine as well but wouldn't fair well in my high flow system and I do not believe I have a low flow area.>
I have recently sold the Ocellaris pair in an attempt to try again at finding a mated, hosting pair of clowns. I am constantly keeping my eye out for mated pairs of Clarkii's for sale. I would prefer to avoid the Maroons due to their nasty reputation but perhaps a tank-bred pair would work.
<Frenatus (Tomato Clownfish) are also nasty in my opinion.>
Do you recommend the idea of adding several to the system in hopes that 2 will pair off and host?
<That's usually the best way to get a pair.  You will know when that occurs as the pair will drive the others away from the anemone.>
Thanks for your time James! You're great!
<You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)>

Identification required 9/1/11
I have used your site extensively, but could not find the species I have received as present. Thanks for a great site.
I would like to identify the coral in the image attached.
Kindest Regards
<This appears to be a Zoanthid, likely of the genus Palythoa. DO make sure and wash your hands after they've been in contact w/ this animal/colony, or even just the system water. DO read here re:
Bob Fenner>

Re: Identification required 9/2/11
Hi Bob,
Thanks very much for the reply. Would you recommend I remove this coral altogether? After reading the posts on the website, I gathered that they can turn into a pest due to their aggressive nature/poison.
<A possibility>
I keep lots of other zoa's, buttons, cloves etc, fish, bristle stars etc and as far as I am aware they are pretty safe?
<Maybe... the fact that you have the other Zoanthids... you may be fine>
My questions really: They are not the prettiest, should I "bin" them?
<I'd at the very least slowly acclimate each to each through mixing water back and forth in separate systems for a few weeks>
<And you, BobF>

Majano Wand (for 'pest' Palys too?) -- 08/19/11
Good afternoon WWM crew,
<<Morning Steven!>>
I have a 120 gallon reef tank attached to a 20 gallon sump. Unfortunately a good portion of my viable coral space has been overrun by Palythoa.
<<Ahh'¦I can certainly relate. I have dealt/am dealing with errant Palys and to a larger degree, out of control orange Rics. Both of which were hitchhikers that I allowed to get out of control 'before' dealing with them>>
In searching WWM, it appears that the only recommended method for combating these 'pests' safely is the physical removal of the rock from the tank and subsequent manual removal of the Palys.
<<Mmm, this is likely the 'most' thorough and safe method'¦but not the only thing that can be done. Though most anything you do short of the physical removal is likely going to be a continuous uphill battle>>
Unfortunately for me, the rocks that they've grown on are 'load bearing' in my aquascape.
<<Yup, know the feeling>>
Removing them would require me to virtually tear down the entire tank.
I'm not sure I have the fortitude for that at this current juncture.
<<I understand>>
Recently, a product has come onto the market called the Majano Wand.
<<Have seen it>>
It evidently works well to kill Aiptasia and majanos.
<<So it would seem>>
Some users have even reported success killing Zoanthids and Palys.
<<Have heard this as well>>
Do you think this would be a viable solution to my problem, if I only killed a few Palys at a time?
<<If it does indeed work on the Palythoa. I have injected these with straight Lugol's solution only to have them recover in a week'¦very tough organisms. If you have the money to spend, then by all means give the wand a try. If this fails, I have found that 'repeated' injections and/or coating (every few days) with a thick Kalkwasser slurry will eventually knock them back for a while (this method works 'slightly' better on the pest Ricordea'¦another tough customer)>>
My intention would be to kill 5 or so, then immediately follow up with a water change and a fresh Polyfilter.
<<Should be fine>>
Repeat every week or so until the colony is back in check.
<<Worth trying'¦ Like you say, the alternative is to tear down your reef>>
Thanks for your time and all you do for the aquatic community,
<<A collaborative effort'¦happy to share, mate. Eric Russell>>

