Pulsing(Pom Pom) Xenia Coral Care: Beginners Guide

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Of all the questions that arise when you are thinking about purchasing a Pulsing Xenia, the most pressing of all might be:

How to take care of these beautiful corals? 

After all, you wouldn’t buy a coral without knowing how to take care of it. It’s only natural that you want to learn as much as possible before you make a decision if it is suitable for your saltwater aquarium or not. 

That’s why I’ve created this post to help you inform yourself about Pulsing Xenia care. And for those who are interested in learning more, I’ll include additional topics such as Pulsing Xenia placement, lighting and feeding requirements. 

Now, let’s begin.

pulsing xenia


Pulsing Xenia Care 

The Pulsing Xenia (Xenia Elongata) is a soft coral, commonly referred to as Waving Hand Coral, Pom Pom Coral or Red Sea Xenia. It’s commonly found in the Indo Pacific Ocean and the Red Sea, where it inhabits areas of water at depths of 0 to 30 feet. 

There are over 60 different varieties of xenia corals, some of them pretty common in the aquarium hobby. You can find the most popular color morphs (brown, white and cream) in almost every local fish store. 

These types of corals have been a staple in the saltwater aquarium hobby for so many years, often recommended as perfect beginner corals. Most likely because of their ability to grow fast and populate a new tank in no time. Once they get used to the water parameters in your tank, they will spread like a weed.

However, not every aquarist has luck with them. While some reef enthusiasts say that can’t get rid of the Pulsing Xenia coral, others claim that they can’t keep them alive. 

Pulsing Xenia is a pretty hard coral. But, why some can’t keep them alive? The answer lay in one simple fact. 

You’ve heard that beginners have no trouble keeping them, however, experienced reefers might encounter difficulties. That does not make any sense, you might say. But bare with me for one second. 

Beginners tend to have higher nitrates and phosphates in their tanks. That means one thing. More food for Pulsing Xenia. And with that faster growth. While experienced reefers are more interested in more demanding corals such as SPS. A dominant SPS tank is a tank with lower levels of nitrates, resulting in less food for xenia, and with that slower growth rate. 

Of course, that’s not always the case. It’s just one example of why somewhere xenia corals thrive and somewhere dies. However, in reality, Xenia corals once established are one of the hardiest corals you can keep.

Pulsing Xenia Placement & Lighting 

If you are interested in keeping Pulsing Xenia in your reef tank, I would recommend species only tank. But, some people don’t like that idea. If you are one of those, don’t worry. You can still keep them with other corals. However, you need to be careful. And, I’ll tell you why. 

These species are invasive. Once they get used and acclimated to your reef tank, they’ll spread all over it. They are very hard to get rid of. Xenia corals have an interesting way of propagation called the “walking” technique, where one of the stalks will snap off and grow in another place. 

What you should do? 

First, consider placing them on an island, a rock that’s away from other rocks at least 5 inches. If you see that Xenia is spreading on other rocks, remove it immediately. It’s the only way to ensure that it won’t spread all over the tank.

Like I’ve mentioned earlier you can try a species only tank. A reef tank covered with Pulsing Xenia is something that you might consider in the future. It’s definitely a thing worth try.

Another option is to use them as a part of your refugium. If the level of nitrates in your tank is higher than usual, consider putting a xenia in your sump, as a part of the refugium. 

At last, you can let nature takes its course. If you have more aggressive corals in your tank, such as Hammers, Torch corals or Frogspawn Coral, they will take care of it. 

Setting up a lighting system for Xenia corals, won’t break your budget. Led, T5, Metal Halides are all good choices for these corals. 

In terms of water flow, moderation is the key. Experiment until you find the sweet spot.

Pulsing Xenia Feeding 

These types of corals will grow even without additional feeding. Of course, you can feed them once in a while if you want to see a higher growth rate. However, don’t get me wrong, but I think it won’t make such a difference, especially with Xenia corals. 

As photosynthetic animals, they mainly depend on the lighting. That’s one part of their diet. The other part is thorough feeding on the dissolved nutrients in your tank. As a matter of fact, many aquarists claim that xenia will do better in a tank with higher than normally dissolved nutrients, commonly referred to as a “dirtier tank”.

Why Xenia Corals Pulse? 

Reef enthusiasts love Pulsing Xenia. Most likely because of the way it looks in a display tank. Watching how they pulse their polyps in the water is a view that never gets old. 

Why Xenia corals pulse is something that even scientists can’t figure it out. Some believe that’s a way of exchanging gas. Others say that’s a way of pulling nutrients from the water column. Whether the reasons are, we certainly for sure know one thing. If your Xenia pulse, you are doing something good. 

Pulsing Xenia for Sale

Popular beginner corals, such as Pulsing Xenia, are easy to find in almost every pet shop. And if you aren’t satisfied with the quality of the specimens, you can always buy them online, or even from local hobbyists that want to get rid of them. Just make sure you buy an aquacultured coral.

Keep in mind, even though they are not difficult to find, Xenia corals can have a higher price tag. There is another important thing to know before you purchase a Pulsing Xenia. They don’t travel well. They can get stressed easily and produce mucus, that will attract bacteria in the shipping bag which is harmful to the coral. 

If you are interested in buying online make sure that you find a reputable online seller, familiar with this fact, that can guarantee you healthy specimens capable of enduring the shipping. 

Final Thoughts 

As you have seen, taking care of the Pulsing Xenia coral is easy, even though it sometimes comes with certain difficulties. However, if you decide to keep these corals, there is one thing you should always keep in mind. 

Pulsing Xenia doesn’t get along with all types of corals. It can release chemicals that are harmful to stony corals (LPS and SPS). Be careful. 

In my humble opinion, species only tank with Pulsing Xenia will look amazing. But, everyone with their one desires. 

Now, I’d like to hear from you. What’s your experience with the Pulsing Xenia coral. 

Let’s discuss this in the comment section. 

Featured Image: Dawson CC BY-SA 2.5

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