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FAQs about Zoanthid Reproduction/Propagation

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

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

Can a single brown button polyp form a colony? 5/15/12
<Hi, Felicia here.>
First, thanks for all the information available on this site. It has really helped me out many times over the years.
<You're welcome, and thank you for reading WWM.>
One of the many creatures that have appeared in my 75 gallon FOWLR tank over the last year is, what I believe to be, a single brown button polyp. Will a single Polyp reproduce on its own?
<Yes, over time, it is possible for more polyps to bud off a single polyp. When corals reproduce sexually in the wild, a single polyp settles and then begins to clone itself asexually to form a colony.>
I would love to see a little colony form.  I have no special lighting on the tank. I have been giving the polyp a few Mysis several times a week. It does appear to be growing, or at least opening wider.  FYI, the tank contains 1 yellow tang and 3 ocellaris clowns. Thanks Again AJ

Attaching Zoanthus to a rock 12/23/09
Dear WWM:
I have read your forums regularly when I have a question and am very impressed with the amount of information there for newbies and seasoned SW aquarists alike. Your site is a mainstay for me.
<Am glad you have found our content of use>
I apologize for my very basic questions but I am pretty new to Saltwater. I have 30 plus years at freshwater so I am not totally new to keeping livestock in aquariums.
Tank Specifics: 55gal long, with about 40 pounds of live rock (obviously am going to purchase and place more as funds permit, have another 10 pounds curing as I write this). The tank is about 2.5 months old and has been basically trouble free. (My nitrates have spiked over last few days and unsure why that is).
<From, to? How much of a "spike?">
Recently added Nassarius Snails (x2)
<These are likely a factor in the increased [NO3]>
to �stir up my ~1 inch LS bed.� Also inhabiting the tank is an Ocellaris Clown (x1), McCosker's Flasher Wrasse (x2), a Royal Gramma Basslet (x1) and a Mexican Turbo Snail (x1). I have noticed more and more different types of worms showing up, to include spaghetti worms, feather dusters and what may be flatworms (?). Also I have recently notice 2 fairly nice sized red mushrooms growing (about dime sized or just under). Feedings being done 3-4 times per day placing very little of whatever I am feeding (varies) until gone, then adding a small amount more until the feeding frenzy has ended. I then attempt to remove what little is left over with a shrimp net. Of course I may not get all, but the missed amount is minimal.
Ammonia is 0, Nitrites are 0 but Nitrates have spiked from 20-40ppm.
This worries me greatly.
Filtering consists of a:
1. Red Sea Prism Skimmer
2. Jebo 304 Canister filter
<Packed with what media?>
3. AquaTech 50 HOT Filters (x2)
Lighting consists of a T5 HO dual lamp output with one bulb being a blue actinic. Necessity forces me to upgrade this in early spring.
Problem 1: What can I do to bring the Nitrates down quick w/o resorting to massive (expensive) weekly water changes?
<... Read... Start here: http://wetwebmedia.com/nitratesmar.htm
and the linked files above. There are a few approaches>
I was advised by my local shop to make a refugium from a AquaClear 70 HOT filter (gave me instructions on how to �convert� it to a Refugium).
<Mmm, of some help here, but a larger volume... sump/refugium... with a DSB of fine oolithic sand, RDP light cycle... would be better by far>
Then purchase and place macroalgae in that refugium. This will take some time to establish I believe. He also advised to get a purer water source until I can get an RO unit since tap water, even if properly prepared by sitting (with powerhead running) to remove chlorine etc. still places Nitrates in the tank.
<Also good advice>
Recommends purchasing purified water from a local source for now.
Problem 2: I recently purchased a small �frag� of Zoanthus, less the frag.
Meaning I purchased the invert and it was not attached to any frag of live rock. There are probably 50 or so polyps of course all attached as a small �ball� of sorts. I placed the Zoo originally on a rock, but it basically floated away, unable to remain there (water movement might have been a bit strong there). So I moved it to another piece of rock, where the water movement, though still present is much less vigorous. Over a period of about an hour, though I found it laying on the substrate. So I placed it back in same (second) area and laid some very small pieces of rock around it to �cradle it.� This seemed to keep the Zoo in place and is still there as I type this 6 hours later. About ½ of the polyps are now fully or partially open.
My questions: How do I �encourage� the Zoo to attach to a rock or must I actually do that for it (using reef glue etc.)?
<Best to pierce the colony (wear gloves, do the initial work outside the system in a small pan of system water, toss the water after) with a "needle and thread"... and tie this thread around the rock/work you want the Zoanthid to attach to.>
Must I place the Zoo on a small rock or may I place it on whatever rock I wish it to colonize?
<... Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/zoanthidreprfaqs.htm
and importantly, the "Health FAQs" linked above... Your health mostly>
Related: must the chosen rock be fairly smooth, i.e. no dips/valleys etc.
<Mmm, not really an issue unless you're going the "glue/adhesive route">
Thank you for considering my questions and I truly look forward to hearing from you in the near future.
Respectfully submitted:
John A. Etling
<And do please practice using the search tool linked on WWM... and familiarize yourself with our indices... Much ancillary input is logically arranged that would benefit you, your enterprise here, by design on WWM. Bob Fenner>

