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FAQs about Zoanthid Selection

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

Related FAQs: Cnidarian Selection, Zoanthids, Zoanthids 2Zoanthids 3Zoanthid ID, Zoanthid Behavior, Zoanthid Compatibility, Zoanthid System, Zoanthid Lighting, Zoanthid Feeding, Zoanthid Health, Zoanthid Reproduction

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>

Beginner's Corals (Maybe not what you think) -- 12/08/10
Dear Crew,
<<Hey Sam>>
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 hardiness,
<<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 bottom?
<<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 worries here>>
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 before long>>
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 add Corallimorphs>>
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 re>>
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,
Sam Sutonovski
<<Is a pleasure to share'¦ Eric Russell>>

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 aerosols.
<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 references.
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 conjunctivitis.
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 quite dangerous.
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 coughing.
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 surgery.
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
Monroe, WA
<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 an animal
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.
Jeff Jacobsen
<I only know of anecdotal accounts... but am willing to post your request for others input... Would you like to use/have this email address posted?
Bob Fenner>
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 Fenner>

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 Fenner>

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 Fenner>

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