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harlequin ghost pipefish

The Cryptic Life of Ghost Pipefishes

Author: Francesco Ricciardi

A marine biologist explores the lifestyles of the mysterious and elusive ghost pipefish.

Mysterious Ghost Pipefishes

Masters in the art of mimicry, ghost pipefishes are still poorly known to science, but their incredible abilities and life history make them among the most amazing fishes you can find in the whole animal world.

The very small family of ghost pipefishes—Solenostomidae—includes very few species, all belonging to the genus Solenostomus. Some species are still waiting to be officially described. They are close relatives of seahorses and pipefishes, live in tropical waters of the Indo-Pacific area, and have been successfully maintained in public aquaria, where on at least one occasion a captive mating and successful breeding have been recorded.

Tricky Biology

Even marine scientists still very poorly know the biology of the ghost pipefishes. Juveniles are planktonic and almost transparent; they move with the oceanic currents and if they survive long enough to find a proper reef, they settle in the proximity of crinoids, gorgonians, or other favorable areas. After that they find a partner, reproduce, and vanish again. Most likely they die after the release of the larvae. Unlike as in their relatives, the seahorses and pipefishes, the female of the ghost pipefishes, carrying the eggs in a brood sac formed by two fused pelvic fins until the hatching and the release of the small embryos in the open sea, is bigger than the male..

Ghost pipefishes are masters in the art of camouflage. The most common ghost pipefish is the ornate—also called harlequin—ghost pipefish (Solenostomus paradoxus), which can easily blend in with the natural background (normally crinoids or gorgonians), thanks to the patchwork coloration and the position of the body, normally with the mouth facing downwardsand the body oscillating with the waves. Even other ghost pipefish species use the same strategy; for example, the robust ghost pipefish (Solenostomus cyanopterus) looks like a leaf or algae, and the recently discovered halimeda ghost pipefish (Solenostomus halimeda) looks very similar to the macroalgaHalimeda.

Other species, such as the hairy ghost pipefish (Solenostomus paegnius) and the delicate ghost pipefish (Solenostomus leptosomus), are quite rare and can easily remain unspotted due to the filaments covering their body.

The coloring of ghost pipefshes can vary between individuals; the ornate ghost pipefish, for example, is able to change its coloration depending on the area it occupies. It’s not a sudden change like the change we can observe in octopuses and cuttlefishes; the change may take some hours. When found in pairs, ornate ghost pipefish males and females always have the same color. It appears that they make an extra effort to assume the same color as the partner; the advantage of this behavior is not yet very clear to us. In other species, as in the robust ghost pipefish, on the contrary, it is quite common to find a pair with different body colors.

Hunting and Defense

Ghost pipefishes use their capacity for camouflage as both a defensive measure (to avoid being spotted by predators) and as a way to easily approach their prey. Their ability to catch their food (normally tiny crustaceans, like small shrimps or other invertebrates) is based on the anatomy of the mouth, which is tube-shaped as in seahorses and pipefish, with some muscles that can increase the diameter of the tube very quickly, creating a depression that basically “sucks” the prey directly inside the mouth of the fish.

Sexual Plasticity

Juvenile ghost pipefishes also have revealed an unusual “sexual plasticity.” Male individuals placed into an aquarium with other males have demonstrated the ability to change sex. It is possible that juvenile ghost pipefishes can change not only sex but also color, depending on the surrounding environment and the presence of potential partners. We don’t know yet whether this kind of hermaphroditism is common in nature or happens only in aquaria.

Rare but Beautiful

Called “ghosts” for their ability to appear and disappear, these fishes are not very common, but they appear for short periods of time and become relatively easy to spot if you know how to look for them. Like every other proper ghost, they don’t like to show up for everyone.

See the full article on TFH Digital http://www.tfhdigital.com/tfh/august_2014#pg79

ghost pipefish diet

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Resources » Saltwater Fish » Pipefish

Pipefish Care, Diet, Habitat, and Species Guide

Double ended Pipefish

Pipefish, together with seahorses, form the family Syngnathidae .

They often get overshadowed by the seahorse, however pipefish are also very unique looking in their own right.

Pipefish would suit those moderate or experienced fish keepers who are looking for something a little bit different.

They require a good understanding of diet and care.

