Polyp size from tank-to-tank for the same Zoas?

Hooz

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I have more than 30 different types of zoas in my tank. They all seem to be doing well, growing and adding polyps regularly. A few of my local buddies also have several types of zoas (one friend having more than 100 types), and theirs seem to do similarly to mine. All of our tank parameters are similar, we use the same salt and, while we all use different lights, we keep our zoas at similar PAR levels (80-120).

On Saturday, one of my friends and I took a little road trip to hand pick a few zoa frags from a guy about 90 minutes away. When we got there, we were floored at the size of the polyps in his tank. Everything in his tank looked great. Nothing was "reaching" for light, color was good, but the polyps were HUGE! I have GMK in my tank. They've done really well for me. They look great and I'm getting new polyps pretty regularly. If my GMK polyps are the size of a dime, I swear this guy's GMK polyps were the size of a quarter or larger! He had his frags on 3/4" frag plugs, and a single polyp covered the entire plug! And it wasn't just the GMKs... Other stuff he had that I also have were consistently the same. His polyps were 3-4x larger than mine.

His tank was an 80g Deep Blue frag tank lit by two XR15s and two T5 bulbs. He said the Radions were only running about 40-50% power and the T5s ran for a few hours a day. I asked what sort of PAR his stuff was in with that configuration, but he's never bothered to check. From looking at the tank, I'd say the PAR is pretty low but, again, nothing was stretching. Everything looked GREAT.

It got me thinking about a recent visit to WWC in Orlando. One of the many things that struck me about that visit was the polyp size on the zoas that WWC has in their 1200g LPS lagoon. I'd never seen anything like it (until this last Saturday) in anyone's home tank. I've been doing some reading and WWC says that some of the LPS in that tank are in 50-60 PAR. Again, nothing was reaching, everything looked amazing, but the zoa polyps were huge.

So is that the secret? Is it just lower light that maes the polyps so big? When I had my little counter-top tank setup there were a few corners with lower light. Some of the zoas I had in there had some pretty large polyps (nothing like the ones I'm talking about), but mostly they just "stalked up" reaching for light. Maybe lower PAR and longer photo periods keep the stalks down but boost polyp size?

I kind of want to do an experiment and lower the lights in my tank a bit. I have it setup now so that I have an even 80-85 PAR on the entire sandbed (where my zoas are), but nowhere in my tank is really over 125 PAR for my LPS. Lowering it to 65-70 PAR on the sandbed would still keep me well within range for everything else in my tank. I am also in the process of setting up a frag/growout system for zoas, so now I'm rethinking my lighting for that tank too.

Have any of you noticed anything like what I'm describing? What PAR are you keeping your zoas in? are your polyp sizes inline with what you see in others' tanks?
 
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blasterman

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Yep, I know what you are talking about.

I've found rock solid nutrient levels gives bigger polyps. Lighting should be moderate, but not cause them to stretch.

I grew a rock full of chaos zoas bigger than quarters by iodine dosing, but not all zoas respond to iodine like this.
 

Mark03r

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Interesting read, the par on my sandbed is between 120 and 150 par, I have 30 different types of zoas and I've wondered about lower light being the way forward with zoas.
I have a few under overhangs and in the corners where the lights lower and the polyps are definitely bigger there.

Given how popular zoas are, I'm surprised this is talked about more.
 
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Hooz

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Interesting read, the par on my sandbed is between 120 and 150 par, I have 30 different types of zoas and I've wondered about lower light being the way forward with zoas.
I have a few under overhangs and in the corners where the lights lower and the polyps are definitely bigger there.

Given how popular zoas are, I'm surprised this is talked about more.
Out of curiosity, I set my lights to a 15% reduction on a 12 week acclimation mode. I'll have to borrow my buddy's PAR meter again, but I'm thinking that should put my zoas in 70-ish PAR. It's hard to quantify after only a day, but they all look happier.

I guess I'll see how it goes for a week or two.
 

Mark03r

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Interesting I'll be watching this one. I have a small frag tank I have set between 150-200 par I might lower the intensity on that and see how it goes.

If you post your findings I'd be interested to see.
 
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Hooz

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There might be something to this lower light thing. After only a couple days, my Utter Chaos are noticeably bigger. To the point that my wife commented and asked me what I was "doing to those". :D

I noticed that all the polyps on all 30+ types look a little perkier (couldn't think of a better word). They're not stalking up, but they're not as tight to the rocks, either. Some polyps might look a bit bigger, but it's hard to say for certain. But everything does look "nicer" and "happier" after only a couple days.
 

littlebigreef

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It’s about the wavelength as much as the par. Was talking with a buddy that does aquaculture for his shop. He uses SB reef lights which (if you read up on them) the manufacturer claims they hit specific areas in the UV range that stimulate chlorophyll. So, for as much as it’s about easing off on par and keeping it low (70-80 par) it’s also about specific wavelengths. His stuff tends to have larger polyps and even stuff I’ve set him has increased polyp size over time. For my part I use T5/Reef brite combos and I’d say my polyps are of average size relative to the strain.

The other side of the equation is nutrients. Corals are, to a varying degree, heterotrophs and zoas are no exceptions. Much of the time they get by on spot feedings and grabbing whatever out of the water. As my biology teacher in high school always said ‘form follows function.’ Zoas are evolved to grab detritus out of the water and eat it. The larger the polyps, and the more regular the feedings, the more able they are to grab nutrients out of the water column. Like a large euphyllia it takes a lot of food to support tissue let alone a colony. It’s been my experience with hard to keep zoas like Mohicans, emperors, a-skraks, wolverines that they do best in low par with regular, heavy, directed feeds.

