FAQs about Zoanthid
Related Articles: Zoanthids, Sea Mat: An
Ocean Of Color For The Aquarium by Blane Perun,
Related FAQs: Cnidarian Selection,
Zoanthids, Zoanthids 2, Zoanthids 3, Zoanthid ID, Zoanthid Behavior, Zoanthid Compatibility, Zoanthid System, Zoanthid Lighting, Zoanthid Feeding, Zoanthid Health, Zoanthid
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.
<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:
Re: Identification required
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
I keep lots of other zoa's, buttons, cloves etc, fish,
bristle stars etc and as far as I am aware they are pretty
<Maybe... the fact that you have the other Zoanthids... you
may be fine>
My questions really: They are not the prettiest, should I
<I'd at the very least slowly acclimate each to each
through mixing water back and forth in separate systems for a few
<And you, BobF>
Beginner's Corals (Maybe not what you
think) -- 12/08/10
I am having a very hard time choosing a good beginner's coral
suitable for a 28 gallon Nano.
<<Mmm yes, can/should require some thought beforehand -- as do
any fish selections>>
I was initially looking at Zoanthids because of their aesthetics and
<<Don't know that I would label them as 'hardy'
myself. They are pushed on beginning aquarists as such, I know (same
with Corallimorphs) -- but are better suited to at least moderately
skilled/experienced hobbyists with a well establishes and stable
system, in my opinion. I've seen many the new (and even not so new)
hobbyist struggle to keep these organisms, especially as they try to
amass aggregations of the differing varieties. And should they do well,
there's often issues with excessive growth/overtaking of other
corals -- especially with some of the Palythoa species>>
however after reading that (apparently) the palytoxin they contain
leeches into the water under stress,
<<Allelopathy is indeed a prime consideration here>>
I'm not sure whether this would be a wise choice. It might be good
to note that this Nano has 150 watt metal halide lighting in addition
to some 462nm blue LEDs.
<<Metal halide is my fave lighting solution'¦can be
configured to accommodate most any marine/reef system>>
Because it is a cube it is deeper than most 28 gallon tanks, however
would this wattage be too intense for them, even towards the
<<This depends on several factors such as the depth at which the
organisms were collected (difficult to impossible to ascertain), and
whether or not you can adjust the 'height' of the light
fixture. But for most of the systems I've seen that were
'dedicated' to this type of reef organism, less
'intense' lighting seemed to work very well>>
Or would I risk having them develop white spots and die off?
<<Even with the MH -- lighting is likely to be the least of
The other I was really interested in are the Corallimorphs.
<<A yes, the other so called 'beginner's' reef
organism. The problem I have with these is not that they are difficult
to maintain (though Ricordea spp. are sometimes the exception), but
quite the reverse. These organisms are often very prolific -- and being
very noxious and aggressive, often prove quite deleterious to the other
sessile organisms in the system. A new hobbyist, acquiring these on the
advice of their LFS, often finds their system overwhelmed with such
I read that they too are hardy but that they are highly aggressive in
terms of Allopathy.
Being that it is a 28 gallon would I be able to accommodate safely one
of these mushrooms in addition to another hardy coral?
<<The problem is'¦it won't remain as 'one
mushroom.' If you want to dedicate this tank to this particular
genus then go for it -- if you want a variety of organisms, I would not
I can dose calcium, strontium, iodine etc. levels appropriately
<<Considering the size of the system, you can likely forego
dosing and keep everything up'¦and in
'balance''¦with simple water changes. Should you
decide to stock heavily with something that will deplete bio-mineral
content, do test before adding anything>>
and adjust the flow so the main issues for me are whether these would
be compatible in a cubic 28 gallon tank with 150 watt MH lighting, and
of course which would be easier to deal with in the long run.
<<Both are trouble down the road in my opinion. Many hobbyists do
keep them, and ultimately it's up to you to decide if you want to
take on the challenge, but with your system I would recommend something
like corals from the genus Montipora. There are branching species that
once grown out to some size, would make for a stunning display in a
system such as yours. Add to this a grouping (5-7) of small/smallish
Cardinalfishes (Apogon leptacanthus, for example) to hover among the
branches and the result could be quite spectacular. But honestly, there
are many ways you can go here'¦ If you decide to pass on the
Zoanthids and Corallimorpharians, keep searching for/researching what
you think you might like and then feel free to come back for discussion
Sorry for any questions that have been answered in the archives,
however I can honestly say I read through the entirety of several
articles before asking.