In this article, we are going to take a look at the different species of pipefish, how to care for them, their diet, tank requirements and compatibility with other fish.

If you are looking for a quick summary, have a look at the facts table below before reading on to see if they are suitable for you.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Pipefish facts & overview, habitat and tank requirements, pipefish species, compatibility, is the pipefish right for you.

Double ended Pipefish

Pipefish belong to the same family as seahorses (Syngathidae), and while they aren’t one of the 47 types of seahorse , they share many of the same similarities.

They can be purchased for around $18 (depending on its size) and can grow up to 8″ long.

Typical Behavior

You can expect to see a wide variety of behaviours from your pipefish.

Sometimes they will slither through the grasses and across the floor in a serpent like manner, usually when they are searching for food.

If you have any vertical plants in your aquarium, pipefish are experts at blending in and mimicking their environment so you can expect to see them adopting a more vertical position with their head down, in an attempt to creep up on their prey.

You may also see your pipefish moving quickly in a horizontal bullet like manner when they spot prey that they are hoping to catch.

Because of this behaviour Pipefish can be very entertaining to watch, especially when you have a pair.

Pipefish have a similar shaped head and snout to the seahorse. Their mouths are small, narrow and toothless and create a vacuum to suck tiny crustaceans in.

Their bodies look quite different to that of the seahorse though.

Pipefish have slender, straight, bodies which are able to camouflage well with seagrasses and weeds.

Their long, rigid bodies look like they have armor plating around them which protects them from predators.

Although they are better swimmers than their distant relatives, they are certainly not strong swimmers. They move around slowly as they only have a tiny dorsal fin, mostly using gentle currents, and require frequent rest.

Some species have a prehensile (capable of grasping) tail, but many do not.

Pipefish come in a wide variety of colors and there are over 200 species.

Most people, who keep pipefish in their aquariums, opt for brightly colored fish in shades such as purple, orange, red, green black, and brown. There are even some pipefish that can change color in order to adapt to their surroundings.

Seagrass

The majority of pipefish are found living in tropical and subtropical salt water.

In the wild, they typically inhabit lagoons, eelgrass, seagrass and coral reefs. They use the grass and reefs for camouflage, both to protect themselves from predators and to suck in their unsuspecting prey.

There are a few species that can survive in freshwater too, however, this is quite unusual and most prefer marine or brackish water .

Pipefish require a slow water current to move and get around as they are quite poor swimmers.

How does this transfer to your tank setting?

Tank Conditions

The preferred setup for pipefish is a saltwater tank with plenty of rocks, grass, and coral to hide in.

You’ll also need to include plenty of caves and overhangs to provide shelter, with lots of colour to replicate the natural environment they are used to.

Pipefish are best being kept in pairs or groups and the tank should be a species only tank, or with their relative – the seahorse.

Pipefish originate in tropical waters, and so the water should be kept between 72oF – 77oF.

The pH balance of the water should stay between 8.1 and 8.4, with a carbonate hardness (dKH) of 8-12 and a specific gravity of 1.020-1.025.

Pure water has a pH level of around 7, so Pipefish require alkaline water.

Pipefish are visual eaters and so they need good lighting in order to find food.

Pipefish are a difficult bread to care for, especially for new fishkeepers.

For this reason, many people avoid pipefish because they think they are VERY difficult to care for.

The truth is, some species of Pipefish are, but there are a number of species which are suitable for the average fish keeper to include in their aquarium.

These include, those pipefish with a less aggressive nature such as the Dragonface Pipefish.

Perhaps people think they’re difficult to look after because they don’t handle the transition from wild to captivity well. This is mainly due to them not being fed properly during transport.

However, after the initial difficulty of transporting and transferring a wild pipefish to the aquarium, they can be quite resilient and thrive in a range of different aquarium environments.

When you select your pipefish, you need to look out for signs of bacterial infections.

The pipefish should not have any cloudiness in its skin, fins or eyes. Ensure that the pipefish is not rapidly breathing too.

Rapid breathing could be a sign of distress, for example if they have only recently been transferred from the wild to captivity, however it can also be a sign of a bacterial infection.

Typically, pipefish bred in captivity are a lot hardier than those caught in the wild. However, there are currently very few pipefish being bred in captivity other than hobby breeders.