Re: Sick zoos -- 06/17/11
Hey Bob,
Thanks for getting back to me. See my answers below...
<Mmm, what is immediately above this Zoanthid colony?
***Ricordea mushrooms and another colony of zoos... the other zoos where added two weeks ago, but are easily 3 inches away. The Ric's are about 4inches away
<<Uhh... I see what is almost assuredly the issue in your system pic you sent along... have cropped the area... to the upper right there appears to be a healthy Euphylliid of some species. It is almost doubtless sending out mesenterial filaments, stinging the Zoanthid>
It appears that there
is some Cyanobacterial growth to the right...
***I am not certain that is Cyano? I have had Cyano before but it looked a lot "softer" than this stuff. This red stuff is quite hard. (I am assuming you are referring to the red stuff on the bit of white pipe behind the sick Zoos). I feed heavily, but skim aggressively and my po4 is never over 0.03 (I test weekly with a Hanna digital tester)... but obviously you would know this better than I... so maybe it is Cyano.
<Easy to scrape, take a look under a 'scope... or just feel... is it slimy?>
Are any other organisms in this system showing overt signs of stress?
***Actually just below the Zoos is a clam that is slowly recovering from a rough time. It was previously getting too much light ( at least I think that was the issue),
<I think it too was getting stung>
so I moved it to this location just below the sick Zoos...
(3 weeks ago maybe?). I also have an SPS on the other side of the tank that browned out last week (I got too close to him with Joes Juice trying to get Aiptasia I think). I have stopped using this and bought some peppermint shrimp. I should note that I only used Joes Juice in that one spot on the other side of the tank.
What other stinging-celled life is around this area?
***I have torch coral that is probably within 4 inches.
<<Ahh! This is IT>
It actually has grown into another colony of Zoos, and they seem to not bother each other too much. Is it possible a torch would touch one group of Zoos and have little effect, and then sting another group of zoos that is inches away and do so much damage?
<Yes, assuredly>
I never actually considered this... I have attached a tank shot so you can get an idea of the spacing.
What sort of (solid) supplementation do you do?
***The only regular form of supplementation I use is a calcium reactor. In the last month my co2 controller stopped working for a few days and I had to use reef builder to get the ALK back up, but that was it. It was added to the sump over a few days and has since stabilized...
<S/b fine>
Is it placed directly in the tank?
*** No.
Bob Fenner>
Thanks for your time Bob.
<Welcome Jas... I know it's a pain, but I'd be moving either the torch (with at least six inches, better a foot) or Zoanthid colony apart. BobF>

Re: Sick zoos
Thanks so much Bob. I'll adjust accordingly. If I could please ask just one follow up question? To the right of the torch coral, you see all the green Zoos that have grown directly into the Torch coral? They seem totally unaffected.
<Yes and yes>
So my question is, what makes this type of Zoos so tolerant, and the sick Zoos being so affected and showing so much stress after all this time? (almost overnight).
<Mmm, don't know, but I'll speculate that there is some sort of chemical communication and accommodation that occurs... but on what basis?>
The reason I ask is that I really like how the two have grown into each other, but of course I don't want to have stuff dying...
Thanks again
<Do try our new search tool (thanks Darrel) with this string: +Zoanthid and +Euphyllia compatibility
Here: http://wetwebmedia.com/Googlesearch.htm
Read the cached views. Bob Fenner>
Re: Sick zoos -- 06/17/11
Will do. Thanks Bob
<Welcome. B>

