I've been going to trades and conferences lately in the hobby. I wanted to try and inform newer people out there about some things to look for when you buy zoas/palys and even other corals. Feel free to contribute what you look for in a coral. This is what I look for:
When you go to a trade show, the corals that usually show you they are the most unhappiest are the zoas and palys. When you are looking to buy a coral, go around to the vendors and see whos z's and p's are opened (sometimes it's best to do this in the afternoon after the corals have had some time to acclimate).
When looking at a frag, look and see if you can see the superglue or if the frag disk is white. Usually the polyp will be all shrunken and irritated as well. This is a good sign that the polyps are recently fragged and to stay away from buying them. I've seen this at almost all of the vendors at the shows. There are only a few vendors who really care and take the time to let their stuff heal before they take it to the show. The most common "chop shop" jobs are done on all of the Hornets so if you are looking for a hornet, pick carefully.
Irritated z's and p's that look healed. Always check before you buy for zoa pox, brown slime on polyps, and pests. Stay away from corals if they exhibit any of these symptoms.
What I look for in a good z and p:
I am an animal biologist and I have grown up showing animals. So on top of me having to thoroughly like the colors of the coral, I must also enjoy the shape. I don't pick zoas that aren't growing close together. If there is a polyp here and there, I stay away from it. This is just personal preference to me.
I look for a nice "fat" coral with good tissue and a healthy color. Avoid "white" zoas because they are likely bleached. Also, make sure the z's and p's have a good solid color- avoid transleucent corals.
Any one else care to share what they look for at a conference/trade show?