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Pulsing Xenia – The Heartbeat of a Reef Aquarium

Pom-Pom Pulsing Xenia is one of my favorite corals. Quite simplistic, in color and shape, but there is something about the pulsing action and the beauty of the polyps that ranks it in my top ten corals. There are a few different types of pulsing Xenia found in the trade, such as the Pom Pom and the Silver varieties.

Considered a pest or a “weed” to some, others find it almost impossible to keep alive. There are plenty of possibilities as to why this is the case, but it always comes down to water quality. It is thought that Xenia cannot take in food like many corals do feeding on zooplankton and phytoplankton, leaving photosynthesis as the main food source. Xenia also has the ability to absorb certain nutrients and organics from the water column when needed. Due to the rate of growth and the ability to absorb organics, some people use Xenia in refugiums with or without macro algae to export excess nutrients. Not a proven miracle worker, but something to brighten up a refugium and do some work at the same time. Not to mention a small income possibility; since Xenia has a difficult time being shipped from supplier to store due to the amount of time being in a bag, the best supplier of Xenia is from local “coral farmers”.

Xeniids, despite their tolerance to not so clean water conditions are very sensitive to lower pH levels, especially when there is a constant fluctuation in levels. This can lead to a lack of pulsing, or even to the disappearance of the colony. Temperature, lack of or too much water flow, low lighting, and even over skimmed and over filtered aquarium can lead to problems.

Pulsing XeniaThe other potential problem with Xenia is it’s ability to take over the aquarium. With an obnoxious growth rate, neighboring corals can quickly become the next object that the Xenia grows on, possibly choking out the individual. In this situation, removing the Xenia becomes the major problem. Simply cutting the Xenia off the coral or rock may do the trick, but it has an uncanny ability to sprout a new colony or colonies from the original piece. A Kalk paste ( a paste of kalkwasser that can be applied to invasive Xenia polyps to kill those encroaching portions) can do the trick, but must be used with extreme caution with nearby corals or with pH levels. Again, to most people this is a good problem, thriving corals can equal profit.

So the next time you are looking for a hardy, unique coral, consider giving Pulsing Xenia a try, in the right application it can really shine.

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About Cory Shank

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Cory is one of our Staff Marine Biologists and has been with the company since 1999. He has always had an interest in fish and inverts started soon after his employment began, and laid the path for him to earn his Marine Bio degree From Millersville University just a couple of years ago. Since graduation, Cory has been propagating many different corals including LPS and SPS and maintaining both his own reef aquaria and several at our retail store. His interests besides propagation include snorkeling, environmentalism, travel, and anything relating to reefs and oceans.