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LAST MONTHS ISSUE | HOME | AUGUST ISSUE PAGE 1| AUGUST ISSUE PAGE 2

Setting the Pulse of Propagation: XENIA
READER OF THE MONTH - Dave Aalbertsberg


Reef Aquarium Farming News
Online Newsletter for Reef Aquarium Propagation Research

ISSUE # 8 page 3 AUGUST 1997



Setting the Pulse of Propagation: XENIA

One of the most unusual corals I've seen in captivity is xenia. There are five varieties of xenia in Sally Jo Headlee's captivating 55-gallon reef aquarium at GARF. Two of them are most impressive.

Reef Aquarium Farming News

SALLY JO'S XENIAS - LEFT POM POM IS READY TO CUT


Within this captive reef is a perfect specimen of the best pulsing xenia I've seen. It is the white Fiji pom pom xenia, very elegant, growing on robust white stalks. Branching out above them are multitudes of soft feathery polyps which individually pulse every few seconds with their individual captivating rhythms. The face of the polyps are graced with a blush of blue-violet. This pulsating beauty must be seen in real life to fully appreciate.

Reef Aquarium xenia

FIJI POM POM AND BALI TWO COLOR XENIAS


Next to it is perched a majestic Bali xenia. The polyp faces are soft brown in stark contrast to the snowy pure whiteness of the polyp backs, branches and trunk.

Are such alluring corals difficult to grow and propagate? Not if you know what they need. Xenia, especially the two beauties I just described, are somewhat difficult to ship but knowing how to ship them will help.

Are they hard to propagate? Well, that's not as scary as it might look either. These are fun and easy corals to propagate despite what you might have expected because of their captivating beauty.

Reef Aquarium xenia open


It CAN be a bit scary cutting into a coral that is so prized that you're scarred to death of killing it. Let's look at making cuttings of xenia in four easy ways and then we'll look at caring for and shipping these corals.

The first way to make cuttings of xenia is to place pieces of rock up close to and touching the existing xenia. After a week, or several, you may notice that the trunk or a branch has connected to the rock you placed against it. Once it looks firmly attached, use a new sharp razor blade to slice off the newly attached portion with some polyps connected to the new rock. The bare freshly cut areas on both pieces will heal quickly on their own and new polyps will start forming on these cut areas before another week is up if aquarium conditions are good.

.

Sally Jo Headlee has found that the
iodide contained in SeaChem's Reef Plus
is more than adequate to maintain xenia when dosed
more heavily on an every other day schedule.

You can also just cut off a pom pom, or branch with a clump of polyps, and set it on a rock or in a cluster of small rocks in a calm area where it won't get whisked away by the current. They attach rather quickly this way - usually one to three days is all it takes.

Reef Aquarium xenia

THE BALI XENIA HAS 10 HEADS

If that seems easy enough then try the next step. Take the coral you just attached and cut the whole pom pom off leaving just half of the trunk as a bare stump. Place the pom pom back on a rock or on the small rocks as you did earlier and it will attach again and the stump will grow new polyps which should be quite small but very noticeable by the end of a week. They continue to grow and when these polyps grow larger you can cut both of these stalks of xenia off and do it again, doubling your collection each time you do so.

When using this method variable tank currents are your enemy. They will whisk your new cuttings away and keep them from attaching. I turn off my variable current for a few days while the cuttings attach, then I turn it back on. A gravel bowl can help keep the new cutting from blowing away too. See the February issue of this magazine for details on how to do the gravel bowl.

Speaking of gravel bed or gravel bowl attachment, we WILL need the bowl for our next method. Some people cut off individual, yes single skinny little polyps and put each of them in the gravel bowl to attach to small aragonite rock chips, cement chips or CaribSea Aruba Shell coarse aragonite gravel. I wanted to get more cuttings going of the Fiji pom pom and Bali xenia from Sally Jo. So I got the scissors and a turkey baster out and started snipping off individual polyps and sucking them up with the baster and squirting them into a bowl. I completely stripped two small stalks of all their polyps. I put the polyps in a gravel bowl in another tank and watched both the stripped stalks and the polyps. A week later the bare stalks had quite small polyps again and the polyps in the gravel bowl were attached and well expanded.

If your xenia do not pulse,
try increasing the light or at least
moving them up closer to the light.

