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Last updated on April 18, 2014 at 1:21 EDT

Xenia

Xenia is a genus of soft marine coral that resembles a mushroom. It has “arms” that extend out from the top and end in many-fingered “hands.” It uses these “hands” to push water away from the colony in a constant, grabbing motion. This is a unique characteristic feature only seen in Xenia members. The first theory of this feature was it allowed the coral to catch food, such as plankton, but it is now believed it is used for respiration.

This is a popular coral used in aquariums by amateur hobbyists. It requires only marginal care and reproduces well in captivity. However, this coral, when its “arms” are attacked and clipped by Sally Lightfoot crabs, will emit a mucus. The mucus can induce a bacterial feeding frenzy in an aquarium setting that will kill the coral.

Xenia