RSS ‘Clown Face’ zoanthids are part of a whole new breed of Palythoa

MASA Admin

8 May 2007
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Zoanthids are some of the most popular and collectable group of corals for the home aquarium. We’ve never personally been sucked into the zoanthid craze but we’ve always reserved a greater amount of interest and respect for the larger polyped Palythoa species, especially P. grandis.

This is why we are so excited to share these pictures of a hot new strain of Palythoa that we personally selected while touring Jakarta Indonesia earlier this year. These new Palythoa zoanthids are medium sized compared to the classic P. grandis, but instead of having concentric rings of color and pattern, these psychedelic Palys has a beautiful pattern of white reticulations all throughout the oral disc.


It’s clear to see the psychedelic white markings that make this Palythoa so interesting

This extremely rare morph of Palythoa has so far only been seen in a handful of captive colonies at ReefMaster Indonesia in Jakarta, but surely there must be more of these making their way into the live coral market. The base coloration varies from greenish brown to olive green but the most remarkable thing about these nice Palythoa is the wicked white stripes all throughout the polyp.

Unlike teeny tiny zoanthids that you need a microscope to appreciate in real time, these larger zoanthids have a striking pattern that grabs your attention from across the room. Also being Palythoa they are virtually indestructible and should grow and propagate well throughout the reef aquarium hobby.


This colony of Palythoa shows a vivid green base color which nicely compliments the white reticulations across the polyps

While this is the first we’ve seen of this new breed of Palythoa, it certainly won’t be the last. Indeed, we’ve documented a similarly stunning strain of Palythoa while diving in Raja Ampat but all we could take from that encounter is the original photograph. This wild type large zoanthid is equally stunning with stubby white tentacles that perfectly frame a nice green oral disc with eye-catching yellow markings on the oral disc.

The diversity of Zoanthus strains, colors and patterns may have slowed down in recent years with collectors seeking out infinitesimally small differences between names zoanthid strains. However between the Palys we selected in Jakarta and those we documented in Raja Ampat, there is an even bigger potential to find new and exciting strains of Palythoa in the future.


Some hot Palythoa photographed on a wild reef in Raja Ampat, Indonesia


Our own frag of the Clown Face Palythoa

Unique Corals is the first coral dealer that we know of which is offering these very exciting Palythoa under the hobby name of ‘Clown Face Palys‘ for a very reasonable $44 per two-polyp frag. We picked up a frag of these exciting new zoanthids at ReefStock and we have to say it’s one of the most attractive zoanthid strains we’ve ever enjoyed.

The large polyps of this zoanthid have long graceful tentacles and with oral discs nearly half an inch across, it’s easy to see and enjoy the reticulating white pattern which makes this Palythoa so interesting. We’re certain that the Clown Face Palythoa and other strains like it are just the tip of the iceberg of what we can expect from this genus in the future so be sure to keep your eyes peeled.


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