In sum we take for granted the compromises we make for different corals’ need’s in a mixed reef tank. Just because we’re getting growth and color we assume they’re doing just fine. But really it's the difference between getting by and having parameters dialed in to a specific coral’s need so it can truly thrive.
 
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I have more than 30 different types of zoas in my tank. They all seem to be doing well, growing and adding polyps regularly. A few of my local buddies also have several types of zoas (one friend having more than 100 types), and theirs seem to do similarly to mine. All of our tank parameters are similar, we use the same salt and, while we all use different lights, we keep our zoas at similar PAR levels (80-120).

On Saturday, one of my friends and I took a little road trip to hand pick a few zoa frags from a guy about 90 minutes away. When we got there, we were floored at the size of the polyps in his tank. Everything in his tank looked great. Nothing was "reaching" for light, color was good, but the polyps were HUGE! I have GMK in my tank. They've done really well for me. They look great and I'm getting new polyps pretty regularly. If my GMK polyps are the size of a dime, I swear this guy's GMK polyps were the size of a quarter or larger! He had his frags on 3/4" frag plugs, and a single polyp covered the entire plug! And it wasn't just the GMKs... Other stuff he had that I also have were consistently the same. His polyps were 3-4x larger than mine.

His tank was an 80g Deep Blue frag tank lit by two XR15s and two T5 bulbs. He said the Radions were only running about 40-50% power and the T5s ran for a few hours a day. I asked what sort of PAR his stuff was in with that configuration, but he's never bothered to check. From looking at the tank, I'd say the PAR is pretty low but, again, nothing was stretching. Everything looked GREAT.

It got me thinking about a recent visit to WWC in Orlando. One of the many things that struck me about that visit was the polyp size on the zoas that WWC has in their 1200g LPS lagoon. I'd never seen anything like it (until this last Saturday) in anyone's home tank. I've been doing some reading and WWC says that some of the LPS in that tank are in 50-60 PAR. Again, nothing was reaching, everything looked amazing, but the zoa polyps were huge.

So is that the secret? Is it just lower light that maes the polyps so big? When I had my little counter-top tank setup there were a few corners with lower light. Some of the zoas I had in there had some pretty large polyps (nothing like the ones I'm talking about), but mostly they just "stalked up" reaching for light. Maybe lower PAR and longer photo periods keep the stalks down but boost polyp size?

I kind of want to do an experiment and lower the lights in my tank a bit. I have it setup now so that I have an even 80-85 PAR on the entire sandbed (where my zoas are), but nowhere in my tank is really over 125 PAR for my LPS. Lowering it to 65-70 PAR on the sandbed would still keep me well within range for everything else in my tank. I am also in the process of setting up a frag/growout system for zoas, so now I'm rethinking my lighting for that tank too.

Have any of you noticed anything like what I'm describing? What PAR are you keeping your zoas in? are your polyp sizes inline with what you see in others' tanks?

I think it’s the lighting. It’s only anecdotal, but in my tank. They grow small but steady under excess par, (like one to two polyps a week) they reach at too little. If you find just the right in between they don’t stretch, and growth is still slower (maybe one or two polyps a month) but they get bigger.
 
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Hooz

Hooz

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It’s about the wavelength as much as the par. Was talking with a buddy that does aquaculture for his shop. He uses SB reef lights which (if you read up on them) the manufacturer claims they hit specific areas in the UV range that stimulate chlorophyll. So, for as much as it’s about easing off on par and keeping it low (70-80 par) it’s also about specific wavelengths. His stuff tends to have larger polyps and even stuff I’ve set him has increased polyp size over time. For my part I use T5/Reef brite combos and I’d say my polyps are of average size relative to the strain.

The other size of the equation is nutrients. Corals are, to a varying degree, heterotrophs and zoas are no exceptions. Much of the time they get by on spot feedings and grabbing whatever out of the water. As my biology teacher in high school always said ‘form follows function.’ Zoas are evolved to grab detritus out of the water and eat it. The larger the polyps, and the more regular the feedings, the more able they are to grab nutrients out of the water column. Like a large euphyllia it takes a lot of food to support tissue let alone a colony. It’s been my experience with hard to keep zoas like Mohicans, emperors, a-skraks, wolverines that they do best in low par with regular, heavy, directed feeds.

In sum we take for granted the compromises we make for different corals’ need’s in a mixed reef tank. Just because we’re getting growth and color we assume they’re doing just fine. But really it's the difference between getting by and having parameters dialed in to a specific coral’s need so it can truly thrive.
Interesting. Personally, I run LuxEngine LED puck upgrades in my AI Prime HD lights. They're heavier on the UV/blue spectrums than most any other light out now.

I broadcast RedSea AB+ daily, and I broadcast Reef Chili 3x a week, so it seems I might already be on the right track.

In the short time since I lowered my lights, I've noticed that my zoas look happier in general, so I'll keep doing what I'm doing for now and see how it goes.
 
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Hooz

Hooz

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For anyone interested, these are the LEDs I'm running (original LuxEngine) compared to some other common light spectrums. I've already noticed increased color in my zoas before I started down the reduced PAR path.

We'll see how it plays out, I guess! :D

FB_IMG_1624478349709.jpg
 

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