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Phylum Cnidaria > Class Anthozoa > Subclass Alcyonaria/Octocorallia > Order Alcyonacea > Family Nephtheidea
Spiky flowery soft coral
Stereonephthya sp.*
Family Nephtheidae
updated Jan 2020
Where seen? This flowery soft coral with spikes common on some of our shores. On coral rubble near living reefs.

Features: Colony bushy about 6-12cm. Colony is branched with 'stems' emerging from a central 'trunk'. The 'stem' white or transparent, with sclerites embedded in the tissues. The polyps appear in clusters at the tips of the branches. Polyps tiny (about 0.5cm) with eight branched tentacles. The polyps may be white, beige, yellow, orange to purple and maroon. There are spikes next to the polyps, sometimes nearly as large as the polyps. The spikes are more obvious when the polyp tentacles are retracted and the polyps curl up into little balls. The animals do not have symbiotic algae (zooxanthellae) and thus can be found in murky water and dark places.

Pulau Hantu, Jan 12

Spikes next to polyps.

Cyrene Reef, Aug 08

Spikes next to polyps.

Tanah Merah, Aug 09

Spikes next to polyps.

Tuas, Nov 03

Spikes next to polyps.

Tuas, Dec 03

Tuas, Nov 03

Tuas, Dec 03
Flowery friends: Tiny animals may be found on spiky flowery soft corals. These include tiny false cowrie snails, tiny red-nose shrimps and tiny colourful brittle stars.

With a false cowrie snail.
Labrador, Mar 07

Tiny colour brittle stars.
Tuas, Nov 03

*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

Spiky flowery soft corals on Singapore shores
On wildsingapore flickr

Other sightings on Singapore shores

St John's Island, Jan 20
Photo shared by Victor Toh on facebook.

Small Sisters Island, Aug 20
Photo shared by Jianlin Liu on facebook.



  • 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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