Name: Xenia elongata
Classification: Soft Coral
Common Names: Xenia, Pulsating Xenia
Pulsating Xenia has sturdy stalks up to 3" long which are tan in
color. The end of the stalk is covered with a crown of feathery polyps,
each carried on a stem approximately 1"-2" long. The polyps open and
close in an attractive pulsing or pumping motion. Groups of these stalks
form colonies that can spread into large mats. Xenia is one of the few
corals that actually smells bad when removed from the water.
? Most specimens are captive grown
Hardiness: Xenia is an
interesting family of coral as far as hardiness is concerned. Some
hobbyist cannot seem to keep this coral alive and others find it to be a fast
growing 'weed' coral. Although there are some guidelines which can be
followed to improve the chance of success, no one fully understands what will
guarantee success with this coral. Even a colony that has been thriving in
a tank for an extended period of time can quickly go into decline and die for no
Lighting: Requires moderate to strong lighting. Usually, brighter
is better although some hobbyist appear to have very good success with lower
Water Current: Xenia require at least moderate water
flow. They are one of the few corals that seem content to be right against
the strong output of a powerhead. In still waters the pumping usually
diminishes and the coral goes into decline.
Temperature: Does well within a range of at least 75º to 83º F.
Temperatures around 84º can sometimes appear to cause stress and Xenia appears
to be more stable at lower temperatures of 76º - 78º.
Aggressiveness: Low. Xenia does not possess any apparent stinging
capability and will not bother other corals, but can tend to grow over and
shadow its neighbors. When happy, the coral can reproduce by division at
an alarming rate and may require frequent pruning to keep it from crowding
out other corals.
Feeding: Xenia is photosynthetic and does not accept any known
foods. It is thought that they absorb some of their nutrients directly from
the water. In fact, some hobbyist keep large colonies of Xenia as filter
beds where the xenia is regularly pruned for nutrient export. It is
unclear if this is very effective. Xenia may do better in tanks that are not
Supplements: The main supplement normally associated with
successfully keeping Xenia is Iodine. Many authors state categorically
that iodine supplements are critical to success and lack of iodine supplements
will cause xenia to crash. I have keep Xenia with and without iodine
supplementation and have observed no difference, so I am more skeptical of the
iodine connection. Low Alkalinity levels can cause Xenia pulsing to
decrease or cease altogether, so alkalinity levels should be monitored and kept
above a minimum of 2.5meq/l.
Tank Positioning: Usually kept high up on the reef for strong water
flow and highest possible lighting. Xenia will reproduce in the tank by
attaching its stalk against adjacent surfaces it contacts and splitting into two
colonies. In this way, Xenia colonies tend to 'walk' in the direction that
water movement bends their stocks, so you may want to consider this in your
placement. Xenia can usually be coaxed to grow up the back glass of the
tank and forms a nice background display.