<<No worries mate'¦but do keep reading>>
Thanks for all that you do,
<<Is a pleasure to share'¦ Eric
Palytoxin-like compounds and Marine
Aerosols... Zoanthid sel., human hlth. f's
I am writing you today, as I came across the question below on your
website. My family has experienced a similar situation, and I would
like to share it with you, along with a recent article I found dated
March 13, 2009 that directly ties Palytoxin-like compounds to marine
<Thank you for this>
"Human Lung Disease? 11/26/07
Dear Dr. Fenner,
<Just Bob please... I have no doctorate>
Friday I spent several hours cleaning my sump, pumps, heaters etc. Most
of this time was spent hunched over the garage sink with a lot of water
vapor rising up into my face. That evening, my lungs felt inflamed. The
next day (yesterday) a cough developed and then a high fever followed
with all of the usual aches and pains associated. The reason I am
writing is because there seems to be a very clear correlation between
the cleaning of the sump and the rapid onset of this illness. I read
the article posted on your site regarding aquariums and human health,
and most of it seemed related to skin infections. Do you know of
diseases of the lungs caused by the inhalation of bacteria commonly
found in substrate? If so, I would greatly appreciate any
Best wishes to you all,
Brad in Basalt
<I do not... but do encourage you to seek out medical attention if
you are concerned... I wish you good health. Bob Fenner>"
Cellular Physiology and Biochemistry
Production of Functionally Active Palytoxin-like Compounds by
Mediterranean Ostreopsis cf. siamensis
Palytoxin is one of the largest and highly potent marine toxins first
isolated from Zoanthids of the genus Palythoa. It has been also found
in sea anemones, Polychaete worms, crabs and herbivorous fishes.
However, algae from the genus Ostreopsis have been proposed as the
possible biogenetic origin of this toxin as well as some potent
analogues, e.g. ostreocin-D.
Palytoxin-like compounds also cause human sufferings because of
exposure to the marine aerosols, with symptoms that include fever
associated to serious respiratory disturbs, such as
bronchoconstriction, mild dyspnea, wheezes, and in some cases
Here is our story:
Palytoxin Poisoning from Palythoa Polyps
Dave and I want to share a bizarre experience we have encountered,
should you know of anyone who owns a salt water fishtank, and finds
themselves getting sick from the water.
Dave recently purchased a 75 gal aquarium and then found a guy on
Craigslist who was selling everything in his tank, as his doctor told
him he was allergic to his fishtank. Every time the guy stuck his hand
in the water he would get sick.
This sounded "odd", but we went ahead and purchased about 90
pounds of live rock, various sea anemones, etc. We really didn't
know what the entire package included, but believed it was safe enough
to transfer to our tank without gloves.
That night Dave , Kent and I all became dreadfully ill for 4 days. Dave
had a fever for 3 days that peaked at 103.5. All of us had muscle
aches, stomach cramps, difficulty breathing, coughing, diarrhea, nausea
and headaches. Only Dave had the fever.
We recovered, only finding our family repeating this cycle every time
Dave stuck his hand or arm in the tank, (to clean or move things
around). After Dave's 5th fever of 101.7 he went to the doctor and
they ruled out Swine Flu, but we had him tested for Salmonella
Paratyphis B and Vibrio, both rare aquarium diseases that can both be
We contacted the owners of Saltwater City in Bellevue , one of which is
a Marine Biologist, and the other, "Andy" a microbiologist
and research scientist. He believed we must have poisonous Palythoa
Polyps growing in our tank. (They look like purple flowers.) This
turned out to be exactly the problem. We called the previous owner and
asked him what his "allergy symptoms" were, and they were
identical to ours. Our family would get these symptoms just by
BREATHING the fumes from the tank. We have since removed these deadly
polyps, and are in the process of de-toxifying our aquarium.
Andy, from Salt Water City had a case of this only one other time.
Every time the guy stuck his bare arm in the tank, he would get sick
with a fever. He removed his Palys and recovered. Also, we did find out
that the previous owner who sold us this live rock package had the
exact same symptoms as us! Every time he stuck his hands in the water,
he would get sick with a fever.
He has since recovered.
Trev Dakan, the owner and Marine Biologist of Salt Water City claimed
that a couple times in his life, when we was cleaning out a "bad
tank" he would get very ill with a fever. He just thought he
caught the flu.
We have recently removed 4 LARGE clusters of Palythoa Polyps, and we
also are removing all the sand in our tank, slowly, in sections to go
bare bottom. The sand is in a bucket in our garage. If you were to
stick your head in the bucket and breath in, you WILL find yourself
We have been to the Dr. My husband became the most sick, as his immune
system has been compromised prior to all of this due to a sinus
Anyway, they did a chest X-ray, tested for every kind of bacterial
infection, and read the above article linking Palytoxin-like compounds
to marine aerosols. They believe this is the cause of our problem.
(They did find Dave's white blood cells to be high. The
microbiologist said this is common with Palytoxin exposure)
We are currently cycling "Chemipure" thru out tank for two
months to try to purify the tank. We understand we may have to
"gut" the whole thing and sterilize it, but the experts we
have talked to think we can save everything by trying this method.
Currently we have not had any reactions around the tank, but we do use
gloves up to our armpits before entering the tank.
If you have any thoughts you would like to share, we are more than
happy to listen.
Thank you for your time!