Zoanthids, prop...  -- 09/19/09
Bob (or whomever it may concern),
It seems as if it should be an incredibly obvious piece of information, but I can't seem to find it anywhere: how many named species of Zoanthids are there?
<About 250>
Also, several Pachyclavularia sp. have surrounded a small rock in my tank, but do not seem to spread to the base of the structure. Should I slice the base of the mat with a scalpel and superglue the frag to a plug?
<I would not... will "go there" if they want. Too much toxic effect if handled>
This is the first time I've ran into something like this; it spreads outwards as opposed to downwards. Once again, many thanks for everything y'all do for the aquatic community.
Will N.
P.S. Am greatly enjoying the BB.
<Ah good. Bob Fenner>

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>

Zoanthid prop. mostly    3/3/08 Hi Guys! <Josh> Quick questions: About a week ago I purchased a piece of live rock with some bluish purple star polyps on it, lots of small fan worms, and a mat of what looks like small Zoa's on it. There are actually two mats, one an orangish color and another yellow. I would like to propagate the mats but the star polyps are overshadowing them and blocking the light. I've read that they grow fast and its better to isolate them to single rocks with spaces in between, <Yes> and so my question is... The larger bush of polyps that is causing the issue is connected to a small stalk to the substrate. Can I cut the stalk and superglue it to an isolated rock or should i just remove that bush completely? <I'd try fragging the rock... moving Zoanthid pieces to spots where they can/will grow...> Second question... I originally had some "dead" rock in there when I was given the tank and am trying to slowly get rid of it for live rock.. The dead rock is mostly green now from algae that my snail and hermit crabs keep down. Is that really bad? <No> It makes my new live rock green too. There is no hair algae, just the green color and its really unattractive. I no longer feed flake food, just some seaweed as I feed the tang which I take out a couple of hours later and some phytoplankton mix that my LFS said to for whatever might come out of my live rock but other than the fan worms, I don't know that anything needs it... Lastly, I have a Ricordea that is wonderful and i thought i was supposed to supplement it with a little shrimp or something every once in a while, but my LFS tells me never to feed it... do I listen to him? <Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/shroomfdgfaqs.htm> Have a 20 gal with Aqua C with Maxijet protein skimmer, a penguin filter and Aqualight. (Don't worry I'm getting rid of the tang, it is just temporary till I can take him to the LFS). Thanks!, Josh <Keep saving for that larger system... Bob Fenner>

