There’s a gorgeous pink Nephthea soft coral that seems really common in Japanese reef tanks, but yet seems virtually unknown in American or European reef aquariums. We’ve been drooling over the pink Nephthea that can be seen in many photos of reef aquariums from Japan for over 15 years now and somehow, the good news of this really special coral hasn’t truly crossed the physical or digital divide.
So why hasn’t this really cool and colorful soft coral been recognized for what it is? Perhaps the reason that the pink Nephthea hasn’t really spread around the world is that it resembles a lot of other, much less exciting corals. The pink Nephthea looks remarkably similar to the non-photosynthetic Scleronephthea, and there’s also some resemblance to finicky Neospongodes soft corals, which seem to be a hit or miss in most aquariums.
What makes the Japanese pink Nephthea so special is that is is photosynthetic, and really easy to grow and propagate in aquariums; small colonies of this coral go for as little as $30 in Japan. Now you might be thinking this coral we are talking about is just a slightly pink version of regular Nephthea, or that this coral is simply regular Nephthea under flattering lighting and photo conditions.
Having seen and grown this coral before, we can assure you that this particular strain of Nephthea is indeed a vivid shade of light pink, and it grows rather well, especially under high light conditions of SPS tanks. In Japan this coral is occasionally referred to at the species level of Nephthea chabroli, but we have no way to confirm if this ID is legit, or just a name that was applied to this coral and then stuck.
Thankfully, we have more “cross-pollination” of reefing culture between Japan and the West than ever before, and we know of some intensive aquaculture efforts in U.S. are underway to grow enough of this coral for the American aquarium hobby. Hopefully we’ll be seeing more of this and other colorful soft coral as a nice contrast to the stony corals and zoanthids that dominate our reef aquariums today.
The video below is entirely in Japanese but you can speed it up to double the play speed. Experienced reefers will get the gist of what they are doing with their propagation of the Pink Nephthea.