Flame Angel; Centropyge loricula comp. rating w/ Zoanthids 5/19/11
Hey Guys!
<<Hello Chris.>>
Just a quick note to confirm what I think I understand from doing some WWM research.
A fellow aquarist in my area has a beautiful red flame angel that they need to move, and I was considering it. It looks like it would be a good fit in my 65g with 110lbs of established live rock. I would need to some rearranging of the rocks to make it happy as well as the two clowns and Kole tang, every would get along, BUT:
The Flame will likely nip at Zoanthids, correct? And as I really like my Zoas, I should probably pass?
<<Aquarists have housed this and other Centropyge angels in mixed reef aquaria for decades with mixed results, many never report any issues at all and others complain of predation on their sessile invertebrates. In particular with this species tube worms, smaller anemones and the mantles of Tridacnid and Hippopus clams are often nipped at despite their primary diet consisting of benthic algaes, zooplankton, and smaller tunicates and sponges. In short there are no guarantees and there would be a risk even if a small one. Having said that with the volume of water you have I wouldn't add this fish considering the potential size of your surgeon (tang), it has a similar color and behavior...despite their small stature Centropyges are some of the most 'by sight' patrolling territorial fish there are.>>
Many thanks, as always,
<<Good luck.>>
<<Adam Jackson.>>

Shrimp-Eating Zoa? Oh yeah -- 05/07/11
Hi all, as with most people I have been reading through your site for information for a while now - thank you, it has been very useful.
As you can see in the attached image, I seem to have an incident of one of my Zoas having a (not so) light snack on one of my cleaner shrimp. As far as I can tell, this is not a skin/shedding but the shrimp itself.
<Looks to be the whole thing>
Is this normal behaviour?
This small 'Coral Garden' from my LFS is right next to the 'hideouts' of both my cleaner shrimps and my blood/fire shrimp - should I perhaps move the corals (which appear to be thriving), or is this unlikely to become the norm?
<If capture-able, Zoanthids will consume most all crustaceans>
Thanks in advance,
Hampshire, UK
<Welcome Paul. Bob Fenner>

Is there a Zoa/Coral Expert in the House?/Zoanthid Hlth., Compatibility 3/17/2011
<Hello Victor>
I suspect there is someone with extensive experience and knowledge of Zoanthid diseases and pests who can help me... and I need help! I have what appears to be some sort of fungal or bacterial ailment affecting several species of Zoanthids in my tank. I've done everything I can to iron out the well-known, well-documented diseases and pests. So far I have zero signs of spiders, Zoa pox (large distinct raised white spots), Nudibranchs after months of looking for them.
The behavior I have seen has spread between colonies, usually adjacent (but not always). Some Zoas across the tank or even on the same rock are open and happy, while others are miserable and haven't opened in weeks or have shrunk to be almost invisible. It is almost always the same set of symptoms.
These are:
- Bulging center disc/mouth
- Discoloration/matte/yellowish coloration
- Shrinking in size over time (some of mine have shrunk from normal size to just a few millimeters wide and are very pale/colorless, but have survived in that state for many months)
- Staying closed most of the time, rarely opening
- Recently I have also seen a couple of odd things, such as some filamentous-looking material (fuzz-like, but not cotton-like) on some ailing polyps
- Odd, long red strands, do not appear to be algae, coming off of/growing around Zoas, and even coming out of the mouth a couple times - Infrequently on affected Zoas (noticeable when closed) what almost looks like the Zoa's skin sloughing off in a few places, flapping in the current
My tank has been up and running for about a year and a half. I take the stewardship of the tank very seriously and all my water chemistry is stable and within range, with 15% PWC weekly. These are not being stung by anything that I know of. I've ruled out every commonly identified ailment and am at a loss here.
If it is something that can be fought back with dips, what would you suggest? These Zoas are all attached firmly to and grown all over a medium sized rock so I would have to remove the entire piece from the tank and (ensuring that there are no snails or other critters hiding inside) dip the whole thing at once in matched pH/temp freshwater, possibly with iodine.
Would this help? Would it kill off enough animals in the rockwork to spike ammonia or otherwise cause issue in the tank? If I do dip the whole rock, is iodine a bad idea (since it will likely get stuck in the rock and brought into the tank? If it looks like a bacterial issue, shall I try dipping with Furazolidone?
I know that's a lot of information and I probably sound like an aquarium hypochondriac, but this is extremely frustrating and I don't want the animals to suffer. Attached are a few photos that sort of illustrate what I'm seeing.
<Victor, please provide us a list of other corals you have in this system.
I have a strong feeling that allelopathy may be playing a role here. James (Salty Dog)>