Be on the look out for common saltwater diseases since PipeFish can pick them up in an aquarium just like any other species.

For example, Saltwater Ich (or Ick), also known as White Spot Disease. This is caused by a parasite called Cryptocaryon irritans and is characterized by white spots appearing across the affected fish’s body.

Other symptoms include respiratory difficulties, fatigue, and a loss of appetite.

The are many medications available from pet stores to treat this disease, and other common ones.

Copper medicines tend to be the most effective, but be aware that the copper can cause problems for invertebrates.

Use a quarantine tank to complete the treatment process before returning them to your main aquarium. This helps to reduce the spread of the disease between your fish and avoid negative impacts of medicines on tank mates.

Pipefish diet and food

Pipefish are not great at competing for food and for this reason they should be kept in a tank with only other pipefish or seahorses.

They are carnivores and use their long snouts to suck in small crustaceans, plankton, and other live foods such as small shrimp, copepods and amphipods.

Larger pipefish will sometimes eat small fish, and freshwater pipefish will sometimes each insect and worms.

In general, pipefish are great at getting into all the nooks and crannies due to their slim body shape, however they have a short digestive tract so they need to feed little and often or they run out of energy very quickly.

To maintain a good diet in a pipefish aquarium, the tank should be well established, with lots of live rock and macroalgae to house large pod populations.

When you introduce your pipefish into the aquarium, you should make sure you have a number of different live foods at the ready (even if you’ve seen them being fed with frozen food, a new environment may set them back and they may not eat frozen food).

Your pipefish will need a variety of live foods, to provide them with a complete nutritional diet.

You should select foods that originate from a marine environment as they are rich in Highly Unsaturated Fatty Acids.

Freshwater organisms lack these acids, so if you choose to feed your pipefish with freshwater live foods, they need to be enriched with products which contain the fatty acids; such as Vibrance which contains unsaturated fatty acids, vitamin C and many other minerals.

Here is a summary of the different live foods that are suitable for your pipefish.

Unless you have a very large tank, you may find that there is not enough space or natural food in the tank for your pipefish.

This is a very common problem and unfortunately starvation can sometimes go unnoticed until it’s too late with Pipefish.

This is why some people choose to also use frozen foods and to also enrich the foods to offer them a complete nutritional diet.

You may be able to transition your pipefish onto frozen food, but some pipefish don’t recognize this as a food source despite attempts at retraining them.

If your pipefish do take to frozen food you should choose the smallest products possible due to the limited size of their mouth. Frozen mysis and frozen cyclop-eeze are the best types you can use.

You can also get most of the live foods listed above in frozen form. Use a cheese grater to make the food small enough for your pipefish to eat.

It’s important to be aware, that many wild pipefish refuse frozen foods altogether.

If you plan on keeping wild caught pipefish, you should make sure that you are dedicated to sourcing live food for the span of their life. This can be anywhere from 5 to 10 years.

If you plan to enrich the food, this should be tailored to your tank and the types of food you’re already offering your pipefish.

Top-Tip You should feed your pipefish small amounts, three times a day. It’s important not to over-feed them because it can go un-eaten and make your tank dirty very quickly.

Pipefish Species

With over 200 species of pipefish available, only a few of them have been tried and tested in tank conditions.

The most common pipefish for aquariums are Flagtail pipefish and Dragonface pipefish.

Flagtail pipefish are split into two types; Dunckerocampus spp. And Doryrhamphus spp. Flagtail pipefish are fantastically coloured.

Doryrhamphus spp. do well in reef tanks, however, they are aggressive to their own kind.

Dunckerocampus spp. are much more peaceful and less aggressive and in some instances can be kept in groups. However, they are much more difficult to ship and they contract bacterial infections quickly.

The typical pattern is that the smaller the species, the more aggressive it is.

Flagtail pipefish

I’ll give you a brief overview of each Flagtail pipefish species in the summary below.

Dragonface pipefish (Corythoichthys spp.)

There are 12 recognized species of Dragonface pipefish but only three of them are regularly seen in the hobby; The Network Pipefish (Corythoichthys flavofasciatus), the Scribbled Pipefish (Corythoichthys intestinalis), and The Messmate Pipefish (corythoichthys haematopterus).

