Have you noticed yellowish-white spots all over your Zoanthid? If so, it is likely your Zoa has the Pox!
Unfortunately, corals are not immune from common pests and diseases like Zoa Pox. Zoa Pox (also known as Zoopox) is a disease that causes tissue recession and eventually death if not treated.
Similar to the contagious chickenpox we are very familiar with, your Zoanthid will soon be covered in pimples. The pimples will be a yellowish-white color, which will cover your Zoa’s stalk and mat, and once infected, your Zoanthid will close its polyps and likely die.
As it is very contagious, it can spread to other Zoa colonies in your aquarium, therefore separation and rapid treatment are needed.
What Causes Zoa Pox?
When it comes to the cause and whether it is a fungal or bacterial infection, it is a very gray area. You can search and search online, and you will find that no one really knows why Zoanthids get Zoa Pox or what it exactly is. But, what we do know, is that no one wants their Zoanthids to get it!
As it is an infectious disease, it could be caused by a microorganism such as bacteria, viruses, fungi,or protozoa, as we do know that Zoa Pox can result in tissue loss.
There are other speculations from experienced Zoanthid hobbyists on why Zoa Pox makes an appearance. These include natural triggers from large temperature fluctuations and carbon and aggressive skimming. Carbon and aggressive skimming can strip the yellow compounds from your aquarium, creating sudden clarity in the water, which can cause increased light penetration and enhanced stress for your Zoanthid.
Even though the causes of Zoa Pox are not completely known, early detection and treatment can improve the chances of your Zoanthid surviving an outbreak.
Before we get onto treatment methods, you need to consider your health first.
As some Zoanthids contain a nasty toxin called palytoxin, always take extra care when handling polyps, especially if you have any open wounds when treating your Zoa. Protective gear such as gloves and goggles are highly recommended! If you think the toxin has entered your skin, seek emergency medical treatment immediately.
Treatment For Zoa Pox
API’s Furan-2 has been an effective method for fighting Zoa Pox for many hobbyists, which is why it is the well-known “go-to” treatment for infected Zoanthids.
Furan-2 is used to treat bacterial infections, so this may suggest that Zoa Pox could be bacterial, not fungal, however, there is still no scientific research on this, so no conclusion can be drawn yet. As Furan-2 kills bacterial cells, it can also kill the beneficial bacteria in your aquarium, therefore you should never treat your Zoa Pox outbreak directly in the main aquarium, instead prepare a quarantine tank.
In some areas of the world Furan-2 seems to have been discontinued. The reason for this is that the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) believed it was being marketed for use on animals that were not FDA approved.…but, if you still have some tucked away in the cupboard, or are lucky enough to get your hands on some, then here is how you can use it to treat your Zoanthid from Zoa Pox.
Instructions For Using Furan-2:
- Place freshly mixed saltwater into a container. You should avoid using aquarium water to ensure that the water isn’t infected by the Zoa Pox outbreak. Check that the temperature, salinity, and pH of the newly mixed saltwater match your aquarium water parameters – you do not want to stress your Zoanthid more.
- Take one cup of the salt water and mix it with one packet of Furan-2.
- Place your Zoa in a container with the Furan-2 and saltwater mix. If your Zoa colony is not fully submerged, mix up the same ratio.
- Leave your Zoa to soak in the mix for 15-20 minutes with a powerhead running.
- With the remaining saltwater-only solution, rinse your Zoa.
- If possible, it is recommended to place your Zoa in a separate quarantine tank, if this is not possible, place your Zoa back into the main aquarium.
Allow 24 hours before repeating the treatment. It is recommended to repeat treatment for two more days.
After the third (and final) treatment, you should let your Zoanthid rest for 7 days and monitor its condition before repeating any further treatment.
So, if you can’t find Furan-2 anywhere, first call your local fish stores (LFS) and check they haven’t got a box out the back – some hobbyists have been successful finding some.
If you still have no luck, the next treatment to try would be a Nitrofurazone-based aquatic treatment, as it is an active ingredient in Furan-2. If you use nitrofurazone, check with the LFS for dosage directions, as these may differ for corals as it is also a product marketed for fish.
Summing Up, Zoa Pox
Zoa Pox is a disease that causes tissue recession and eventually death if not treated. While it is poorly understood due to lack of scientific research, many experienced hobbyists believe the “cure” to Zoa Pox are treatments that contain a antimicrobial chemical agent called nitrofurazone such as Furan-2.
As there is no scientific evidence of treating Zoa Pox, do not be too hard on yourself if your Zoanthid colony does not make it. Even after treatments, some corals never achieve a 100% success rate.
If you have had any success with other methods of Zoa Pox treatment, we would love to hear all about it – leave a reply below!