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Ghost Pipefish

(Solenostomidae)

Cornetfishes Seamoths

Ghost pipefish are a member of a small group of tropical fish belonging to the Solenostomidae family, a relative of the True Pipefish and the Seahorse, the Syngnathidae family.

With an elongated body and a long tubular head a third of their size. They are able to move their eyes separately enabling them to effectively scan their surroundings. Floating vertically, head-down, they suck up tiny invertebrate prey from the substrate using their distinctive tube-like mouth.

They do not have scales, like regular fish, instead they are encased in a series of tiny bony plates. Their tail fin is closed and they have two widely separated dorsal fins. Ghost pipefish are a monogamous species. The females are usually accompanied by a smaller male, she has an enlarged modified pelvic fin which forms a pouch for her to brood 300+ fertilised eggs.

2 species found on this page.

Ornate (Harlequin) Ghost Pipefish

Solenostomus paradoxus

The ornate ghost pipefish or harlequin ghost pipefish is a very ?spikey?, well camouflaged fish with many filaments on the body and jagged, deeply incised fins. This fish is actually quite common, but difficult to find. Once found however, it is very easy to identify due to its unique features.

Ornate Ghost Pipefish (Solenostomus paradoxus) @ Koh Haa

Solenostomus paradoxus @ Koh Haa

These fish vary in colour from black to bright red and yellow. Their body can also be nearly transparent and they can grow up to 12cm.

Ornate Ghost Pipefish (Solenostomus paradoxus) @ Koh Haa

Ornate Ghost Pipefish @ Koh Haa

The ornate ghost pipefish is usually found alone or in pairs and can often be found hiding close to the branches of gorgonian sea fans, or hiding in gaps between corals and rocks.

Robust Ghost Pipefish

Solenostomus cyanopterus

Robust Ghost Pipefish (Solenostomus cyanopterus) @ Koh Haa

Solenostomus cyanopterus @ Koh Haa

The robust ghost pipefish can reach up to 17 cm and is the largest of the ghost pipefishes. Also known as the robust-snouted ghost pipefish or the squaretail ghost-pipefish, the body colour varies considerably, from red, yellow, brown, green and grey.

Robust ghost pipefish are uncommon and quite difficult fish to spot; they usually look like some drifting seagrass or bits of dead leaves. They float near motionless, with their mouths facing downwards, against a background that makes them nearly impossible to see.

This fish feeds on tiny crustaceans, sucked inside through their long tubular snouts.

Robust ghost pipefish live in open waters except during breeding periods, when they find a coral reef or muddy bottom, changing color and shape to minimize visibility.

Find Out More: Marine Life References and Further Information

Diving with Ghost Pipefish

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