Amy and David Fulton
<Again, thank you for sharing... You may well have saved several
others from very dire Zoanthid health issues. Bob Fenner>
Possible palytoxin eye injury... Have you or
someone you know had eye issues related to handling Cnidarians? Jeff is
looking for your input 6/13/09
I am working up a case of corneal damage that occurred during removal
of a colony of Acanthastrea lordhoweensis from a portion of rock also
covered with a Palyzoa species. Some of the features of the injury, the
inflammatory response, and the course of wound healing are concerning
for toxic injury. There is very little information in the medical
literature on this topic other than a single very brief case report and
study from 1974, prior to the characterization of palytoxin. I would be
interested if this has been encountered previously in hobbyists and
also if there is an expert in Palythoa and coral toxins in general that
might be worth contacting.
<I only know of anecdotal accounts... but am willing to post your
request for others input... Would you like to use/have this email
Thanks for the response. This email address is fine.
Jeff Jacobsen <Jeffrey.Jacobsen@hsc.utah.edu>
Will post then. BobF.
Zoanthids, palytoxin, human contact
4/9/08 Mr. Fenner, I have a disease called scleroderma
that effects my autoimmune process and need to be cautious. I have read
about the neurotoxin called palytoxin that occurs with Zoanthid polyps.
I read about the need for caution and it's effects but on the other
hand I get the impression its occurrence in the aquarium hobby seems
rare. With this in mind I have what I believe is a Zoanthid Palythoa
that looks like the common type with green polyps. I'm new to the
hobby and need to know if I have a serious concern. I intend to use
gloves if the need comes to physical touch it, but do I need to be
concerned about making contact with the aquarium water with my hands.
Your input will be appreciated. Steve C. <Mmm, always best to be
cautious when dealing with Zoanthids... particularly in handling
directly, as in asexual propagation/cutting. I do advise that you,
actually most everyone wear good gloves whenever they place their hands
in their tanks... to prevent possible troubles for themselves during
exposure, as well as to disallow contamination. Cheers, Bob
Comm. Zoanthid search 1/5/08 Hi This is
"Hassan" from Tropical Reefs, am looking for a supplier of
colourful Zoanthids, hope you can advise, thanks & a happy new
year, Best Regards Hassan Tropical Reefs London UK, <Likely the
UK's TMC, Underworld... are your best bets... That and encouraging
aquarists to become your aquaculture "satellites"... In the
U.S., I'd look to the "usual suspects" in and about
LAX's 104th street... Walt Smith/Pacific Aqua Farms, Sea Dwelling
Creatures, Quality Marine, Underwater World... all have websites... Bob
Looking for whlse supply of Zo's and Ricordea ...
to ship to S. Africa 1/20/06 Good day all <Micae> I
need assistance with the following if possible. After many years of
keeping and breeding marine fish and propagating corals I have now
decided to take the big step and start an online business. <Not for
the easily challenged> I do not intend to sell everything I lay my
hands on. I am looking for rare and exotic species and other livestock
not readily available in South Africa. My question is if you could
perhaps assist us with the name of a reliable supplier of Florida
Ricordeas and Zoanthids. <Mmm, you might try ORA/C-Quest... and
later (they're re-building) ProAquatix> We do have regular
flights to South Africa so this should not be a problem. FedEx also
delivers. We have been in contact with Kiki Haman from Ricordeas.net
but feel that $12 per polyp excluding shipping for 100 polyps is a
retail price and not wholesale. We know that shipping to South Africa
from the US is expensive, this is why 90% of dealers import from
Indonesia, but at this stage shipping cost is a small price to pay in
order for us to bring these wonderful that are not available here to
our clients. creatures into the country. Your assistance would be
appreciated Micae <Mmm, when you have a URL to post, please re-send
this note... and I will refer it and post it on WWM. Bob Fenner>
Zoanthids Hi Bob, I have a 55 gallon tank that I want to make
into a pseudo-reef (pseudo because I have only 1 96-watt PC for
lighting). <There are reefs in the world with far less
illumination> I have about 70 lbs. of live rock, a Purple tang,
diamond goby, pacific cleaner shrimp, a large Featherduster and a
colony of orange Zoanthids. All inhabitants are doing well. I plan on
getting some mushrooms in the near future. My question is, what other
types of sessile inverts can I add with this amount of light?
<Many, many... there are hundreds of ahermatypic true/Scleractinia
corals alone... and gorgonians/sea fans... Much more than would fit a
hundred 55's.> I get conflicting reports from LFS people; some
recommend star polyps, other sources say they need lots of light. LFS
says Zoanthids need lots of light, but mine are doing fine.
<Both groups have members that will do fine in your system>
I'm afraid to buy more before I get more info, but it's hard to
find specifics on the beauties I see in the store. What do you
recommend? <Investing your time, money in some of the fine standard
written works available: Eric Borneman, Sven Fossa, Alf Nilsen, Julian
Sprung, Charles Delbeek, Ron Shimek... should all be known to you. Bob