Re: Attaching Coral to Live Rock, Zoanthid Toxins and Safety - 12/10/07 Brenda, Thank you for the info!! <You're welcome!> I was thinking of starting with some Zoanthids, and go from there. I figured I would start with these they seem to be hardy enough for my skill level. As you know they will add lots of color to my tank. <Yes, you have a lot of selection here. I have worked with and propagated Zoanthids many times. Let me give you a quick run down on Zoanthid safety. As with all coral, when handling you should wear gloves. However, with Zoanthids it is a must to use eye protection, a complete face shield is best. Zoanthids are extremely toxic, and can be deadly in extreme cases to humans and their furry friends. I am aware of several cases where this coral has released toxins by squirting someone in the eye or mouth, so you will want to keep your mouth closed if not using a full face shield. Keep pets and children away while you are working with these. Disinfect your work area, and any tools used when you are finished. Some important links to read: http://www.cbwinfo.com/Biological/Toxins/Palytoxin.html http://www.asanltr.com/newsletter/02-2/articles/Neurotoxins.htm http://reefcentral.com/forums/showthread.php?s=&threadid=158663&perpage=10&pagenumber=1 http://www.wetwebmedia.com/zoanthidreprfaqs.htm If you decide to propagate these, it is best to remove a portion of the rock underneath the coral. This can be done using a chisel or even a razor blade. Then use super glue gel to attach to another rock, or frag plug.> Thanks again for the info, and keep up the good work, your services are invaluable and always appreciated. <You are welcome! Thank you! It is always good to hear we are appreciated! Good luck to you! Brenda>

Zoanthid Propagation - Matting vs. Budding  7/15/06 I'm piecing together a zoanthid garden on a large unique piece of live rock.  I hope I properly word this question...here goes.      Most of the zoanthids that I am including reproduce by what I would call "budding," which is essentially where the zoanthid base puts out a straight line (or string) of body and then creates a new zoanthid at the end of the line on a bud.    <Yes>   However, I am also including Eyes of Rah zoanthids from the Soloman Islands.  These zoanthids reproduce by complete matting, which is a carpet like expansion that literally covers all live rock in its path.      <Is more exuberant budding really...>   My question is can the budding and matting type zoanthids coexist on the same rock, or will the matting zoanthids eventually overgrow the buds?      Thanks,   Justin <Mmm... most non-identical genetic zoanthid colonies, let alone species will not co-exist. Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/zoanthidcompfaqs.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Don't kill those Zoanthids! - 4/19/2006 Hi, I'm looking for a fish (or maybe invert) that would help clean a reef tank of zoanthids, or at least keep them under control, but leave the tridacnids and SPS alone.  Do you know of any such animal? <<No.  Why on earth would you want to do that??  If your Zoas are growing really rapidly, consider fragging them and selling/giving them to other aquarists.  Captive-bred corals and the like can carry a hefty price tag, and are loved by many (myself included).>> Thanks, Tom <<Glad to help. Please do reconsider. Lisa.>>

Re: Don't kill those Zoanthids! - 4/19/2006 I'm already giving many of them back to my LFS. <There is a site called frags.org which I believe you can really benefit from.  You could sell these, or trade them for anything you like - the website is free and very well done.> I can't really frag the rest because they're growing on the large pieces of live rock, the clams, and encroaching on several of the coral colonies. <Which I had this overgrowth problem with zoas.>   If I could give them all away, I would. <So do so with the website above.> I also used to love Zo's, but not so much now...over time they've become more of a pest, not unlike Aiptasia. <Hmm... are considered rapid growing, but most would welcome this.> Other WWM faq says to pick/scrub them off, but I'd rather put them to good use in the old food chain if at all possible.   <I'm not sure there is such a thing - many are toxic.  Look into frags.org - you and other aquarists may benefit!  Thanks, Jen S.> Tom Palytoxin Paranoia - 03/02/2006 Hello all, <Hello you.> I am a big fan of your site, and have been an avid aquarist for most of my life,....now being in my mid 30's, I feel I have a good deal of experience. <Glad you've stuck with it.> A few years ago, I started reefkeeping. I have kept away from Zoanthids, due to the horror stories of their inherent toxicity. I have searched a good deal on the web, through forums of which we are all familiar with, but keep hearing that "most zoanthids/Palythoa in the hobby are not toxic varieties"....in a life threatening sense. <As far as life threatening, yes, quite uncommon.> Is this indeed true? I am concerned about this. I realize that people will have different physical reactions to different stimuli, but deadly is another set of rules. I have small children, that I enjoy sharing the wonders of my hobby with, and I would love to keep Zoanthids due their beauty, but have veered away from them at all costs because of what has been revealed about them, though to what extent of truth is now the concern. <Valid concern. Though, I believe, they are all toxic to some extent, not usually fatal. The thing to be most concerned with is open wounds and eye/mouth contact. Most risk associated with propagation> Of course I am concerned with my children's safety and my own. I have Anthony's books and have read of his mishaps,......would love to know more definitive info., if any of you could help. <It all comes down to responsibility and common sense when handling these. I don't think you should let it stop you from keeping them. Teach your children about them, I'm sure they'll find it fascinating. I think you'll be fine.> Thanks in advance.
<Hope that helps. - Josh>

