zoanthid palythoa

Zoanthids are a great beginners coral. They are easy to propagate.

These corals grow very well in new aquariums and they come in a wide range of colors. There are many varieties of Zoanthids. During our research at GARF we have brought many Zoanthids from the wild reef and each group has taken several months to acclimate to captivity.

During the first few months the wild colony does not grow very fast. After a period of about six months we notice that the individual Zoanthids start to reproduce and the colony starts to spread.



One of the very best ways to get zoanthid brood stock is to purchase them on the Internet. By collecting good brood stock early, you can grow out your own colonies so that when you're ready to reproduce them you will have lots of different ones to put on the rocks. These combination rocks are very good sellers. They are popular at pet shops and on the web, and it gives people a lot of different colored Zoanthids.


Many of the brightly colored Zoanthids that we have in our genetic bank at GARF came from the aquaculture facility in Koror, Palau. These beautiful Zoanthids were grown on cement disks in the ocean.


These Zoanthids were placed in a 120-gallon reef aquarium that has many actively growing colonies of Zoanthids already established in it. The newly imported Zoanthids did not grow at all for the first six months. Now that this colony has started to grow we have divided the cement disks.

At GARF we used a PVC pipe cutter to cut the rocks and shells that the colonies are growing on. We have cut each colony between the various colors of Zoanthids that are growing on them. Each of these fragments of rock with Zoanthids grown on them has been glued in the 120 gallon reef aquarium. We use super glue gel to attach the colonies to the live rock under water.


At GARF we use ‘440’ filtered liquid glue to attach rocks to live rock under water. The easiest way to get the rocks to stay where we want them is to put a bit of glue on the live rock under water with one finger. The GARF reef glue is a thick liquid that is easy to apply by the drop. When you have decided where you want to place the piece of live rock you put two drops of GARF reef glue on your index finger. Reach into reef and rub the wet glue onto the live rock. Put two drops of reef glue on the part of the live rock that you want to attach. Now you can reach into the reef and place the two surfaces together. After you have made good contact between the two glue surfaces rub the rock you are attaching around in small circles for 30 seconds. You will feel a slight tug as a glue starts to harden. As the glue starts to harden move the rock you’re attaching in smaller circles for a few more seconds. The small rock will now be attached to the life rock under water.



Recent research at GARF supports early observations that Zoanthids are able to extract some minerals from the substrate they are growing on. We have noticed for several years that when we plant Zoanthids on fresh aragonite they grow much better than identical colonies that are growing on inert substrate. When we are growing Zoanthids for brood stock we divide the original colony into small chunks that contain approximately ten polyps. We glue each of these small groups on to a fresh piece of Aragocrete ™ that has been cured in fresh water for 30 days. We glue each of the small groups from one to 3 in. apart, depending on how fast the type of Zoanthids we are working with grows. We then place each of these pieces of Aragocrete ™ in the bottom of the new crop tanks.


We have learned that many Zoanthids do not need bright light. After a few months, the small groups of Zoanthids will have grown together. After the groups of Zoanthids have blended together and grown over much of the Aragocrete ™, it is time to harvest is Zoanthids.

This picture shows a great combination that we have found on several imported rocks. We first saw this combination in our reef tanks when yellow polyps moved into Zoanthid colonies. This happened twice in captivity so we were not surprised when we saw it in wild colonies. The yellow Parazoanthids are filter feeders and they do not shade the light loving Zoanthids below them.

Aragocrete ™ makes a very good substrate for these brood stock colonies because it is easy to remove pieces of the rock with a chisel.




One of the aquaculture products that sells very well are combinations Zoanthid rocks. For this project will need several 1 lb. Aragocrete ™ rocks. The very best Zoanthid rocks have a combination of colored Zoanthids growing on the same rock. We have often used blue Zoanthids on the same rock with green Zoanthids. It is easy glue these small pieces of the Zoanthid to the Aragocrete ™ with the GARF reef glue.


The Zoanthids have many different growth forms as well as different colors. The smallest Zoanthids are connected to each other by a body material and each polyp is not an individual animal. The larger strains of Zoanthid have longer stocks, and each individual Zoanthid is separate.

When you combine Zoanthids it is important to notice the growth habit, because the taller ones tend to shade out the short ones. The different strains of Zoanthids seem to grow well together, and many times wild collected rocks have a combination of Protopallythoa and mixed Zoanthids.