Re Is there a Zoa/Coral Expert in the House?/Zoanthid Compatibility 3/17/2011 - 3/18/2011
Hi James, thanks for the reply.
<You're welcome.>
The other corals in the tank include...
Zoanthus sp (Various)
Cyphastrea japonica
Cyphastrea occelina
Seriatopora guttatus
Seriatopora hystrix
Pocillopora sp (green)
Pocillopora sp (pink)
Acropora sp (green, wild)
Acropora millepora "Palmer's"
Acropora sp "Lokani 20k"
Acropora sp (blue Staghorn)
Acropora sp (red planet)
Montipora capricornis (red)
Montipora capricornis (green, purple edges)
Montipora palawanensis (apple berry)
Montipora danae (Sunset)
Montipora danae (Superman)
Favia sp (Christmas)
Dendrophyllia sp
Clavularia sp (Papaya)
Clavularia sp (tiny purplish cloves)
Clavularia viridis
Sarcophyton ehrenbergi (neon green toadstool)
Duncanopsammia axifuga
Acanthastrea sp (two types)
Lobophyllia sp
Ricordea florida
Actinodiscus sp "superman"
Euphyllia divisa
<Likely your worst customer here. Euphyllias can form long and very powerful sweeper tentacles and very few corals survive an attack by members of this genus.>
Blastomussa merleti
(Boy that's a lot now that I had to list them out)
<Is quite a few.>
Honestly I would rule out allelopathic causes. The reasoning is that I'm using a small amount of carbon,
<Carbon is not a complete cure all for allelopathy. I know of a couple of instances where aquarists who use Chemipure on a regular basis and have introduced Mushroom Anemones into their system which eventually wiped out their entire Zoanthid colonies and Torch Corals within a matter of weeks.
Coral compatibility is just as important as compatibility among fish.>
and the Sarcophyton is only the size of a quarter. Furthermore it has been in the tank for over a year and this is a more recent development. The Actinodiscus specimen is new, the size of a dime, and all of these issues predate the introduction of it into the tank.
<Like most Corallimorphs, the Actinodiscus have developed effective chemical defense systems and can cause significant passive destruction to nearby corals. Most corals will not be able to settle in/live near these corals regardless of their size.>
A bit more information that may or may not help. I've experienced a recent Bryozoan bloom in the nooks and crannies of my rock work; small root-like organisms that seem to be flourishing. But more significant than that is an apparent mat of fungus, bacteria, chrysophytes, or a saprophytic alga.
It's a thin translucent colorless fuzzy film over much of the rockwork that does not look anything like green hair algae, red slime, etc, and is also found on and around the affected polyps (but not on any of my other corals). I am very confused!
<I suggest reading here and related files found in the headers.
I'd also like to suggest getting yourself a copy of Aquarium Corals by Eric Borneman, likely one of the best references on coral care, health, and disease that I have come across.>
I forgot one coral, an Acropora yongei (green slimer).
In the pictures from my first email you can see the aforementioned film/fuzz in a few places, but I didn't photograph it specifically. I'll see if I can get some shots tonight.
<Won't be necessary. Since you mention nothing of your tank size, lighting, filtration methods, etc,
I will assume you are using an efficient protein skimmer which can help reduce allelopathic compounds
along with using more than "a small amount" of carbon and/or chemical media such as Chemipure.
I also suggest dosing iodine/dide. I feel much of your problem is a combination of stress related necrosis and allelopathy. Do concentrate on improving water quality, good test results are not necessarily indicative of good water quality. I will ask Bob for his input here as well. James (Salty Dog)><<Nada mas>>

Holothuria edulis Behavior, incomp. w/ Zoanthids 11/5/10
Hello WWM crew!
<Hello James, nice name by the way.>
I've noticed some interesting behavior from my sea cucumber I thought I would pass along.
Last night I noticed in his pile of "pooped out"(lack of better term) sand he had ingested a small colony of Zoanthids and given them back to me intact. Today, neither of the involved parties looks affected, but this is a behavior I had never heard of so I figured I would pass this along! Keep an eye on what's laying in the sand with those guys around!
<And thank you for sharing with us. Will post.
James (Salty Dog)>

