Name: Xenia umbellata
Origin: Red Sea
There are several species of pulsing xenia, most commonly the blue (elongata), silver tipped, and pom-pom varieties. They are among the hardiest species of corals that can be kept, although they frequently do not ship well. They reproduce extremely fast, and will quickly overpopulate the tank, overrunning other corals, if not kept pruned back. You may want to check with a local reef club or online to see if you can obtain a few free starter stalks to start out with, as they are often given away at no cost when other reefers are cutting them back. They will attach fairly easily to almost any surface, including glass, and their active pulsing behavior can be fascinating to watch. A perfect beginner's coral.
I have had both brown and white pulsating Xenia for months. It seems quite self-sufficient and spreads quickly. Pulsation rates increase in lower current levels. They also seem to prefer more, not less direct lighting. I have noticed no burning or detriment under both PC and Metal Halide lighting presentations.
I never had success with keeping Xenia, they would get small and look completely different from when I bought them. That was until I bought a nano tank. Now I have it on the upper level dead center, as to not let too much current hit it, so it pulses more. This seems to do the trick. High light, low flow, and they grow! That's Xenia's moto. It went from my least favorite coral to the top of my list.
It would seem counter productive, but similar to plants, sometimes pruning back causes healthier growth of an organization. Make sure not to cut off all polyps, they tend not to like that. Use sharp stainless steel scissors, I usually cut at a fork, then use bridal netting to keep it on a piece of rock or coral which I glue back onto the rock the parent colony is on.
The latest addition to my Biocube 14 has been some pom pom xenia. I love the light pink color, it's a great contrast against the black back of my tank and the color of my live rock. I've had it for a little less than a month and it's grown a lot. I've noticed around 10 new little pulsing polyps. I've also noticed stems changing directions and even one of the bigger stems starting to split into two separate ones. It's fun to watch the polyps pulse all the time and I especially love finding new baby polyps because it's quite cute to watch them pulse. I have them under stock Biocube lighting (a little over 3 Watts per gallon), and I supplement with Calcium, Strontium, and Iodide and it's doing great! I suggest for beginners as long as they have room because it seems like it could end up getting pretty big.
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