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Pipefishes

(Syngnathinae)

Seahorses Razorfishes

Pipefishes are a subfamily of small fishes closely related to seahorses, indeed they look like straight seahorses, and have a long tube-like snout which ends in a small, toothless, narrow mouth which opens upward. The body in encased in bony rings, similar to a seahorse tail.

Pipefish have long, thin bodies and are snake-like. The majority of these fish have tail fins, however some have tails similar to seahorses, in that they can curl and attach or hold objects.

All species have a dorsal fin, which is the main method of swimming, with other fins absent or underdeveloped in most species. They are slow, weak swimmers.

Females deposit eggs with the male, who fertilises and takes care of them. The male broods the offspring on either a distinct area of its body or in a brood pouch, depending on the species.

2 species found on this page.

Short-Tailed Pipefish

Trachyrhamphus bicoarctatus

Short-Tailed Pipefish (Trachyrhamphus bicoarctatus) @ Koh Haa

Trachyrhamphus bicoarctatus @ Koh Haa

The short-tailed pipefish is a slender fish with a very small tail and grows up to 40 cm in length. This is a solitary fish living in sand, rubble and weeds around coral reefs and can be found down to 25 m.

The short-tailed pipefish can be black, or shades of green, brown, white and yellow with fine speckling. In addition to its short tail, this species can also be distinguished by its head often being raised, with a bent-neck, facing into the water column to feed on passing zooplankton.

Janss' Pipefish

Doryrhamphus janssi

As with other Syngnathiformes, the Janss' Pipefish has a long, slender body, with an elongated, tubular mouth. The main body colour is bright orange. The head and rear body are blue. The black tail is flag-like, with a white margin and white dot in the center.

Janss' Pipefish (Doryrhamphus janssi) @ Koh Haa

Doryrhamphus janssi @ Koh Haa

The Janss' Pipefish is a cleaner fish, feeding on parasites and dead tissue from damselfish and cardinalfish. This species grows to 14 cm and is often found swimming in pairs under rocky overhangs or under large plate corals.

Janss' Pipefish (Doryrhamphus janssi) @ Koh Haa

Doryrhamphus janssi @ Koh Haa

After an elaborate courtship dance, the female Janss' Pipefish attaches her eggs to a flat area on the underside of the male?s body, where the males will brood the young, similar to many seahorse species.

When brooding, the males will have a flattened appearance due to the brood pouch.

Find Out More: Marine Life References and Further Information

Diving with Pipefishes

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