Pom Pom Coral Care – Pulsing Xenia Guide

Pom Pom Coral Care – Pulsing Xenia Guide


pulsing xenia care guide



The Pulsing Xenia coral is a great coral for beginners and is easy to care for. The scientific name for them is Xenia Elongata. These corals are highly sought after as they are fast-growing, easy to frag, and don’t require pristine water conditions to thrive in your tank. They are also known as the Pom Pom coral.

Pulsing Xenia is a tough coral and seems to grow anywhere in your tank. You have to keep an eye on them if you don’t like to have corals grow on your glass and equipment as they can easily take over anywhere they want.

They don’t require or need a specific water flow or lighting. They can handle a range of tank conditions and grow quickly. Pulsing Xenia coral care is easy providing you follow a few simple rules.


Pulsing Xenia Appearance


pulsing xenia care


The Pulsing Xenia is very unique as it looks like a hand that opens and closes consistently.  It is generally white or pink/blue/brown in color and can look really impressive under actinic lighting. They are not a large coral in size but can spread fast and a small frag can quickly become a colony. The stem of the coral will only reach a height of 2.5-3″ tall.

The one thing that most people love about these corals is the synchronized pulsing of the polyps. They will pulse even when there is no water movement in the tank. With your pumps turned off, you can watch all their polyps pulsing open and closed. They are very interesting and somewhat soothing to what.

Ideal Water Parameters For Pulsing Xenia

Normal tank conditions for keeping Xenia healthy should be the same as many other soft corals. You don’t need to be overly picky about perfect water quality with these.

Lighting: Low to moderate

Water movement: Low flow to moderate

PH: 8.1-8.3

Salinity: 1.025

Temperature: 78-79F

Calcium: 400-450ppm

Alkalinity: 8-11 dkh

Magnesium: 1200-1350ppm

Phosphates: 0

How To Feed Pulsing Xenia


pulsing xenia care


Pom Pom and Xenia corals will get most of their nutrition from the water column. They will absorb dissolved organic matter from the water column and will pull in particles to feed on. It is not necessary to spot feed these corals, I have kept these corals for many years and never hand feed them. They are photosynthetic and get their food from zooxanthellae.

It is good to feed your tank phytoplankton which Xenia will absorb and feed off of.


How To Frag Pulsing Xenia Corals?

These corals are one of the easiest corals to frag. Because they tend to grow so quickly, they actually can frag themselves if you place them next to some rock rubble in your tank. The stems will grow onto the rubble creating a frag for you.

Another option is to use a razor blade to cut the stems and attach them to a frag plug or disc. Using glue might be a bit difficult so you can use a rubber band to hold the stem down. It will naturally attach itself quickly. You can attach it this way to rock rubble as well.

Larger colonies can easily be made into several smaller frags. You don’t need much for fragging tools to do this. Check out this post to learn more about fragging corals.


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Compatibility With Other Corals

Pulsing Xenia is a peaceful coral and shouldn’t bother other corals in the tank. There is no risk of them stinging others but that doesn’t mean they won’t be stung themselves.

Where To Place Pulsing Xenia In The Tank

Because of their fast growth rate, they can quickly spread and form on many surfaces in your tank. They should be placed in an area where they don’t outgrow other corals and take over that spot. They will do great on a sandbed or placed on a larger rock giving them room to expand. Place them in the middle or lower section of the tank. They will not do well if placed up high closer to the lighting and higher water flow.


frogspawn coral care guide

How Long Does Pulsing Xenia Take To Spread? What Is Their Growth Rate?

These corals will spread very quickly. Even though their stems only grow to maximum 3″, the coral colony will reproduce and spread throughout your tank. Smaller frags will quickly become colonies. I have had Pulsing Xenia attached to a small rock of about 4″ grow to cover the entire back wall of my 4-foot tank within a year. Expect their growth rate to spread between 3-4″ per month.

Lighting Requirements For Pom Pom/Pulsing Xenia?

Pulsing Xenia does not require high lighting. They will do well in a low to moderate lighting environment. Reef quality aquarium lights are needed and these corals will thrive under LED or T5 lighting which are the most commonly used types of lighting today. The Aqua Illumination Prime is a great choice of lighting for these corals.

How Much Water Flow Is Required For Pulsing Xenia Corals?

As mentioned above, these corals will do well in low to moderate water flow. If they are placed in high flow areas of your tank, they tend to not open up and they will not be able to pulse. This is not healthy for them. Plan to have a proper-sized wavemaker for your tank that will provide a low to moderate flow rate. You can read more about wavemaker sizes and turnover rates here.

Pom Pom vs pulsing Xenia – What Is The Difference?

The difference between these two corals is the color. Most people will refer to them as both Pom Pom and Pulsing Xenia. Pom Pom corals are generally white in color where Xenia is more of a blue/brow/pinkish color.

Why is my Pulsing Xenia not pulsing?

It is very common for Pulsing Xenia to stop pulsing for a period of time.  In fact, it is unknown why they pulse at all. Scientists tend to believe that the pumping action of the polyps slowly opening and closing is designed to dispose of gasses and waste. But that is not a proven fact.

There are many reasons why they may stop pulsing including poor water quality, high lighting, and nutrient factors. It does not mean that the corals are in poor health if they stop pulsing. It is common and most likely it will be short-lived and they will begin pulsing again in a short time.


pulsing xenia

Are Pulsing Xenia toxic?

Ok, this is a topic that is getting a lot of attention lately. What I’m about to tell you is based on the research I have completed. I have no medical expertise and only base this on my personal opinion and an article I read online.

Pulsing Xenia is not toxic. In my opinion, you should not be concerned about that. There is no proof or evidence that says Pulsing Xenia contains Palytoxins. That I’m aware of. There is an article from March 2018 where someone in the UK was hospitalized from a supposed Pulsing Xenia coral. It claims that “potentially toxic” fumes were omitted from a coral while being moved. It mentions palytoxin released by the coral. You can read the full article by clicking the link.

This is the only time in over 15 years that I have heard of this. In my opinion, the Pulsing Xenia does not release a Palytoxin. That is present in Paly and Zoanthid corals.

Of course, always do your research prior to buying any coral and know the risks associated with them.


Where To Buy Pom Pom/Pulsing Xenia And Cost

Pom Pom and Pulsing Xenia corals are normally available at your local reef store and online. They are easy to find and are affordable. You will most likely find them through a local online reef club or forum. You can also buy them at Liveaquaria.com and they are normally around $25-30 for a small 2″ piece.