Vermetid gastropod / zoanthid Dear WetWebMedia, <Tahirah> The other day, I noticed a strand of mucous play out like a fishing line from under one of the rocks in my tank. <Nice alliteration> The rock is at an odd angle, so I can't really check and see whether the creature is the famed Vermetid gastropod mentioned in the Hitchhiker FAQ ( http://www.reefs.org/hhfaq/pages/picture_pages/faq_vermetid.html). I've also noticed that every now and then a cloud of something organic spews out from where the mucous strand originates under the rock. The FAQ didn't mention anything like this! Any ideas what it is? <Waste and/or reproductive products> Furthermore while acclimating my new candy cane coral, I found a tiny zoanthid attached to one of the heads.  It's so cute! What type of zoanthid is it? Will it survive?  Should I move it from the candy cane and epoxy it to a rock? Regards, T. <Can't tell species... I'd leave it as is for now... if it reproduces asexually, gets to be a few polyps in size... maybe an effort at snapping that piece off... Bob Fenner>

Green Button Polyp propagation naturally Hello all.  I have a colony of green button polyps on a piece of live rock. They all show great extension and there are many new polyps forming all of the time.  I have had three 'knots' of polyps either detach or be pulled from the rock.  The 'knots' show no sign of being damaged in any way, in fact soon after they drop, new polyps begin forming on the piece that has detached.   <this is quite common in mature colonies. A natural mode of propagation and distribution of the species> The original colony is fairly crowded, <ahhh, yes... as per above> and once the piece detaches, the space is quickly filled by the remaining polyps.  Is this normal, a good sign / bad sign.   <indeed normal and natural. Sounds like you are doing quite well my friend. Growth> Thank you for all of your help and advice. Ed <our great pleasure. Kindly, Anthony>

Pest coral control? hello there- <cheers> I have a few corals in my tank that are spreading to rapidly and I would like to get rid of.  I have some yellow polyps that are growing like wild fire but worry me because I have a few sps corals and don't want the polyps to grow towards them and sting them.   <agreed... this is a common problem with mixing unnatural/incompatible species> After I remove the original rock of yellow polyps, how can I kill the polyps that have spread onto the live rock (aquascape)?  White vinegar in a syringe or calcium in a syringe? <is there any way I could convince you not to kill a living coral... these precious creatures that you once admired? Perhaps a local aquarist, aquarium club or pet store will buy them from you or at least take them so they can live. Coral and Polyps can be extracted from anything safely. Trust me... I wrote a book about it ("Book of Coral Propagation"- Calfo)> Thank you for your help josh <best regards, Anthony>

