soft corals text index | photo index
Phylum Cnidaria > Class Anthozoa > Subclass Alcyonaria/Octocorallia > Order Alcyonacea > Family Nephtheidea
Ball flowery soft coral
Dendronephthya sp.*
Family Nephtheidae
updated Nov 2019
Where seen? This spherical soft coral is seen on our Northern shores. On coral rubble.

Features: Out of water, the colony spherical about 6-10cm in diameter. When submerged, may appear tubular or cylindrical. The colony has a fat central 'trunk' with many short branches. Polyps only found at these branch tips forming umbrella shaped clusters, which overall forms a spherical shape. Polyps tiny (0.5cm or smaller) with eight white branched tentacle, often surrounded by clusters with tiny spikes. The common tissue white or transparent, with white sclerites (tiny bits of calcium) embedded in the tissues. May be pink or orange near the polyp clusters.

Flowery friends:
Small animals seen in this soft coral include false cowries, tiny shrimps, white soft coral snapping shrimps, porcelain crabs and tiny colourful brittle stars and large Ghost brittle stars.

Beting Bronok, Jun 06

Polyps in clusters with spikes.
Beting Bronok, Jun 06

Beting Bronok, Jul 08

Beting Bronok, May 11

Ghost brittle star.
Tuas, Dec 11

False cowrie eats the soft coral.
Tuas, Aug 09

Tiny white snapping shrimps
often found in a pair in this soft coral.
Beting Bronok, Jul 08

*ID awaits confirmation. Species are difficult to positively identify without close examination.
On this website, they are grouped by external features for convenience of display

Ball flowery soft corals on Singapore shores
On wildsingapore flickr

Other sightings on Singapore shores

Changi Loyang, Apr 17
Photo shared by Loh Kok Sheng on facebook.

Pasir Ris Park, Jul 17
Photo shared by Abel Yeo on facebook.

Porcelain crabs seen in a colony.
Pulau Sekudu, Jun 22
Photo shared by Jonathan Tan on facebook.



  • Tan Heok Hui & Tan Siong Kiat. 12 December 2014. Commensal animals of a soft coral tree in the Singapore Strait: Ball flowery coral tree, Dendronephthya sp.; False cowrie, Margovula marginata; Coral shell, Coralliophila rubrococcinea; Brittlestar, unidentified. Singapore Biodiversity Records 2014: 321-323.
  • Fabricius, Katharina and Philip Alderslade, 2001. Soft Corals and Sea Fans. Australian Institute of Marine Science and the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territoriy. 264 pp.
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