Why can’t I get Xe­nia to grow?

Practical Fishkeeping (UK) - - Advice -

I have a small reef tank of around 100 l/22 gal and I can’t grow Xe­nia. de­spite oth­ers call­ing it a weed, I find it just dis­ap­pears within a week or two of adding it. I’ve tried with three sep­a­rate frags. I’m suc­ceed­ing with polyps and LPS corals plus Clavu­laria, but Xe­nia just won’t grow. Would it be worth get­ting a larger spec­i­men rather than frags? I’d like to grow this if pos­si­ble as I love the way it moves. Kate Garner, email

dave replies: Some peo­ple have great suc­cess with Xe­nia (of­ten too much!), while oth­ers have the same ex­pe­ri­ence as you, but the fac­tors re­spon­si­ble aren’t al­ways that clear.

how­ever, ex­pe­ri­ence shows that Xe­nia tends to do best in less than pris­tine wa­ter, so if your ni­trates and phos­phates are very low (for ex­am­ple ni­trates lower than 5ppm), this could be a fac­tor.

Al­lelopa­thy (tox­ins from other corals) or di­rect ag­gres­sion through sting­ing might also be to blame. Al­lelo­pathic chem­i­cals can be dealt with to some ex­tent through the use of ac­ti­vated car­bon and wa­ter changes, and do make sure the Xe­nia is phys­i­cally placed well away from other corals (es­pe­cially lps).

Xe­nia pre­fer in­di­rect cur­rent to brisk, di­rect flow, so po­si­tion in ar­eas of mod­er­ate wa­ter move­ment. they also like mod­er­ate light­ing, so be­ing in the up­per to mid­dle por­tion of the tank can help. they may also re­act poorly to lower ph, so try to main­tain a sta­ble ph of 8.2-8.3.

Fi­nally, some folks claim io­dine is im­por­tant for healthy Xe­nia. You can add io­dine in the form of lu­gol’s so­lu­tion and this shouldn’t do any harm if done prop­erly. it’s im­por­tant to test be­fore (and dur­ing) dos­ing to en­sure you’re not adding too much; 0.06ppm is the level to aim for, which is sim­i­lar to that of nat­u­ral sea­wa­ter.

i hope this helps. Do re­mem­ber Xe­nia can look in­cred­i­ble but also be quite in­va­sive, so you may wish to try and keep it con­tained on ded­i­cated rocky ‘is­lands’. this can be a use­ful tech­nique for man­ag­ing its growth and keep­ing it in check.

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