There are several methods of harvesting Zoanthids from the Brood stock aquariums. The method that you will use will depend on what type of Zoanthid you are growing, how old the Zoanthid colony is, and how soon you plan on marketing the colony rock. The first method that we used to harvest Zoanthids consists of cutting part of the colony off of the rock, and this is most often used on very short Zoanthids. At GARF, we use 1 in. wide wood chisels to remove small amounts of the underlying rock. This method allows us to glue the pieces of Zoanthid directly to the combination rock.


When we start the cut on the colony, we hold the colony rock against a hard surface such as a cutting board. We push the wood chisel under the edge of the Zoanthid and we rock the chisel back and forth slightly to create a grinding that removes a small part of the surface of the rock. The pieces that we remove from the colony are then placed in a small bowl of reef water. It is important to remember to not allow these bowls to get cold while you are working. Each colony that we cut Zoanthids from is then placed back in the grow-out aquariums. The colors of Zoanthids are kept separate in the bowls of warm water. After we have removed the Zoanthids from several different colonies, we can then glue one piece from each bowl onto each combination rock.

The next type of Zoanthid that we are going to be working with is a long stem variety that is growing on established larger rocks in our Brood stock aquariums. As these colonies to the Zoanthids start to encroach on neighboring colonies we are able to remove individual Zoanthids with a 12-inch stainless steel tweezers. It is important to test the support of the live rocks, and often by pushing the tweezers toward the bottom of the aquarium while holding as Zoanthid stemmed tightly, we can apply pressure to the base without tipping or disturbing the colony rock. We have noticed that if we are very careful with the tweezers we can remove several Zoanthids and the underlying body at once. Many times the tweezers actually break the stock of the Zoanthid, and both the polyps and the base regrows within several weeks. We divide the collected Zoanthids into two separate bowls of reef water. The individual Zoanthids that have been damaged are placed in a gravel chamber. The Zoanthids that were removed with part of their base stock are taken to the glue up table.


3. We now practice a continual harvest of Protopallythoa by cutting the tops of the polyps off with a sharp pair of stainless steel scissors. We have colonies of many different colors of Protopallythoa that are managed with the continuous harvests. It is very interesting to note that some Protopallythoa grown much larger polyps from the top of a cut off stock. We have observed many times that the remaining stock heals within one week and then starts to grow a polyp. The polyps that were removed into the battles are placed in the gravel chambers. After about one week, the damage polyps attach to gravel, so we can remove the gravel and glue it to the combination rocks.


4. We have also experimented with sewing the individual polyps with a sharp needle and cotton thread. We used the needle to put the thread through the small part of the stock. After we have threaded four or five onto a piece of thread we then wrap the thread around the rock securing the Zoanthids in an upright position.

This method of continually harvesting the polyps allows the other polyps to feed the colony while the cut polyps regrow. After we have harvested one half of the polyps, we allow the colony to heal for one month. We have a colony of bright red Protopallythoa and several times a year we can harvest five nice polyps each day for several weeks.


Zoanthids are one of the very first corals that most people keep. At GARF we have over 25 different colors and types of Zoanthids. One of the most popular products that you can sell is the Zoanthid combination rock. Many types of Zoanthids can grow together and the colors often look very good when the Zoanthids are allowed to mix.

These combo rocks can be made larger so they will attract the beginning reef keeper who often wants to fill his new tank with rocks.



One of the best ways to sell your rocks is to take them to one of your local pet shop. Many stores want to specialize in captive corals, and they will market your corals in their store.

Often you can trade for all the supplies you need to get your coral farms started, but eventually you're going to need to sell these corals to others. Some people start a small home based fish store by getting a home occupation permit. You can start small, and many cities will permit a store at home. Cities like Boise allow up to 500 sq. feet to be used for a home business. Selling corals at home can make you some extra money, and it is a good way to make new friends with the same hobby.

We often purchase corals that are brought in by other people from our local fish stores so that we can add new colors. This also helps keep the local growers busy and happy, because they are able to sell their products then they can grow more.

One of the funny things about the hobby is that so many of the corals are being named. We have seen some great names lately on the Internet, and the funny thing is that some of them are actually sticking. Many of these names will be the names of the corals for years to come. Garf researched this early on. Garf Bonsai and Mike Paletta Blue are a few of the different names that have now become the standard name for those types of Acropora in the hobby.



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