Dragonface Pipefish, like many other species do not handle shipping well either and if they aren’t fed frequently enough are unlikely to survive.

Many places that stock these fish do not differentiate between the different species, they are just labelled as ‘dragonface pipefish’.

The care is the same for all the species.

Dragonface pipefish need to live in large aquariums with lots of macrofauna and live food as they rarely learn to feed on frozen food.

The tank should be at least 30 gallons.

They like to live in pairs and, if you have a tank large enough, can live in groups.

Pipefish are best kept in an aquarium with only pipefish or seahorses. It is possible to keep them with other fish, but it is not recommended.

If you do choose to keep them in an aquarium with other fish, ensure the fish will not compete for their food.

Pipefish are slow swimmers and find it difficult to compete with faster fish for their food.

You should avoid aggressive and territorial fish at all costs.

In no circumstances should pipefish be kept with puffers, maroon clowns, or clams.

Depending on the species, pipefish should either be kept alone or in pairs.

Some people manage to keep pipefish in groups but you should only do this if you are an experienced aquarist and have a large enough tank.

As a guide, you should allow for 20 gallons of water per Pipefish.

It’s quite a spectacle if you keep them in groups because they will often cling onto each other’s tails and create a long train.

Pair of Pipefishes

It is the male pipefish that carry the young, and depending on the species they are either carried on a spongy area on the tail, or a pouch.

In order to mate, the pair will go through a number of rituals and then need to be traveling at the same speed.

The female will then deposit her eggs. The female does this with a number of males in order to increase the chances of offspring.

Young Pipefish are left to fend for themselves immediately, so many do not survive. Only 1% of Pipefish live to reach maturity and continue the life cycle.

In an aquarium, it is safest to catch the baby PipeFish and separate them from anything that might want a small snack.

The young are very delicate, so maintaining a clean environment is crucial for raising them. Perform partial water changes every day to prevent the build-up of pollutants.

Some success has been had by feeding the fry live copepods and other plankton before forcing them to switch to frozen foods once they are fully grown.

You probably have a good idea now whether or not the pipefish is ideal for you, but let’s do a quick recap.

  • Are you looking for a slightly alternative and unusual fish?
  • Do you have a large enough tank? It should be at least 30 gallons for a single pipefish.
  • Does your tank have a food source which is great enough to sustain the pipefish? If not, do you have access to live food?
  • Do you have a tank specifically for pipefish only?
  • Do you know how to choose a healthy looking pipefish? (e.g. No cloudy patches, rapid breathing etc…)

If you answer yes to all of the questions above then the Pipefish would make a great pet for your aquarium.

If you already keep pipefish, or are thinking of buying one, we’d love to hear from you below!

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Just picked up a dragonface pipefish. Was told that they readily eat brine shrimp and frozen foods. Think i was swinddled

are they still alive?

Are yiu using live brine shrimp? Mine won’t touch frozen or flake food. I just added Macro Algae and Copepods so they have food besides brine shrimp.

I have an adult atlantic banded pipefish and a juvenile white nose pipefish in my sea horse tank good luck feeding anything but live brine, amphopods and copepods live have yet to see either sea horses or pipefish eat anything but live prey items all mine are doing fine but I spend about 36 bucks a week on live food plus ghost shrimp for the two large sea horses

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Solenostomus cyanopterus Bleeker , 1854

Image of Solenostomus cyanopterus (Ghost pipefish)

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Ghost Pipefish

Ghost pipefish.jpg.

ghost pipefish diet

A pair of Ghost Pipefish. Photo Credit: Steve Childs/ Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic

The ghost pipefish is a master of camouflage. One species looks like blades of seagrass, while another looks like fronds of kelp. And one species piles on several disguises. In fact, the ability to blend in -- to appear and disappear -- earned the ghost pipefish the “ghost” part of the name.

The ghost pipefish is found in warm, shallow waters from the eastern coast of Africa, across the Indian Ocean, to Australia and Southeast Asia. It inhabits everything from coral reefs to seagrass beds. It grows up to a few inches long, with females larger than males.

