Xenia has long held a special esteem in the reef aquarium world, once cherished for its polyp pulsing behavior, and subsequently reviled for its capacity to rapaciously grow and take over tanks with the right conditions. There’s a long history of so-called ‘blue xenia’ strains but these were nearly always representatives from different octocoral genera, many of them very attractive coral strains, others sold as ‘frags’ that quickly turned into pests.
Blue Sarcothelia, blue Cespitularia, Vargas Cespitularia, blue & green Sympodium, purple Efflatournaria, and a range of newly described species have all been candidates for the most colorful Xeniids but after years of searching we believe we’ve finally identified a coral which qualifies as ‘True Blue Xenia’. We first spotted this coral in the wild over seven years ago and found an aquarium grown frag from our friends at World Wide Corals a couple of years ago.
Interestingly enough after growing it for about a year we gave away most of it to Steve Tappert of AcroOptics and he returned to us a large colony which was thriving in his tank. When we first started growing this coral it was decently blue but over time the color has become strikingly blue, but not only under white light as we often see with so many blue octocorals that require daylight spectrum to exhibit the attractive blue coloration.
Remarkably, the true blue Xenia manages to retain an authentically blue coloration even under blue-heavy reef aquarium lighting spectrum which is much more apparent when viewed from above than directly from the side. This reflective-color property is a hallmark of many Xeniids which have small crystalline sclerites instead of proper pigment colors but in the case of the True Blue Xenia the color can be appreciated through the glass and it doesn’t only glow when viewed top down through the water surface. This spread of photos was made under blue heavy lighting but we assure you the coral looks even bluer in white light, and is a stark contrast to other blue octocorals which only look blue when illuminated with daylight spectrum.
Although it doesn’t exhibit any pulsing behavior the True Blue Xenia is a really striking coral which also has orangey brown stalks that form like typical Xenia and the juxtaposition of color between the polyps and the stalks makes for an eye catching combination. After years of rumors and many mistaken identities we’re quite thrilled to count True Blue Xenia among the corals in our collection, it grows as fast as any of its relatives so we’ll be doing our part to share it with our local reef aquarium community.