I just couldn't stand how good these polyps looked so I grabbed the scissors again and cut each of these individual polyps off of their single stems that were newly attached to aragonite rock chips. This effectively doubled the number of xenia growing in the gravel bowl after the newly cut polyps reattached and the bare stems grew new polyps as expected. When you let them grow, more small polyps branch out of the base and you will soon have little pom poms on small stalks. This same individual polyp with gravel bowl propagation technique works well with anthelia (including woods polyps) too.

LeRoy and Sally Jo take individual polyps or clumps of them and put them on cement plugs and cover the plug very loosely with coarse bridal veil netting and secure it with a rubber band around the edges. This keeps the light weight unsecured cuttings on a plug or rock where they can attach. Once attached to the plug, the bridal veil is taken off.

Reef Aquarium Farming News


Xenia are slimy when cut and do not always do well when glued to new rock with super glue. Some people use a strand of fishing line to sew the new cutting onto a rock but I find this unnecessary due to the other methods which are simpler.

Xenia appear to be completely or nearly completely dependent upon food energy produced by the symbiotic algae (zooxanthellae) in their polyps. Feeding them doesn't seem to make any difference in their expansion or growth but the lighting level really does! You can grow xenia under moderate lighting, but they will look healthier, bigger and grow noticeably faster under bright lighting. The growth rate is excellent under VHO, metal halide or power compact fluorescent lighting.

Recently a local aquarist bought a modest cutting of the Fiji pom pom xenia from me. It had about eight polyps that pulsed well when it was growing in my daughter's tank six inches beneath one Triton and one Blue Moon bulb - just 40 watts each. The xenia's growth rate increased as it doubled in size the first week in this aquarist's tank under bright power compact lighting. Bright lighting also causes them to pulse better. His decorator crab then cut the whole stalk off, leaving just a thin layer of skin on the rock. He was shocked and a bit upset at the crab! To his surprise, polyps grew back from the smooth skin and now there are over a dozen pulsing away again. All this in less than a month. This coral takes a lickin' and keeps on tickin'.

If your xenia do not pulse, try increasing the light or at least moving them up closer to the light. When I make individual polyp cuttings and transfer them to my gravel bowl where the lighting is low, I notice that the polyps stop pulsing after several days - usually three. When they finish attaching and I move them back to higher lighting, they usually start pulsing again within two days. They pulse at night too when they're grown under bright daytime lighting.

Last night the power went out at about midnight (messing up this article) and I made the rounds with a flashlight to check on things. There in the calm dark aquarium the Fiji pom poms were well expanded and pulsing very nicely. The Bali xenia were pulsing lightly also. Sometimes is is difficult to see if the Bali xenia is pulsing. The absence of water current enhances the pulsing. It is then doubly easy to see if these corals are pulsing without conflicting movement from water currents.

Xenia needs iodide to grow and stay healthy. You can use a one percent potassium iodide solution and dose your tanks twice a week with one drop per six gallons of tank water. This is good for all your corals. Mushroom anemones really love it. You can safely use up to one drop per two gallons. Don't double or quadruple this rate so that you only have to dose once every week or two. Breaking your iodide dosing up into smaller daily doses is even a little better than the twice a week routine. Smaller daily doses are the least shocking to your corals. So, one drop per 7 - 20 gallons would be a safe daily dose.

Sally Jo Headlee has found that the iodide contained in SeaChem's Reef Plus is adequate to maintain xenia when dosed more heavily on an every other day schedule.

Marlin Atkinson talked about iodine and iodide at the Western Marine Conference last month in Vegas. He warned against using Lugol's solution or strong iodine solution to dose your reef tanks due to the harmful oxidizing effects that iodine can produce. Regular iodide (potassium iodide) supplements do not produce this effect. Several people at the conference including Marlin reported that they or friends have lost Xenia corals after switching to Lugol's solution or strong iodine. Not everybody agrees that this is possible. However these solutions still seem to be ideal for treating a variety of infected corals by dipping them in a quart of tank water with 10-20 drops of strong iodine or Lugol's. The stronger antiseptic effect may still be helpful for most corals.

Shipping Xenia is often difficult but the following is how LeRoy Headlee and I have prepared it for shipping. For short trips (an hour or less) I just pull it out of the aquarium and stick it in a bucket with some tank water just coving the coral and the buyer or trader takes it home with absolutely no problems.

