Help with dying Zoas


Reefing newb
I've had the tank up and running for about 3 months now, and had the zoas for about 4 weeks. They were doing great, then all of the sudden the zoas closed up and wouldn't open back up. They have slowly died off and now there are very few left. I need help finding out whats wrong. Here's the timeline of what occured:

6 weeks ago: bought the zoas at the lfs and they were doing well. Fed oyster feast to them once every ten days. Here's what they looked like:
coral before.jpg
2 weeks ago: Zoas closed up and stayed that way for several days. I went to the lfs and did a water test , which showed a little low alkalinity but nothing too bad. He recommended "revive coral cleaner" and an alkalinity buffer which I used both per the instructions. Over the next few days, different heads would open up one at a time randomly.
1 week ago: Star polyps completely closed up for about 36 hours, but opened again lter and seem fine.
Current: Since the revive treatment, other than the random openings, the zoa has continued to go downhill overall. Here is what it looks like now:
2013-02-03 15.46.21.jpg

The tank is a 29g biocube with 2 clowns, 1 damsel, 1 pajama cardinal, and a coral branded shrimp. The c/u crew consists of hermits, 2 peppermint shrimp (to eat the aptasia anemonies) and turbo snails. The only corals are star polyps and zoas (now dying). The water parameters test great and I test them (at the lfs) at least once a week. The filtration setup is heater and oceanic protein skimmer in the 1st space, half the bioballs, purigen, and filter floss in 2nd space (used eggcrate to create the "shelves" for the media). What is your suggestion for me? Im a newbie at salt setups, so Im thinking there's something simple I'm missing. Any help is appreciated.
The only thing I can think of is that I was told to use "purple up" to get my coraline algae really growing well. I was adding a half cap full every other day per the lfs. I dont know if the lfs tests for calcium, but maybe I spiked my calcium too high?

I didnt mention this, but the fish and all other life seem to be perfectly healthy.
What are the numbers for nitrate, nitrite, ammonia, pH, alkalinity and temp? What kind of lights and flow do you have?
Be sure to take your lfs advice with a grain of salt. They want to sell you as much as they can, bottom line.
What is the light on the bio cube and where in the tank are the zoah's? How often are you cleaning the filter floss. I dont think it is the reason for the zoahs but the bioballs will give you problems in the future. You should get your own test kit as well. I test my tank and I have my lfs check it as well. Did you dip the zoahs before putting them in the tank? Have you noticed any "bugs" around them?
First of all, I don't understand why anyone puts bottles of unknown junk in their tank just to get a purple color. Patience, good light and good water parameters will create coralline.

Second, you should really be testing yourself and not relying on your LFS. Invest in some test kits. API makes a reef kit that's relatively inexpensive. Once you've tested, you'll know what needs to be adjusted. Never ever ever add ANYTHING to your tank without testing for it first. If it's not a food for coral or fish and there is no test for it, don't add it. There is way too much snake oil out there that does nothing but line the pockets of your LFS. Zoas are usually pretty tolerant so something must be pretty off. I'm suspecting either high nitrate or high phosphate. Or it's possible you have some kind of pest. Zoanthid Pests and Diseases
I dont know the exact numbers due to the lfs doing the test and telling me it's good or not, which it was usually right on. I am purchasing the reef master kit and saltwater master kit tonight from Big Als.

The lights are the stock led nights, but the day and acticnic are compact flourescent. The zoa is placed in the right front side of the rock work about midway up to the lights. I really dont think the lighting is the problem, because its a brand new tank and lights and i was told zoas don't need as much light as other coral.

About pests, one time I saw something that slightly resembled the nudibranch, but I really don't think that's what it was b/c ive never seen it near the zoas. It usually is seen on the glass of the aquarium, although i haven't seen it in weeks. Here's what it looks like.
aquarium thing.jpg
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You are correct zoahs are not light hogs, I was more on the lines of thinking maybe to much. Now I dont think so. It is good that you are getting your own test kit. The nubibranch worries me. There are types that eat zoahs, I had them in a tank a few years ago. I used flatworm exit on that tank at 15 times the recommended dose. I never saw them again. I was at my wits end and figured if I killed the tank I was just speeding up the future anyway. Was a zoah tank and was losing everything. They now have better coral dips, I would think dipping the colony might be a good idea. At least you will see what dies/come off of it when you do. :twocents:
Any idea what that is on the glass and if it's a Nudibranch? Ive only seen it a handful of times, and always on the glass. never on or near the rocks of the zoas. I know the pic sucks though. (the pic is in my post above this)
I wouldn't think you even need to light acclimate with PC lighting----I mean most LFS are using at least t-5 on their coral tanks. I don't think your lighting is the issue here at all.
I think the zoas need more light then everyone might think. I had a problem with them untill i got t-5s. any LFS that have zoas are always under Mh LED or t-5. They did not do well in any tank I had or have with PC lighting.
does anyone find it relevant that the tank has only been up for a few months? i would reccomend trying to move them to different parts of the tank. usually any kind of softy can do well in not so great water quality so it must be something environmental not making them happy.