We reefers have long considered Xenia species to be a particularly weedy species in our aquariums. There once was a time when any Xenia was worth its weight in gold but now you’d be lucky to get $10 a pound, and much of it gets thrown away as a form of nutrient export for aquariums.
Well we guess someone forgot to tell that to a certain South American reefer because a strain of the “popular” octocoral that seems to be the Xenia membranacea species has been documented growing in Venezuela, and it was probably introduced there. First documented back in 2007 on just a couple patches of rubble, after spreading over a range of a few kilometers, the Venezuelan xenia joins the ranks of Tubastrea in the Caribbean, and Carijoa in Hawaii, of coral species that have become invasive in reef environments where they don’t belong.
It can’t be proven that the Xenia was intentionally introduced, but come on, we all know how this coral got there. The least the culprit could have done is plant a more beautiful species of Xenia, like the glorious large-polyped form of Xenia umbellata. Not only is that strain in higher demand, it also dies easily; dose a little bit of straight Lugol’s Solution anywhere near and it would melt into go – problem solved.
However, the Venezuelan Xenia looks a lot like Xenia elongata which we know to be the weediest softy of them all. It practically grows by the day and poor stony corals like Colpophyllia and Diploria are getting all kinds of grown over by the exotic soft coral. It’s probably too late to remove this Xenia from Venezuelan reefs but who knows, perhaps a cold snap will come in and cause this mega colony of Xenia to crash and die out. One can only hope.