Zoanthids (Zoas) and Palythoa (Palys) are interesting soft coral that are very similar in many ways. It is easy to distinguish between Zoa and Paly for coral enthusiasts. For example, the eagle eye zoanthid is very easy to identify. However, in many cases it can be difficult to differentiate between the two coral. Aquarium hobbyists tend to use the size of the polyp and the shape of the tentacles as a basis of evaluation. That makes good sense, as aquarists tend to choose coral based on the pattern or color of the coral. Scientist use different criteria to evaluate and differentiate between the variety of patterns seen in the wild. A scientist is far more focused on comparative morphology and genetic testing to form a conclusion on this issue. While identification can be complicated, enjoying these beautiful coral is simple.
While both coral have beautiful colors it is the more rare palythoa that has an unusual habit that impacts the coloring of its stalk and base. Palys pick up and incorporate sand and debris into themselves resulting in its unique speckled coloring. Palys grow in a variety of stunning colors to include purple death and nuclear green. Zoanthids tentacles or not as pointed or elongated as those of a palythoa Many are brightly colored with patterns containing up to three colors!
Zoas and Palys are great choices for the beginner aquarist because they are hardy coral. These coral are similar enough to share a tank in captivity or grow near each other in the wild. They are soft coral that can tolerate minor shifts in calcium and alkalinity but need stability in temperature, salinity and PH. They do well with indirect low to medium flow of water and moderate to low lighting. These coral will obtain most of their nutrition through the light using the zooxanthellae the have in there bodies. However, they will still need to gain a portion of their nutrition from feeding on micro plankton.
These coral are both beautiful and potentially toxic. While there is some debate over the actual quantity of the toxin in them they should always be treated with respect and handled with care. The debate is not about whether they contain the toxin but on how the toxin can be introduced to the human body. Some believe that in order for and aquarist to be harmed the toxin would have to be in contact with a cut on the skin or injected. Other sources claim that the toxin can be taken in by healthy intact skin. Zoanthid and Palythoa should always be handled with gloves and using protective eyewear.
These beauties are a fun and exciting addition to any aquarium and can be used in an aquarium with or without fish. SaltCritters has a variety of Zoas and Palys to help you create a visual display in your aquarium that can be shipped directly to your door. Shop online to build your aquarium at your convenience.