Zoa Pox: Identifying Causes, Prevention, And Easy Treatments!

Zoa pox is a common disease that affects Zoanthids in various types of aquariums. This disease is caused by a fast-acting bacteria that can lead to the recession and eventual death of the affected coral if not treated in a timely manner.

It is important for zoanthid keepers to be familiar with the symptoms and treatment options for zoa pox to ensure that you are able to treat the problem as quickly and easily as possible.

With the recent spike in the popularity of zoanthid corals, we have noticed a number of people reaching out and asking various questions about zoa pox. Our hope is that this article will be able to help our readers identify and treat zoa pox in their tanks and prevent future outbreaks so their zoanthids can thrive.

Key Takeaways

  • Zoa pox is a coral disease that affects Zoanthids and can lead to recession and death if left untreated.
  • Early detection of symptoms is crucial for effective treatment and preventing further harm to the reef tank environment.
  • Addressing the common causes and applying suitable treatment methods can promote recovery and maintain a healthy coral community.
An Infographic of A Zoanthid Coral Care Sheet

Symptoms Of Zoa Pox

How to treat zoa pox

There are a number of common zoa pox symptoms that are easy to detect and offer plenty of notice that there is a problem with your zoanthids. Keeping an eye out for any of these symptoms should be able to confirm something is wrong and give you plenty of time to start treatment before things get bad.

Bumps And Pustules

Bumps And Pustules are a common sign of zoa pox

Zoa Pox is characterized by the appearance of small, pimple-like pustules on the stalk and mat of zoanthids and palythoa. These bumps can range in color from white spots to yellowish-white growths. The pustules irritate the polyps, causing them to close up in early stages, eventually leading to more pustules as the disease progresses.

Tissue Recession

Tissue Recession is a common symptom of zoa pox

As the infection spreads, tissue recession may occur in affected zoanthids. The polyps’ tissue begins to recede, potentially leading to the eventual death of the coral if left untreated. This can be particularly noticeable in smaller, weaker zoas that are less able to handle stress.

Poor Polyp Extension

Zoa pox usually causes Poor Polyp Extension

Zoa Pox also affects the extension of polyps. As the bumps and pustules form on the stalk and mat, the polyps struggle to open fully. This restricted extension is an early sign of the disease and can worsen as it progresses.

Slime Production

Some zoanthids will produce large amounts of slime when suffering from zoa pox

Infected zoanthids may also produce an excessive amount of slime. This overproduction is a response to the stress and irritation caused by the disease and can be an observable indication of Zoa Pox.


A lack of color can be common during zoa pox

Discolouration is another symptom of Zoa Pox. As the infection takes hold, the affected zoanthids may lose their vibrant colors and take on a more muted or pale appearance. This change in color can be particularly noticeable compared to unaffected colonies nearby.

Lack of Growth

A lack of growth is a very common symptom of zoa pox

Lastly, Zoa Pox can also hinder the growth of affected zoanthid colonies. The disease’s impact on polyp extension, tissue recession, and overall health makes it difficult for the zoanthids to flourish. Consequently, a noticeable lack of growth may be observed in infected colonies.

An infographic going over Symptoms Of zoa pox

Common Causes Of Zoa Pox

Common Causes Of Zoa Pox

Technically, all zoa pox infections are caused by bacteria but there are other things that can drastically increase the chances of your zoanthids becoming infected. Most people who end up with a zoa pox infection have multiple problems occurring at the same time.

Bacterial Infection

Zoa pox is caused by a Bacterial Infection

Zoa pox is caused by bacterial infections, but the exact type of bacteria is up for debait. These bacteria can thrive in various marine environments, leading to the development of Zoa pox in susceptible tanks. When infected, corals exhibit symptoms such as growth of nodules, reduced polyp extension, and tissue recession. To prevent bacterial infections, maintaining a clean and well-regulated aquarium is crucial.

Poor Water Quality

Poor Water Quality can increase the chances of your zoanthid developing zoa pox

Poor water quality plays a significant role in the onset of Zoa pox. High levels of ammonia, nitrites, and phosphates can weaken corals’ immune systems, making them more susceptible to infections. Regular water testing and maintenance are essential in keeping corals healthy and preventing diseases like Zoa pox.

We usually recommend the following water parameters for most zoanthid morphs:

  • Salinity: 1.025 Specific Gravity
  • pH: 8.0-8.4
  • Ammonia: 0 ppm
  • Nitrites: 0 ppm
  • Nitrates: 1-10ppm
  • Phosphates: 0.01-0.05ppm

Keeping your water parameters within the above ranges can reduce the chances of your zoanthids having problems with zoa pox.