The ghost pipefish isn’t a true pipefish, although the two are related. Another cousin is the seahorse, which the ghost pipefish resembles. It has a longer snout, though, which is used to vacuum up tiny shrimp and other tasty morsels. Another difference is that while the male seahorse incubates the eggs, the female ghost pipefish does the job. She folds together a couple of fins to make a secure pouch.

The ghost pipefish floats near the sea floor -- usually head down, which helps disguise it from predators that are swimming above it. The ornate species is especially good at disguises. Small appendages that look like spikes grow from its body and fins. That makes the long, slender critter look like a thorny stick. And it can change the mottled colors on its body to blend into the background. That scheme is so effective that divers have a hard time finding it. So actually seeing one is a rare treat on the ocean floor.

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ghost pipefish diet

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Robust Ghost Pipefish – Facts and Photographs

robust ghost pipefish (Solenostomus cyanopterus)

T he Robust Ghost pipefish (Solenostomus cyanopterus) is also known as the Ghost pipefish and the Racek’s Ghost pipefish.  Although they are called pipefish, they are not true Pipefish.  They fall  in the same order Sygnathiformes as Pipefish and Seahorses, however they are in the family Solenostomidae and true Pipefish fall in the order Sygnathidae.

One of  the main differences between the two is that with true Pipefish and Seahorses, the male has evolved a pouch to carry the eggs whereas with the Ghost Pipefish the female carries the eggs. They obtain their name of Ghost from the difficulty in seeing them when they are floating around, as they closely resemble pieces of seaweed.

The Robust Ghost pipefish has a long laterally compressed angular body comprised of a series of armored plates. The head is angled downwards but not as much as on a Seahorse. There is a small flap of skin just below the mouth which is presumably a sensory organ. On the females which are usually larger, the pelvic fins are large and are fused onto the body at the top and the bottom is also fused. This forms a pouch in which the eggs are brooded.

The colours in Tanzania vary between a bright green with black or white spots or both and a dark brown with purple spots and markings. These are the colours of the pieces of weed that one commonly sees floating while diving. In Tanzanian waters they grow up to a maximum of 17 cm.

robust ghost pipefish (Solenostomus cyanopterus)

ROBUST GHOST PIPEFISH IN THE WILD

The adult Robust Ghost Pipefish are usually seen on sandy areas and rubble between and alongside the reef. They are usually in pairs and synchronize their movements together mimicking pieces of floating seaweed.  They seem to have a preference for some areas and one will often see them close to the wreck of the Slemmestad off of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania. There are strong surges in this area and lots of floating seaweed.

They are usually found in areas where there are floating pieces of seaweed and can be difficult to pick out. Keep your eyes open for pieces of seaweed floating that move more than the other pieces floating around. Once one has seen a few it becomes easier to spot them, but equally I am pretty sure I miss quite a few.  They are usually in pairs and they often coordinate their movements together making for a fascinating sight to see as they dance their way across the bottom.

The juveniles usually stick close to cover on mixed reef rubble areas and perform their dance individually. Because they are seldom still and are usually writhing their bodies, they are extremely difficult to photograph well.  If you do see one, take lots of images in the hope that a few will be in focus.

robust ghost pipefish (Solenostomus cyanopterus)

The Robust Ghost Pipefish is found across the Indo West Pacific area from South Africa, north to the Red Sea  and across to Southern Japan and South to Australia.  They are found on sandy and rubble areas as well as coral reefs from a depth of 4 to 8 meters. In Tanzanian waters we have only seen one deeper than 8 meters and that was at 10 meters on a high tide.

 (Solenostomus cyanopterus) 3

The Robust Ghost Pipefish are ambush predators and feed on small benthic and pelagic crustaceans.

REPRODUCTION

After an elaborate courtship dance the male fertilizes the eggs which are in the the specialized brood pouch on the underside of the female. The eggs are then nurtured by the female and this process is thought to take 14 to 17 days. Once the eggs have developed they hatch and are ejected out of the brood pouch.

 (Solenostomus cyanopterus) 2

All pipefish are difficult to keep in the sense that they require live food, the Robust Ghost Pipefish is not commonly kept in aquariums because of the difficulty in feeding them.