Propagating Zoanthids- serious concerns with Palytoxin WWM Gang- <dude> Have any of you done any experimentation, or know of any, to increase the growth rate of zoanthids (or polyps in general) by splitting the polyp in half on the vertical axis?   <yep... and poisoned myself with Palytoxin three times in 10 years for my pains. It is a potentially fatal toxin. I only lost my sense of taste (for a day) with the brief encounters> Secondly, the reason I'm asking is that I came across some zoanthids that are an amazing fuchsia color, they popped up in a friend's tank a month or so after he added the standard yellow polyps.   <much easier to grow them faster by addressing their needs in husbandry. The larger polyps (Palythoa and Protopalythoa usually) favor moderate light and heavier feedings. The tiny polyps (Zoanthus) generally favor VERY bright light and will not feed organismally well or at all. Absorption instead (ammonium chloride and nitrate solutions used carefully)> The only guess I can make is that they came in on the rock after having very recently settled upon it, maybe after a spawning or some other event.  Have any of you ever run across zoanthids even close to this color morph.   <hard to say... I haven't seen yours yet <G>. I attached a color swatch to give you an idea of the color I'm talking about.   OK... looks sexy indeed. If you want to prop them... set them up in a completely separate system. Their are many other concerns and complications with zoanthids being propped in mixed reef tanks. A precarious notion at best> And the answer is yes...I did get some frags ;-) <excellent dude! Do share in time> Darrell Daniels Sacramento, CA   <best regards, Anthony>

Re: Zoanthid Propagation Anthony- Yes I know...I read all about your Palytoxin encounters in your book (which I still read sections of from time to time even though I've read it cover to cover at least 3 times).   <Yowsa...humbling. And with great thanks!> I do have a 25 tall sitting empty that I could use just for these fuchsia zoanthids. <definitely the best way to go. The tank being tall is rather a pain though... only the top 12" or so will be useful for our purpose here. Treat that tank like a 10 or 15 gall in your mind>> What would you consider to be bright light, I can hang 110W (2x55) of power compacts or 175w of halide over it. <The pc's with a very good reflector will be fine. The MH would skirt the tank depth issue but not recommended for such a small tank. Simply too much light (penetration, waste of electricity, etc)> I took my very first batch of home grown coral into the LFS that I frequent. <awesome!> It was only nine pieces, but they had just received a large shipment from Walt Smith and didn't have much room.  They're offering me 50% of the retail price in store credit, or 30% of retail in cash.   <WOW! That is VERY generous... grow as much as they will buy... and take the cash> With your experience I'm guessing you have a fairly good idea what Walt Smith (or any wholesaler) is charging wholesale.   <most LFS need to triple livestock for price points. 30% to you is generous in that you are not a tried and true producer. You are getting full value as a grower. Kudos to that store. Find a reason to mention their name in another e-mail <G>. We need to hear of good retailers that have a long view> If I turn in a piece to the LFS and they retail price it at $30.00, what would you think they we're paying for the same piece from a wholesaler.   <its hard to say... for very hardy, rare or hard to sell pieces, the margin might even be smaller (50%). Retail is a tough biz... these are perishable items! A 3X markup is assuredly fair and necessary to keep the lights running in the store, pay for employees to sit and wait for customers like us to just show up and buy something (or not).. Oh, then there is paying the bills. Any doubts... take a peak at what the poor schleps drive to work in. I doubt that your favorite employee, the manager or even the owner roll in on chrome <G>.> I'm just trying to figure out if I'm getting a good deal or not.   <cash or credit... its very fair either way> I think the 50% is a good deal, but I would like them to come up on the cash. <the credit is good if you expect and need to buy a lot. That's not a habit I would encourage you cultivating though... heehee. Turning down cash that is :) Show me the money!> As always, thanks for your time and knowledge. Darrell     <get back to coral farming you slouch! I mean, best regards. Anthony>

