During the last of couple years, some amazing colored zoanthids have been coming to the aquarium hobby from Hawaii. These zoanthids belong to the same family as the PPE type zoanthids that are collected on Caribbean reefs, except the ones from Hawaii tend to be much more brilliant in coloration.
This species of zoanthus has a lot of appeal with zoanthid collectors because their polyps are about 3 – 4 times larger than that of regular zoanthids and they occur in a phenomenal range of colors. Many Hawaiian morphs have speckles of various shades on one polyp and they look beautiful under white or blue lights alike. This coral appears to have substantial levels of fluorescing photoproteins, they really glow under blue lights.
Rare morphs of Hawaiian palythoa have sold for as much as $200+ per polyp in the past, but now that they are being imported with some regularity hobbyists should be able to purchase nice frags and colonies for much cheaper. Honestly if you are paying more than $50 per polyp for one of these, you are paying too much. There are so many color variations between polyps even on one colony that it is pretty impossible to give these guys common names that stick.
Sometimes these large Hawaiian zoanthids can be tricky to acclimate to your personal tank. In my own experience they have a tendency to develop fungal infection similar zoa pox so I usually dip them in Furan 2 which is an anti-fungal medication. After being dipped in Furan 2 a few times they acclimate readily to a reef aquarium.
Once established they are fast growing and do well in med – high lighting. I have found that zoanthids in general tend to develop zoa pox and other fungal infections in low flow areas of my tank, so it is best to keep them under moderate to high flow. With their ease of care, huge polyp size and rainbow of colors, in time zoanthid collectors might end up with Hawaiian zoanthid dominated aquariums.