To get it from GARF in Boise, Idaho to my house in Roy, Utah (which keeps it bagged up for about six hours) LeRoy uses a special preparation technique he learned from Noel Curry of Scientific Corals in Atlanta, Georgia. First he takes the coral out of water attached to a cement plug and lets it set out of water for one minute dripping upside down into the tank. Then he puts it back in the water in a swift current to wash off the slime it has emitted. Do this twice for good measure and then bag it up. This gets rid of toxic slime that would otherwise pollute the water and make the coral sick and possibly die during long transit times.

Reef Aquarium Farming News

TWIN BAR XENIA GROWS VERY FAST

Reef Aquarium Farming News

We filled the bags with about four to six inches of water and then put the cement plugs into doughnut shaped Styrofoam rings that keep them afloat upside down in the water. This protects the coral and keeps it higher in the water where the oxygen level is higher. This method works very well and the corals are not negatively impacted at all during a six hour trip. Kordon makes a new fish bag that breathes and requires no oxygen packing. These might possibly be helpful for longer trips requiring overnight mailing.

Temperature is another concern with xenia. If it gets too warm it dies easily. You might have a hard time shipping it in warm weather. This also applies to your aquarium temperature. I have good luck with 77-79 degrees but they prefer about 75 at GARF. Temperatures over 80 can lead to more loses. Xenia can be very easy to grow if you just take these few simple precautions. It is perhaps my favorite coral to keep and propagate.


READER OF THE MONTH - Dave Aalbertsberg

THANK YOU TO DAVE FOR THE STORY AND PICTURES.

My name is Dave Aalbertsberg, I live in Roseville Michigan. My interest in aquariums has gone on for about 20 years now, about half of which was fresh water animals. I became interested in salt water in about 1982 when I purchased a powder blue tang (not quite the fish for a beginner), I soon down graded to a couple clown fish which worked out a little better.

Reef Aquarium Farming News

DAVE'S PICTURE OF AN ACROPORA HEAD


In 1983 I signed up for the Marine Corps and was stationed on Oahu Hawaii, I learned to scuba dive there and soon had a small aquarium in the barracks with some live rock, native fishes, and a few inverts, most of which did rather well. If I knew then what I know now I may still be there.... After I got out of the service I came back to good old Michigan and started another salt tank or two. These tanks were mainly fish only for a few years then I started trying out a few corals here & there which did ok, but did not really proliferate the way I thought they should and soon they even perished. This made me go without inverts for a while until I could learn more about them.

One day I was reading through a Marine Fish Monthly Magazine. when I saw an add for a place here in Michigan called Tropicorium, a huge coral farm and another add for MACNA IV, I was very excited about going to both. MACNA was a while away, but Tropicorium was just a car ride away so I got into my car and drove, about 45 minutes later I was there knee deep in live rock, coral, zooxanthellae, and the knowledge of Dick Perrin.

Reef Aquarium Farming News

THESE ARE SOME GREAT GREEN STARS


After about 3 hours of looking and wondering I spent about $800 bucks on live rock and coral for my 50 gal tank back home. I set all this stuff up and it did rather well for a while then the green stuff came and lots of it. About this time I was very disappointed and confused about what I was going to do. This is where MACNA came in, my brother Jim & I went and met a lot of people and learned a lot about how to keep these reef aquariums going without much of a hitch. We learned about things like Live Sand, R.O. Filters, Metal Halide lighting etc. well out came the old credit card again.

I use super glue gel to attach sps corals
and some soft corals like palythoa .

I still use Dacron fishing line to attach xenia
to the rock only because they attach so quickly
that I can remove the line before I trade them.

It has been approximately 4 years since then and I now have 3 reef aquaria: 1 fifty gal the original which is approximatly 4 years old & houses mostly soft corals, 1 eighteen gal which is about 1 1/2 years old and is my Xenia grow out tank, and lastly my latest the 150 gal which houses mainly large and small polyp stony corals. All tanks are lighted using metal halide and actinic bulbs, they all have a living deep sand substrate and live rock

.

Reef Aquarium Farming News

WE ALL NEED TO PROPAGATE RICORDIA
TO KEEP NICE STRAINS AVAILABLE


Since I heard about GARF on the internet I have Learned a lot about using such things as "super glue gel" to glue corals to "Aragocrete? ". These are some very exciting innovations considering I usually use Dacron fishing line, plumbers epoxy and live rock from my own stock to make cuttings on. I am sure you can get a lot of information about the use of these things from GARF so I am just going to tell you a little about my own experiences with them.

