This study aimed to determine the contrasting ecotoxicity effects of zinc on growth and photosynthesis in a neutrophilic (Chlamydomonas reinhardtii) and an extremophilic (Cyanidium caldarium) alga. Experiments were carried out to see if cells acclimated to zinc would respond differently to cells that were unexposed to zinc. The study also aimed to see if extremophiles displayed different acclimation properties to neutrophiles. Results showed that the neutrophilic alga C. reinhardtii, was more susceptible to free zinc and had a lower IC50 value than the extremophile, however its stress response protected the photosynthetic apparatus. Upon acclimation, the photosynthetic abilities of C. reinhardtii were not significantly compromised when exposed to toxic levels of free zinc. On the other hand, C. caldarium had a stress response which allowed it to tolerate significantly higher amounts of free zinc in its environment compared to C. reinhardtii , however the stress response did not protect the photosynthetic apparatus, and upon acclimation C. caldarium was no better equipped to protect its photosynthetic integrity than unexposed cells.