Emerald crab eating soft coral picture 9/17/10
Hi guys,
I do not have any questions for you today (its a wonder!) but I did snap a picture of an emerald crab hitchhiker eating one of my Zoas.
<That little bugaboo! Caught in the act!>
I had this hitchhiker in my tank for a longer time than my mantis shrimp but figured he would be food for the mantis (when it was added) so I never really bothered to fish him out. After adding the mantis, I didn't see much of him so I figured the crab was breakfast already. Today, to my surprise, he was out in the open munching on my newly added Zoa frag that I had just added about 10 minutes ago.
Guess he liked the colors so much on that one he finally went out of hiding to eat it. I never had any evidence of him eating softies before.
<Mmm, Zoanthids aren't Alcyonaceans (Soft Corals)>
I guess now I know the reason why my LR coralline algae was "bleaching." I always thought it was my lights. He's in my FOWLR tank now with my other emerald. Guess he could help my other aquarium stay clean without eating my softies.
<Have oft mentioned that Mithraculus species are largely misunderstood...
are not "cleaner uppers", but eater uppers like most decapods>
Anyways, I figured you guys might like the picture and may want to use it for future reference when people ask about emeralds eating softies and other reef
compatibility issues.
Happy reefing!
Peter T
<And you, Bob Fenner>

Re: Emerald crab eating soft coral picture 9/17/10
Mr. Fenner,
<Just Bob please Pete>
Thanks for correcting me on Zoas not being "soft" corals. I see them marketed under soft corals so many times I fall into the habit of terming them softies =D
<Ahh, no big deal... Cheers, BobF>

Palytoxin 04/19/10
Hello WetWeb Crew,
Is it possible for you to tell from my attached picture of Zoanthid, whether or not this species contains Palytoxin?
<It's most likely a Zoanthus sp, claimed to be non toxic in most of the hobby references. However, I have to note that Palytoxin (ptx) has been found in most Zoanthids in doses theoretically sufficient for an intoxication. Palythoa and Protopalythoa are the ones said to be toxic in the hobby area, but Zoanthus and Parazoanthus are also toxic. I'd like to add that given proper care they should not be very dangerous to the aquarist (see below) anyway.>
I'm rather fond of hand feeding my fish and do own gloves but seldom wear, though I know the recommendation is always to wear. As I currently have no other Zoanthids I would sooner part with this specimen than be forced to wear gloves at every feeding. Can you enlighten me?
<Do not grab into the aquarium with wounds at your hand. Be very careful when fragging Zoanthids of any kind (surgical mask, gloves, goggles). Don't stress these corals too much. Most people don't need these kind of safety regulations and do what ever they want with their Zoanthids without being harmed, however, the reported cases of intoxication were always linked to a lack of gear or severe disturbances of the Zoanthid colonies.>
From my searches I've found info saying that the ones with Palytoxin are not that commonly available, and a picture I looked at of a toxic variety did not look like this one.
<As noted above there are no genera, which can be said to be toxin free. Cheers, Marco.
PS: A little reading for the interested: "Implication of Palytoxin in the coral reef ecosystem" by Mebs at al. found in the journal Toxicon, Volume 33, Number 3, 1995 and "Distribution and sequestration of Palytoxin in coral reef animals" by Gleibs & Mebs in Toxicon, Volume 37, Number 11, 1999. To name just two studies out of quite a number. One may have to read them in a library if they are not available on the net.>