An Eye For An Eye (Or, The Zoanthids Strike Back...) Hello WWM Readers...Scott F. here.. Just thought that I might pass on an experience that I had this weekend which we all might benefit from... I was "pruning" some zoanthids off of a rock that I had removed from  my reef system , and got a bit careless with a razor blade, ended up cutting into one of the polyps, and some of the fluid from the zoo spurted out directly into my left eye...(I can hear Anthony sighing right now...). Naturally, my first reaction (after I stopped cursing) was to rinse out my eye (which was burning a bit) with fresh water... All seemed well for the remainder of the day, except for a little redness and itchiness...Well, Sunday came around and I had a full-on infection in my eye, courtesy, no doubt, of the bacteria-laden fluid from the unhappy zoanthid!  The infection is beginning to subside, but it was not the most enjoyable experience I've had lately! My plea to all is to be VERY careful when cutting into coral tissue, particularly soft corals and zoanthids, which may spurt fluids out under pressure if you make a careless incision. Anthony has humorously documented the very real danger of palytoxin from zoanthids in his "Book of Coral Propagation", and it deserves careful reading by all who attempt to impose propagation on corals. Fortunately (I guess), the toxin did not appear to cause any problems for me (bacteria no doubt did), but I was definitely lucky! I would highly recommend the use of plastic goggles (like the kind you use when working with power tools) to avoid "incidents" like the one that happened to me!  A really good idea! I think I'll stick to regular 5% water changes, play with my fishies,  and leave the coral propagating to hardcore reef nerds! Maybe that's why everyone is so into SPS corals...? May all your skimmate be dark and stinky, and may all your incisions be accurate! Scott F.

Looking for Colonial Anemone Info. Mr Fenner: I read an article on zoanthids on your site. I was wondering if you may know of any good articles or books where I can find some additional information. My interest is in identification, and documentation of captive rearing. <The piece itself: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/zoanthid.htm has a bibliography at the end. I would look for these and other hobbyist articles, and book references further "up on the scale" of cnidarians, invertebrates posted on WetWebMedia.com and at the book reviews posted there on marine topics, and though you are fully familiar, in a computer search of pertinent literature, as detailed here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/litsrchart.htm Bob Fenner> Thanks Blane

Propagating Zoanthids Hi Bob and all you other guys! Can one of you please tell me how to propagate Zoanthus sociatus ? Or any of the Zoanthus species for that matter.  <should be done with great caution! I highly recommend that this be done in a dedicated prop tank and only after much experience with other corals in propagation. The activity is actually quite easy by separating individual polyps with a scalpel or sharp chisel. The problem is that zoanthids contain Palytoxin and it is frighteningly dangerous to humans in some species. Eric Borneman and I have each written on the subject in our respective books. I have been poisoned three times in ten years of coral farming with this species. Please research more on the safety and care of these corals in propagation first> I have a rather large colony and I would love to see them around the tank rather than just one huge clump! Thanks! Pam <kind regards, Anthony Calfo>

Prop tank and refugium 4/28/04 hey, I currently have a 55 gallon tank (all zoanthids), with a 10 gallon fuge under the stand. I have 2 96 watt pc's as my lighting with a possum wrasse, hi fin goby, and clownfish. I am eventually going to get rid of the 10 gallon tank, and put a standard 20 gallon long under there instead. I have a few questions on this 20 long.  I want to be able to propagate some of my zoanthids, and also have a refugium in the same tank. From the 10 gallon tank I have  a CSL PowerCompact with moonlight built in. <novel... but not very useful/effective for anything beyond the aesthetic (and for sighted animals... not corals)> Although it houses 2 40 watt bulbs, and since CSL doesn't make anything anymore I was going to try and add 2 36 watt bulbs instead. Is this lighting sufficient? <depends on species... Zoanthus will tend to need much (!) brighter lighting... but the larger polyped Palythoa (deeper water) may be just fine> my zoanthids grow SO slow under the pc lighting, so I don't know what to do. <slow growth is much more likely from lack of feeding (or right kinds of foods... dissolved organics, source of nitrates/nitrogen)> secondly, in the prop tank, do I have to separate the powerhead in its own little "compartment" in the 20 long? <to protect plankton? No worries if so. No> finally, the lighting is only big enough for a 10 gallon tank, but would it suffice for the zo's AND the fuge? <again... depends on the species kept... I cannot say for such a wide range of possibilities> thanks so much in advance. Mike
<kindly, Anthony>

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