Rasta Zoa Care: Placement, Growth Rate & More

Unsure what Zoanthid to get? Well, “don’t worry about a thing, ‘Cos every little thing is gonna be alright” when you check out the epic Rasta Zoa! 

Rasta Zoas are every coral lover’s dream and classic find in the reefing world. Their vibrant red mouth is surrounded by an orange ring, neon green center, elegantly decorated with yellow tentacles giving you that tropical, Caribbean vibe, which is likely where they got their name from (we are still waiting TBC!). 

But, we can’t just stop bragging about them there… Their hardiness, impressive growth rate, and relatively fair tolerance to water conditions make them an excellent addition to anyone. From reef tank beginners to coral experts, Rasta Zoas should be next on your list (if they are not already!).

Summary

  • Common Name: Rasta Zoanthid
  • Scientific Name: Zoanthus sansibaricus
  • Family: Zoanthidae
  • Origin: Indo-Pacific
  • Care Level: Easy
  • Temperament: Semi-aggressive
  • Lighting: Low to moderate (PAR 100 – 250)
  • Water Flow: Moderate 
  • Placement: Lower region

Rasta Zoa Care

Rasta Zoas are one of our favorite Zoanthids on the market. 

Their ease of care makes the hobbyist lifestyle enjoyable, plus their epic colors will “wow” anyone passing by your aquarium – I mean, look at them…who doesn’t want to pick them up and cuddle them?! But, you best not, as they are known to contain a toxin called palytoxin, which we will go into more detail about later on in this article! 

But first, let’s start with the most important care tip – creating a stable environment to make your Zoa feel comfortable and healthy.

Keeping the following water parameters within range will make your Rasta Zoa feel right at home.  

  • Temperature: 75° – 80 °F
  • pH: 8.1 – 8.4
  • Salinity: 1.024 – 1.026 
  • Alkalinity: 8 – 9.5 dKH
  • Nitrates: <10 ppm
  • Phosphates: <0.10 ppm
  • Calcium: 420 – 440 ppm
  • Magnesium: 1260 – 1350

Some hobbyists have been successful in combating filamentous algae (which Rasta Zoas are prone to) by raising magnesium levels between 1400 and 1600 ppm. This will prevent your Rasta from getting smothered by this irritating algae. When raising magnesium levels, you must do this gradually, and your calcium and alkalinity must stay within the above ranges. 

You have probably heard how difficult it can be to get nitrates “on point” from your reefing buddies. So, if you notice your nitrate levels rising above 10 ppm, perform a 10-15% water change and test your water parameters again – we recommend getting your hands on an API test kit for home testing! 

Raising phosphate levels is another common issue when running aquatic systems. If you notice your phosphate levels creeping up, it may be time to replace your phosphate media inside your media reactor. It is recommended you replace this around every four weeks. 

To control the above issues, it is recommended to invest in a dosing pump. Dosing pumps are the perfect way to ensure your Rasta Zoa is living with stable water conditions. 

Do Rasta Zoas Need Feeding?

If you are an experienced Zoanthid keeper, then you probably already know that all corals have a special relationship. No, not with you, although I’m sure they love you too! 

Your Rasta Zoa, has a photosynthetic relationship with symbiotic algae, called zooxanthellae. These algae live inside your Rasta’s tissues and supply most of your coral’s nutritional requirements via photosynthesis, however, your Rasta will benefit from supplemental feedings too!

Your Rasta Zoa will love munching on anything meaty, so high-protein foods such as Oyster-Feast, Roti-Feast, cyclopeeze, and the odd bit of mysis shrimp will keep them showing off those mesmerizing colors. 

Have you ever seen a coral’s mouth? If you look close enough, you will see a little round-shaped mouth – this is actually one of the things that are believed to tell the difference between Palys and Zoas. Because their mouth is so small, it is highly recommended you target feed your Rasta Zoa. Target feeding reduces food waste and keeps your nitrates and phosphate levels down. 

Rasta Zoa Placement & Growth Rate

As with any coral, placement for your Rasta Zoa is extremely important, particularly, as your coral cannot move around the aquarium themselves if they feel uncomfortable. 

Rasta Zoanthids are pretty flexible when it comes to placement, however, they do love chillin’ down on the sandy patch either attached to a frag plug with other corals or on their own Zoa island. Many hobbyists opt for the “private island” lifestyle for their Rasta Zoa because they are rapid growers and seem to have no sense of direction when they start reproducing

Once you are happy with the location, you can mount your Rasta using reef-safe IC gel glue or putty, so it doesn’t float away.

Rasta Zoa Water Flow & Lighting Requirements

Rasta Zoas require moderate water flow and low to moderate lighting. 

Metal Halide, T5, or LED lighting can all grow your Rasta Zoa when the proper PAR levels (100-250) are provided. However, we recommend 14K metal halides or a combination of LED and T5’s for best coloration.

A common issue many hobbyists experience is their Rasta Zoas not opening. This is usually down to the poor Rasta being blinded by direct lighting. As your Rasta can’t grab the nearest pair of sunglasses or move to a shaded area themselves, their response is to close their polyps. If your Rasta Zoa is unhappy in its placement, try to find a more suitable location and watch their response.

Rasta Zoa Toxicity

Rasta Zoas are known to contain a harmful neurotoxin called palytoxin and high levels of Vibrio bacteria in their mucus. 

This palytoxin and vibrio bacteria can be very harmful to humans. Once palytoxin gets into contact with your bloodstream, it can be deadly, so remember to always cover any open wounds with gloves and take extra care when handling your Rasta Zoa. It is also recommended to wear goggles to protect your eyes. 

Conclusion

Rasta Zoanthids are one to add to the coral collection if you haven’t already. 

Their hardiness, impressive growth rate, and fair tolerance to water conditions make them perfect for any reef aquarium. And how can we forget those vibrant, tropical-vibe colors? Everyone will be jealous of your new Rasta Zoa, even we are! 

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  • Roy Lee

    I have an unhealthy obsession with reef keeping and maintaining successful tanks. If you haven't noticed from the website, I love everything related to saltwater tanks like coral, fish, and everything else in between.

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