Loose Polyps, Re: mushroom behavior question, & Zoanthid incomp. -- 03/12/10
Hi Crew!
<<Hiya April!>>
Still loving reading all the info that is on your site!
<<Excellent! Can keep one occupied a while for sure>>
I read and learn every day!
<<Hey'¦me too!>>
The new mushroom is now almost the size of a dime and another is forming.
<<Amazing creatures, eh? Unfortunately this propensity to propagate so easily can often lead to infestations'¦unless this is the desired outcome.>>
I have a new question tonight.
I closely look into my tank several times a day
<<Ah yes'¦why have it otherwise, eh>>
and this morning nothing was amiss. Tonight however there is a polyp of each yellow polyp and Zoanthid laying on the aragonite at the bottom of the tank.
These are both placed on top of my live rock so I am not sure how they would have gotten loose like they are and why both on the same day.
<<Maybe merely coincidental>>
They are not side by side. They are probably about six inches or more apart. Both colonies seem very happy. They are growing and spreading nicely.
<<Maybe a clue'¦perhaps the loose polyps are a result of the colonies trying to expand/grow on to adjacent surfaces>>
Here is background so that maybe you can determine if something in my tank caused this to happen.... 29 gallon with about 25lbs of live rock and 40 lbs of aragonite. Inhabitants are one ocellaris clown and one fire fish. I have a coral banded shrimp, four hermits (red & blue legged) and two snails.
<<The shrimp/crabs may also be players here>>
There is also a spaghetti worm that I have recently discovered.
The levels are 1.024 salinity, KH 240, pH 8.0, nitrite 0, and nitrate 0-5. I can't think of anything that would have severed these polyps and don't want that to continue.
<<May have been the shrimp/crabs'¦as eluded to above>>
The polyps on the floor are open and healthy looking.
<<Yes'¦amazingly resilient organisms>>
I could scoop them up and put them in a container with limited water movement with some rubble to have them reattach and begin new colonies.
<<Indeed'¦and a very common practice>>
What do you suggest?
<<Just as you just stated'¦and I see no need to be concerned at present>>
Thank you for all of your advice!! What you do is really appreciated!!
<<Quite welcome'¦is our pleasure>>
<<Keep reading/learning/enjoying April! Cheers'¦ Eric Russell>>

Re: Loose Polyps -- 03/12/10
Thanks for answering so quickly Eric!
<<Quite welcome April>>
One more thing.
Are they compatible species?
<<The yellow polyps and Zoanthids? Nope'¦ At least not in the sense that they can touch or even be in 'very close' proximity to one another. You can/will find folks who will state to the contrary'¦but I assure you they will benefit and do better if given at least a few inches separation >>
Or more clearly ... is it okay for them to attach on the same rock (if they do)?
<<Only if you wish to lock them in mortal combat'¦ It's rarely wise to mix species from the same genus in this manner, much less species from 'differing' genera. If you do some perusing on line you can surely find etailers who offer such mixing of species/genera on the same rock/attachment point'¦but in my opinion, with very few exceptions this is folly in the long term. As with most all the organisms associated with reefs, these are very noxious critters who are more than ready and willing to do battle for every inch of available real estate>>
I learned a hard lesson with the striped mushroom and a pulsing xenia. They attached to the same rock and being new to the hobby I didn't realize what was happening to my xenia before it was too late.
Thanks again!!
<<Always welcome my friend'¦ EricR>>
R2: Loose Polyps -- 03/13/10
As always great advice!
<<Am pleased you think so>>
I will put in two separate containers with rubble in for them to attach separately.
<<Ah, excellent!>>
Thanks again!!!
<<Always a pleasure to assist'¦ EricR>>

Re: Heteroxenia sp. & Caulastrea sp., allelo f' 3/11/10
Thanks, I've read some of the links you mentioned. I have moved the Zoas to the bottom of the tank away from other corals, put in some carbon to remove any potential toxins.
It almost looks like the Xenia's stalk has been stung or damaged.
<Very possible>
I'm also moving the Xenia away from the Zoas. Any need to "dip" the Xenia in something to help the tissue heal... Melafix?
<Never... read on WWM re... worse than worthless... Perhaps additional iodide/ate... BobF>

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