Arizona Fishkeeping For Freshwater & Marine Aquarists

Xenia: a blessing and a curse

Photo showing how the xenia grows and spreadsBack in the day, when I first started my marine tank I was very cheap as to my purchases.  Not that I don't look for a bargain now, but back then I wasn't sure if anything at all would live. I didn't want to spend $30 or more dollars on something just to have it die. My very first purchase was a small rock with an equally small colony of xenia, specifically pulsing xenia, on it for $9.00. It's called that because the heads pulse in a great rhythmic underwater opera.

I placed it in the tank, and the xenia lived. Not only lived, it thrived.

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Xenia can grow like a weed
Xenia is a great beginner coral.

How it grows

Photo showing how the xenia grows and spreads As you can see from the short video above, that tiny rock of xenia now inhabits a massive upper section of the tank. The interesting story is just how it got there. I placed the rock in the tank, up against the rest of the live rock. It grew well, multiplying until the tiny rock it came on was filled with xenia.

As if it knew it was out of room the xenia attached itself to a larger bit of rock and the colony moved there over the course of a couple of weeks. Sometimes it would split into new colonies and then once a new colony had firmly established itself it moved upward a bit. Each time it moved it would leave a sort of connective line of tissue to the old colony or old location.  Finally that tissue separated and there was a whole new colony of xenia or an empty spot where it once was.  Each of the colonies did the same thing, and so on until there was so much xenia I had to get some out of the tank.

Why remove some?

Gonoporia with slight damage in front from xenia While xenia is not considered an aggressive coral it can, nonetheless, irritate some other corals.  A little while after adding the xenia I added a gonoporia which are sensitive. Where the xenia brushed against it the gonoporia showed clear signs of irritation. I simply used a very sharp pair of scissors to cut the colony as close to the base as possible. A very little was left on the rock.  That little remaining bit, will grow into more xenia.  If you look in the video, on the right just below the main colony you can see a small colony of xenia.  This grew up from only the skin of what was left.

The xenia made its way toward the top of the tank which was just where it seemed to want to be.  Once there, it grew until it became the thick and lustrous coral you see in the video.

If you want an easy coral, the pulsing xenia is a great choice.  It will grow and grow but it does require some work to keep it in place.  It's worth it though, the amazing pulsing action of the xenia is mesmerizing.

Information contributed by: Chad

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