Xenia Coral Care

How To Care For Xenia Coral

Class: Anthozoa, Order: Alcyonacea, Family: Xeniidae, Genus Xenia
Common names: Pulse Coral, Xenia, Pulsing Xenia, Pom Pom Coral, Red Sea Xenia
Natural origin: Indo-Pacific

Xenia Coral are typically easy to care for but can be unpredictable at times. Pulsing Xenia Coral and Pom Pom Xenia Coral are a very popular, fast-growing and easy to frag soft corals species which are known for their pulsing action of the polyps. There are many species of Xenia with many different colors such as blue, white, pink, brown, green and cream-colored varieties.

Xenia Coral Sensitivity

(Level 1): Though generally very easy to care for, these corals can be somewhat unpredictable. Some colonies show impressive tolerance and forgiveness of varying conditions while others do not. They are also notorious for sudden and explainable death and do not ship well.

Feeding Xenia Coral

Specific feeding habits are largely unknown. They are thought to absorb most of their nutrients through their soft tissue via photosynthesis in their zooxanthellae. They will also feed on the dissolved nutrients in your tank and actually seem to thrive in tanks with increased levels of dissolved nutrients (possibly aided by the pulsing of the coral). They do not require any additional feeding which makes Xenia Coral fairly easy to care for.

Xenia Coral Lighting

(Level 6 to 10): Xenia can adapt to a wide range of lighting conditions but seem to prefer more intense lighting since they are a photosynthetic coral. As always, be sure to properly acclimate to new lighting.

Xenia Coral Water Flow

Xenia can handle a wide range of water conditions but usually prefer a lower water flow. The pulsing action that you see is the coral pushing water through to increase circulation near the coral. They also do just fine in a higher water flow environment as well but this can cause the pulsing motion to cease.

Xenia Coral Placement

Though not aggressive corals like star polyps, they are relentlessly fast-growing when healthy. They can become a nuisance in tanks with slower-growing stony corals and can take over fairly quickly so you may want to place them on their own rock or island separate from other coral colonies. If the rock surface area becomes fully covered, they can bud off and float to a different part of the tank.

Xenia are basically harmless to other coral but when injured or dying, they can release toxins. Carbon filtration and prompt removal of injured/dying species can help control any ill-effects of this toxic release.

Common Issues Caring For Xenia Coral

Xenia Coral Not Pulsing

Pulsing activity is something of a mystery (its function and mechanism are currently unknown). Xenia in aquariums sometimes stop pulsing (often without observable cause) but continue to live and grow regardless. Some aquarists have noticed a cessation of pulsing with low pH and/or alkalinity. Polyps will close at night and when stressed. They may take a few days or even weeks to open up in a new environment.

Xenia Coral Dying

Xenia Coral prefers a tank with elevated PH levels and a higher nutrient load and in some cases has a tendency to die off once a tank becomes older and more stable. Trace elements are consumed fairly quickly in new environments if you have other corals in your tank.

Also, check your placement, since they are fast-growing they may have encroached into a not so friendly coral’s space.

Xenia Coral Not Opening

Xenia can be very sensitive to alkalinity changes. Be sure to check your alkalinity and PH levels regularly. Xenias won’t open or may stop pulsing if you are in the lower end of the spectrum.


Xenia Coral are fairly easy to care for, which is why they are popular with beginner reef tank owners. They are fairly tolerant of most other coral species and are fast-growing. Almost all Xenia colonies can handle most water flow and lighting conditions and don’t require feeding.

We hope you found this article helpful! Please feel free to leave comments below or post pictures of your corals.

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