Reef Aquarium Farming News


As far as Aragocrete? goes I pretty much use LeRoy's recipe. I use one part Portland cement and five parts aragonite, crushed shells, crushed coral skeletons, and any other thing I can get my hands on. I mix all this up with a little water and put it into molds made from aragonite. I make these rocks about an inch thick four inches wide and eight inches long. When they have cured completely I use a hammer and chisel to bust them up into one to two inch size rocks which look very natural, I then use super glue gel to attach sps corals and some soft corals like palythoa to them. I still use Dacron fishing line to attach xenia to the rock only because they attach so quickly that I can remove the line before I trade them.

Reef Aquarium Farming News


Without the efforts of people like LeRoy I think the hobby and industry would be very boring. If you want to add a little spice to your hobby or business I suggest you really look at this web sight open your mind to new innovations and just go reef happy. I have, and I'll tell you what, It keeps me going in a forward direction.



LIKE WE HAVE SAID BEFORE - THE WAY TO START , IS TO JUST START!

ENJOY- LEARN - AND SHARE :)




INDEX OF OUR RESEARCH
ALGAE CONTROL CENTRAL
REEF JANITORS ALGAE CONTROL CENTRAL

Use this site to solve your reef aquarium algae problems, and help support our research!!!


Learn how you can grow a wonderful reef aquarium like the one we visit in this May 1997 special feature

Learn to set up your own fantastic reef aquarium like
Sally Jo's

You can learn how a reef aquarium grows into a mature sps coral reef

Sally Jo's 55 gallon reef is starting to mature into a small polyp stony coral aquarium

We will add more about this aquarium each month

JOIN THE RESEARCH FOUNDATION

You can support our research and learn more about reef aquariums and wetlands


1997 WINTER - SPRING NEWSLETTER Our foundation is growing - Please visit our Newsletter


REEF AQUARIUM FARMING NEWS

Newest information on reef aquarium farming


CORALLINE ALGAE PROPAGATION

Learn to grow coralline algae on your reef aquarium live rocks


COMBINATION ROCK PROPAGATION

Learn to grow combination reef aquarium live rocks


COMBINATION ROCK BASE ROCK SELECTION

Learn about base rock for combination reef aquarium live rocks


COMBINATION ROCK SPECIES SELECTION

Learn about selecting species for combination reef aquarium live rocks


LOW COST BULLET PROOF REEF AQUARIUM

Learn to start an inexpensive reef aquarium


55 GALLON INSTA REEF
Visit Rachel's 12 week old Bullet Proof Reef Aquarium


MORE PICTURES OF THIS REEF AQUARIUM


Geothermal Aquaculture Research Foundation,Inc. online tour

Learn why we call it Geothermal


sps coral

REPORT ON THIS YEARS SPECIAL RESEARCH ON SPS CORAL PROPAGATION


Super glue research page

We teach you the Super Glue method of invertebrate propagation

Super Glue evaluation page

Our researchers rate many brands of super glue


Geothermal Aquaculture Research Foundation Feed Back page

E-mail input so we can make these pages better


Natural Algae Control

Reef Janitor Order Page - red leg hermits, snails, grunge.


THIS IS WHAT OUR HAPPY REEF JANITOR CUSTOMERS SAY ABOUT THEIR NEW JANITORS AND OUR SERVICE

NEW

Research page for Xenia and related soft coral propagation

Learn to propagate xenia. Please enter any data you have about these corals.


Soft Coral Propagation Page

Pictures and details of soft coral propagation


Stony Coral Propagation Page

Pictures and details of small polyp stony corals


Mushroom Anemone Propagation Page

Pictures and details of mushroom propagation


Zoanthid and palythoa Anemone Propagation Page

Pictures and details of Sea mat propagation


Image Page for Zoanthids and Palythoa


Learn to construct a 140 gallon plywood and epoxy reef tank

This is one of our most popular pages. Many people have made their own reef aquarium.


Learn to construct an aquarium stand


WETLANDS SAVE THE WORLDS REEFS FROM ALGAE DESTRUCTION




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COVER AND INDEX
LAST MONTHS ISSUE | HOME | AUGUST ISSUE PAGE 1| AUGUST ISSUE PAGE 2

Setting the Pulse of Propagation: XENIA
READER OF THE MONTH - Dave Aalbertsberg