We’ve always read that certain species of Dendronephthya soft corals can grow to massive proportions but it really took seeing a colossal one in person to appreciate what this means. While diving for the Fluval Sea Flores Expedition, we came across one particularly gigantic colony of Dendronephthya that is about half the size of a full grown man!
The scale of this enormous Dendronephthya soft coral is hard to appreciate in these photos because the habitat was almost devoid of other corals to use for reference. This beautiful, meter-high soft was living on a sand flat with a very gentle slope and not-so-gentle water current which made it hard to keep still to even take this picture. Interestingly, this coral was only a few dozen yards away from one of the most beautiful Mycedium chalice corals we’ve ever seen, underwater or in an aquarium.
While we weren’t able to get scale for the size of the entire Dendronephthya colony, we did manage to take a great picture of our adult man hands being unable to grasp even half the ccircumference of the trunk of this impressive colony. Take a look at our fingers being dwarfed while trying to wrap around the trunk, then look back at the images of the full colony and try to picture how small we would have looked if we could have taken a selfie with it.
We’re still a long way from cracking the Dendronephthya code but if we ever do, will we ever be able to grow carnation corals anywhere near this big? How much food does a giant soft coral even need on a daily basis? What kind of crazy mass water movement does it take to sustain such a large passive filter feeder? We’ll be happy to grow carnation corals of any size in our aquariums but there’s definitely some show-stopping coral colonies in our aquarium future if we can ever figure them out.