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Unique Pulsing Soft Corals

Many saltwater hobbyists get into the hobby primarily for corals. Coming from a fish only tank I was visiting my local pet store many years ago with the intention of buying a new fish, but something else got my attention, it was a coral that it was captivating me with their pulsing motion. Watching the pulsing action of this xenia soft coral was pretty breathtaking so I decide to purchase it, and this how my journey started into reefing.

The pulsing xenias also known as a pumping xenias are soft corals with eight-tentacled polyps and sturdy stalk. In theory the polyps pulsing action it is believed to be related to the disposal of waste.

The xenias are soft corals which do not have skeleton structure like the SPS or LPS corals and they are photosynthetic so they will require not feeding. In the past xenias were coming from Indonesia or Australia but now mostly all the xenias are aquaculture. Aquaculture xenias are hardier and easier to keep than the wild ones. Some species like the Red Sea xenia will grow faster than some other corals and they will take over to a point of no return so exercise caution with this specie and place them away from adjacent corals or rock if you don't want them to take over the entire space of your reef. A good strategy will be to place the xenias in their own isolated rock island away from other corals where they can be trimmed regularly as they grow.

Xenias come in different types of varieties. These are the 5 species that we grow at Marine Farmers: Red Sea Pulsing, Ruby Xenia, Giant Bali Xenia, Blue Cespitularia xenia and the Blue African Xenia.

Xenias are not all equal. Many discriminating reefers wrongly believed that they are all bad and that they will take over the entire reef tank. Some species like the Red Sea xenia will spread all over if they are leave unattended. This is not the case with Giant Bali xenia which it is noninvasive as the xenia previously mentioned. This is a very interesting and hard to find coral. The Giant Bali Xenia is one of the finest pulse corals I have ever seen. That is why this xenia is so exciting to keep and grow. It has an attractive white/cream tone and large fluffy hands. The Giant Bali Pom Pom definitely one of our best aquaculture corals.

Once acclimatized, most xenias soft corals are easy to keep and quite adaptable to aquarium life including low or moderate lighting. You can find pulsing xenia on every list of best corals for beginners.

Stable Alkalinity and Ph are a key to keep xenias happy. At Marine Farmers we keep the Giant Bali Xenias on each of our tanks since they are great indicators on low pH or Alkalinity. If you notice that your xenia stops pulsing check to see if you are parameters are running low.

Soft corals still need to have proper chemical levels for proper growth. Adding trace elements helps to keep those nutrients in the water which benefit them. Maintain pH at least at 8.3.

Another great pulser is our Ruby Xenia. The stalk and polyps of this xenia have a reddish color which is highly noticeable when this xenia is expose to heavy blue spectrum lighting. This variety tends to grow in larger clusters and is less invasive than the Red Sea Xenia counterpart.


There is not necessary to feed xenias since they have a symbiotic relationship with an algae known as zooxanthellae, where they receive most of their nutrients.

Moderate to strong water flow is recommended. Lighting con also be moderate to high.

Not all Xenia pulsate, but these species have an awesome coloration like the Purple Cespitularia. Cespitularia is a type of soft corals that has a several long stems incorporated in just a single branch. Another not pulsing variety but in my opinion one of the nicest and extremely rare soft corals is the True-Blue African Xenia. This coral's color ranges from powder blue to light green with reddish polyps, depending on the lighting and is noninvasive.


Propagation of xenias is very easy. You can try the Razor blade method. You will snip small branch and secure it with a rubber band or toothpick to small piece of rubble rock. Place the frag on a low flow area in your aquarium and withing a week or so will get attached. Then you can move the frag to their final location.

We try to give as much info we can regarding our beautiful xenias. These Soft Corals are a fantastic option for new hobbyists and with the correct water conditions this coral will thrive and will give to your reef an awesome look!

Happy Reefing!




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