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zoas not happy?


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I've had these zoas in my tank since the start, but they don't seem to be very happy anymore, and I'm not sure what I have changed. The major changes to the tank are listed below, the only other thing I can think of is I got lazy with my dosing of trace elements, calcium, and alkalinity, but I don't think those affect zoas THAT much, and my torch that had a huge crack down one side of its skeleton when I got it is thriving, so I don't think thats the issue. Here is a timeline of major changes, with pictures:


sept 6 - first purchased (under custom LED fixture





oct 15 - reef breeder photon arrived



Dec 15 - looking great





Feb 3 - kessil A150W Sky Blue arrived



Feb 18th - not looking so good





Feb 23 - tank upgrade, everything was moved to a new tank with overflow and sump



March 25 - still not recovered, all of them seem very small, and half of them don't open at all










I'm staying vigilant at night, looking for critters that might be bugging them, but so far have not seen any. The only thing that appears to correlate with it is the new light, I do keep it rather close to the water, maybe 5 inches, but the zoas are all at least 10 inches deep in the water, and even the ones on the bottom, and in the shade, don't open. The water is fine, everything else is doing well. The dun cans hadn't been opening much but are almost fully open today, same with the frogspawn, the torch is in its full glory as always, I don't have a clue why my zoas are withering. Any ideas are greatly appreciated.


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no, those white spots are on the glass, little deposits that appear, not really sure what they are. they show up, and grow. end up looking like a mini spiral shell if you leave it long enough.

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I'm not sure, but the zoa-pox looking spot on that one polyp in the 7th picture is, I think, a bit of junk floating in the water and just appears to be on the zoa. I don't see any sign of zoa pox on any of the others.


It's really hard to diagnose something going on in your own tank, let alone someone else's. Here are a few thoughts:


--Zoas CAN be sensitive to fluctuations in alkalinity, and calcium to a lesser extent. Alkalinity that is chronically low, or constantly going up and down more than 1dKH, can really stress them out and I've seen zoas close up and start to die when the alk gets too low for too long.


--From what I'm seeing in the pictures, the zoas seem to be reacting to the light. They are losing color and shriveling slowly, possibly as they succumb to the effects of the light. My instinct would be to say they are getting too much of the wrong spectrum and/or not enough of the right spectrum. They appear to be losing color steadily over time, in a way I've observed under LED's before. Also, 10 inches of water is not very much, and LED's put out some VERY focused light. The best results softies that I've seen under LED's are when they were being hung a good 24-30" from the water. Results will vary of course, but I think 5" from the surface is very close and 10" won't mitigate that much.

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7th picture down looks like zoa pox to me. Do the others have white circles on there stalks to?


I notice that as well in a couple of pics, but it is more obvious and clearly on the polyps in pic 7..... unless it is sand but I dunno looks sketchy.


They also look alot like polyps that I have seen that were infested with nudis, have you pulled them out and inspected them/ done any dips?




Also, do you have any pics closer to Feb 3rd before the kessil?

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Where are is the Frogspawn in relation to the zoa's? Is it upstream or downstream from them? By that I mean if the return pump is pusing water out on the right side of the tank and the zoa's are on the far left with the Frogspawn between them and the return flow they would be downstream. And what else of a soft coral nature is in line?


The reason I ask is twofold. First is allopathy which is where corals try to kill or hamper growth of other corals via for lack of better term chemical warfare. They release toxins into the water and your zoa's may be getting hit by them. Second is the Frogspawn and other soft corals for that matter have long feeder tenticles. These tenticles sting. And they may be hitting the zoa's and stinging them. These feeder tenticles come out at night and you may be missing them.


Unrelated but also possible is they don't like the flow/light where they are. It may be too much or too little. Try moving them.

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I haven't done any dips on them, most of them are growing directly on the main rock, which is all one giant structure in the tank, would be difficult to dip now, and they were doing so well for a few months. The main reason I question it being the light is that even the ones in the shade, or the ones on the sand bed, 18 inches deep aren't doing well, and the light is no closer than I had the reef breeders light. I've always been on the fence between the sky blue and ocean blue kessil, but didn't want it to be too blue. the spectrum graphs they show are very similar though, and everything else loves the light, so I'm just at a loss for ideas, I might try raising the light for a few weeks and see if that makes a difference.

the frogspawn, GSP, and duncan (which up until lately had been closed a lot as well) are upstream, the torch directly above them, the frogspawns tentacles can NOT reach anything other than the GSP unless its stinger tentacles are like 20 times its green tentacles, and same with the torch, it could reach the top ones, but the button polyps that are growing right up under it are fine. I don't think its chemical warfare as almost everything has been in the tank since the beginning, other than a GSP frag and some SPS (the birds nest and red monti caps) which were added in febuary. Could it perhaps be the GSP doing some chemical warfare, as it is really the only soft coral in the tank? (besides the zoas)

here is a more current FTS to get an idea of the scape. on the left that is the overflow box, and on the right you can see the shadow of the return line, there is also a WP-10 up there



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I'm not hating on LEDs here, so let me get that out. When I had my various LEDs, I constantly fought with unhappy polyps. Either they stretched for light, or shriveled from too much light. I to had a shallow tank of 12", which is hard to light IMO. Those LEDs penetrate water easily down to the bottom of such shallow tanks. I changed to T5's again, and everything is bouncing back. I'm not saying run out and get T5's, just giving my experience over the years.




If you don't notice any predators, water parameters and lighting are the usual culprit.


Good luck!

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thanks, I'm starting to get too into corals to not have a proper test kit for some of the other elements that effect them like calcium, alk, magnesium. I'm gonna see what happens if I raise the light, and keep my eye out for predators, and maybe when I have enough funds to be spending more on the tank I'll get those test kits and start actually knowing how much I need to dose, instead of just doing a single dose every week in between water changes.

did you dip these guys at all?

just a FW dip, I don't have any coral dips, they're from about 6 months ago though, so if anything it had to have come in on the GSP

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You arent overly likely to see nudis/pests on them in the tank... you might but you will just as easily not see them either.


If you never dipped them I wouldnt rule pest out at all, even with them not looking bad from the start.

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Just a friendly word of advice, don't dose anything you can't test for. Anyway, i hope you figure out your issue.

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  • 2 months later...

so I still haven't really figured out whats up with the zoas. The palys are taking over the rocks yet the zoas continue to struggle. There are 3 different kinds in the tank, and they're all doing slightly differently. The green ones do the best, then the red with grin fringe, then the red, then the red with yellow fringe. Not sure whats up, the ones that are open are fully open, but not very vibrant in colour. Is that typically a sign of not enough, or too much light?

Since the last post on this thread I have upgraded tanks, and lights. I now have a DIY LED setup that I can dim more accurately each individual spectrum. The only other thing in the tank that doesn't seem happy is the anemone, but he always bounces back after a feeding (makes me wonder if maybe the lights should be stronger? ) its a tough balance between strong enough, and bleaching. I'm going to try and borrow a PAR meter from the LFS and figure things out better. Theres just so many things that affect how the corals are doing, and it seems like no matter what I do, they're never all happy. I introduced a few SPS lately, and all of them are doing great but one just randomly died in the past 2 days, yet my water parameters are the same (did a water change when I noticed it starting to recede, and then tested the water from the change, and it was still perfect) The only thing I'm having trouble with is keeping my calcium and alk up high enough, maybe I need to get a doser soon instead of just doing it by hand once a week.

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