Stress can increase the chances of your zoanthids developing zoa pox

Stress in zoanthids is another contributing factor to Zoa pox. Causes of stress include poor water quality, insufficient lighting, inadequate water flow, and drastic changes in environmental conditions. Minimizing stress, ensuring coral compatibility, and maintaining a stable environment can help prevent the development of Zoa pox.


Overcrowding can cause zoa pox to spread rapidly

Overcrowding in an aquarium can lead to the rapid spread of Zoa pox. When corals are placed too close together, the infection can easily spread from one coral to another. It is essential to provide adequate space between corals and monitor their health to prevent the spread of Zoa pox.

If your zoanthids are too close together then a single infected zoa can bring down your whole tank. We know beginners often start with small tanks so consider keeping less zoanthids in smaller tanks to prioritize safety.

We have a dedicated article going over creating your own zoanthid-only tank that can help you avoid overcrowding when setting up your zoanthids.

Poor Nutrition

Poor Nutrition can make most zoanthids more suceptable to zoa pox

As we covered in our article on zoanthid melting, a lack of proper nutrition can weaken corals, making them more prone to diseases including Zoa pox. Providing a well-balanced diet, including phytoplankton and other essential nutrients, can support coral health and prevent infections.

There are a number of commercial coral foods on the market that you can use to enhance the nutritional profile of your zoanthids. In our experience, reef roids is definitely the best option but there are other options depending on budget and availability.

Introduction Of Infected Corals

Adding an Infected Coral to your tank can cause an outbreak of zoa pox

Introducing infected corals into an aquarium is another common cause of Zoa pox. It is crucial to quarantine and thoroughly inspect new corals before adding them to the main aquarium. This prevents the spread of infections and ensures all corals maintain good health.

An infographic going over the Common Causes Of zoa pox

How To Easily Treat Zoa Pox

How To Easily Treat Zoa Pox

Provided you act quickly, you can usually treat zoa pox and most zoanthids will usually make a full recovery.

Water Quality Improvement

Water Quality Improvements helps treat zoa pox

One of the first steps in treating Zoa Pox is to ensure optimal water quality. Maintaining stable water parameters, such as temperature, salinity, and pH, will create a suitable environment for coral healing. Regular water changes and maintaining proper filtration will also help eliminate potential irritants and toxins that may exacerbate the condition.


Quarantine can be an important aspect of treating zoa pox

To prevent the spread of Zoa Pox, it is essential to quarantine infected zoanthid colonies. If possible, remove the affected corals from the main display tank and place them in a separate quarantine tank. Monitoring their progress during the treatment process will help achieve the best results.

Dip Treatments

Dip Treatments can be a great way to treat zoa pox

Dip treatments can be an effective way to treat Zoa Pox. Dipping the affected corals in a solution containing antibacterial agents can help reduce the severity of the infection. Submerge the corals for a specific duration following the manufacturer’s instructions. Ensure the corals are placed in a well-oxygenated quarantine tank after dipping.

Furan 2, the undisputed king of dip treatments for zoa pox has been discontinued by the FDA with many people opting to use their own DIY treatments.

Without Furan 2, drip treatments for zoa pox can be hit and miss and some of the options available may even make the situation worse. That said, there are a number of new Furan 2 alternatives on the market building up great reputations within the community with Cephalexin currently being one of the better options.

Antibiotic Treatments

Antibiotic Treatments can sometimes help with zoa pox

Dosing antibiotics such as Cephalexin directly into your tank works in the exact same way as using antibiotics for dip treatments. The problem is that you have to dose your full tank with the antibiotics pushing costs up and exposing your zoas tank mates to potential problems.

If you have an established zoanthid setup and you are worried that your full tank may be infected with zoa pox or you don’t want to risk removing one of your zoanthids, this is the treatment for you.

Reduced Stress

Reduced Stress can help treat zoa pox

Reducing stress on the affected corals is vital when treating Zoa Pox. It is necessary to find the optimal balance of water flow and lighting conditions to maintain their health. Ensure that the infected corals are placed in an area of the quarantine tank where they can be left undisturbed to promote healing.

Good Nutrition

Good Nutrition is key when treating zoa pox

Supplying the infected corals with proper nutrition is essential during the treatment process. Providing high-quality food sources, such as phytoplankton and reef-safe additives, will promote coral growth and overall health. Along with proper water quality, nutrition plays a vital role in regenerating tissues and combating Zoa Pox.

An infographic going over How To Easily Treat zoa pox

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