Stereonephthyaspp. have very conspicuous sclerites that afford them a rough texture. They are quite stiff, They are delicate in captivity but it is possible to main tain them, particularly those species that have zooxanthellae. J. Sprung
Similar Species: Very similar to Capnella spp. Nepbthea has compact, triangular growth of branches, and the polyps are slightly smaller than in most Capnella spp. While the external appearance is very similar, the sclerites of Nepbthea are quite different from those of Capnella."Lito-phyton " is between Lemnalia and Nepbthea in external appearance, and may simply be slender types of Nepbthea; the distinction not being very clear. Some soft coral biologists consider Litophyton synonymous with Nepbthea. Stereonephthya is also arborescent, but it is stiffer than Nepbthea and has much more obvious sclerites. When the branches of Stereonephthya deflate, the bundles of sclerites around the polyps at the branch tips form distinctive spiny bur-like processes. Stereonephthya species may be highly colourful: In Fiji there is a common photosyn-thetic species that is a magnificent blue-violet (J. Sprung, pers. obs.).
Natural Habitat: Wide ranging from the coast of east Africa, the Red Sea and throughout the Pacific. Most abundant in shallow reefs with clear water and strong tidal water motion. May occur on reef tops that receive very intense illumination and w7ater flow like a river, and may be exposed on extreme low tides. In deeper water it prefers to project out into the current and light. It nearly always grows on horizontal surfaces (as opposed to walls with a high slope). In fact, the occurrence of Indo-Pacific Nepbthea on reefs can be predicted based on the slope of the bottom (Fabricius, 1996 in press ), Nepbthea species primarily occur in the Indo-Pacific and Red Sea, but there may be one species that occurs off the coast of Brazil, see photo and description under Neospongodes.
Aquarium Care: Initially delicate, and a poor shipper, this is a most beautiful coral once established, and it grows very rapidly.
Its health and growth may be impeded by the presence of certain stony corals. Allow adequate distance to prevent stinging and use protein skimming to remove defensive chemicals released by corals. A gentle to strong current, and strong illumination are its preference. It should be placed with the branches facing upward rather than sideways. Nephthea can be used to make nice "bushes" on the bottom in the foreground of a tall aquarium. Nephthea has been shown to be a poor feeder of zooplankton on the GBR, suggesting that phytoplankton may be the prey of choice aside from the nutrition obtained from the photosynthetic products of its symbiotic zooxanthellae (in Fabricius et al1995b).
Reproduction: Asexual reproduction can occur as in the other genera in this family via fission of branchlets. Cuttings can also be taken with care. Nothing is knowrn about sexual reproduction in this genus. They are probably dioecious broadcast spawners.
Genus: Pa ralem n alia
Species in this genus generally have a digitate growth form, with numerous finger-like lobes. The polyps are located on the lobes and in some species can be retracted into the surface of the lobes. Interior sclerites of Paralemnalia are thin needles, surface scle-rites are spindles and crescents (Mather and Bennett, 1993).
Paralemnalia colonies are composed of upright finger-like lobes bearing the polyps. This "thick-finger" species was common in the Solomon Islands. J. Sprung
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