 (Solenostomus cyanopterus) 1

ROBUST GHOST PIPEFISH CLASSIFICATION

Kingdom:Animalia Phylum: Chordata Class: Actinopterygii Order: Syngnathiformes Family: Solenostomidae Genus: Solenostomus Species:S. cyanopterus

LITERATURE CITED

  • The Reef Guide fishes, corals, nudibranchs & other invertebrates: East and South Coasts of Southern Africa by Dennis King & Valda Fraser
  • https://fusedjaw.com/aquariumcare/pipefish-reef-aquarium/

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Ghost pipefish Solenostomus cyanopterus

  • Ghost pipefish

Description

Solenostomus cyanopterus is from the family of Syngnathidae (Seahorses, Pipefishes). Common names include Robust Ghost Pipefish, Blue-finned Ghost Pipefish, Ghost Pipefish, Racek's Ghost Pipefish, Rough-snout Ghost Pipefish, and Squaretail Ghost Pipefish. This is a well camouflaged fish and its overall body colour varies from brown to yellow to pink with small black and white spots all over. Individuals living in seagrass beds tend to be green in colour. Two elongate black spots are present between the first three dorsal spines. The caudal fin can be truncate, rounded or lanceolate. It has a long, tubular mouth and snout and a short caudal peduncle [1] . It has a total of 5 dorsal spines; 17 to 22 dorsal soft rays; 0 anal spines; 17 to 22 anal soft rays and 32 to 33 vertebrae. It can reach a maximum length of 17cm. Males and females can be distinguished by the pelvic fin, which is modified to form a brood pouch for the females [2] .

[1] ‘Solenostomus Cyanopterus’.

[2] ‘Solenostomus Cyanopterus, Ghost Pipefish : Aquarium’.

Habitat and ecology

The Ghost Pipefish is present across the Indo-Pacific regions. The Ghost Pipefish can be found in protected coastal and lagoon reefs, in deep coastal reefs and seagrass meadows. Recorded depth range is between 0 and 28m. Its diet consists of small crustaceans such as the mysid shrimp. It is an ambush predator and uses camouflage to hunt and floats with its head facing down, mimicking vegetation. Females carry eggs in their brood pouch.

Conservation and management

According to the IUCN Red List, this species is categorized as ‘Least Concern’. It can be found in  various  habitats. Population trend, however, is unknown [1] . There are no conservation measures in place for this species, but it is present in MPAs across its distribution.

[1] ‘Solenostomus Cyanopterus (Robust Ghost Pipefish)’.

Did you know?

This species is monogamous.

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Ghost Pipefish - Solenostomidae

With their incredible ability to mimic their surroundings and their tiny size, it is not surprising that these spectacular critters are seldom spotted by divers., usually they are seen hovering next to their matching host, perfectly camouflaged. their bodies are small and compressed, with large, often ornate fins. they can take on a wide variety of colours including red, white and yellow, depending on their surroundings., ghost pipefish are also characterised by their hard body plates and tubular snouts, similar to the closely related seahorses..

Ghost pipefish identification

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Family variety

Reproduction.

Global. Widespread throughout region, but hard to spot.

Depending on the species, Ghost Pipefish mimic and live alongside a variety of hosts including: crinoids, soft corals, sea grass, hydroids and algae.

Most at threat from the aquarium trade and loss of habitat due to the overall decline of the world's reefs.

Identification tips

Dorsal, ventral and caudal fins are large and often elaborate, helping to provide camouflage.

Small anal and pectoral fins.

Long tube like snout used for sucking in small planktonic prey.

Body encased in bony plates. Colouration can vary greatly depending on their surroundings.

Females form a ventral pouch by hooking together their fins and use it to brood their eggs.

Entire body decorated with patterns, cirri or skin flaps to mimic their hosts.

Popular species

Ghost pipefish are a magical find for the eagle-eyed diver. here are some of the species to look out for., ornate ghost pipefish, (solenostomus paradoxus).

Ornate Ghostpipefish

These much photographed, beautiful fish shelter near overhangs and crevices, mimicking crinoids or soft corals. They can sometimes be spotted hanging in the current to feed. They come in a wide variety of colours including, black, white, red, yellow, brown and green.

Robust Ghost Pipefish

(solenostomus cyanopterus).

Robust Ghostpipefish

Often seen floating upside down on a sand or rubble bottom mimicking sea grass or weeds. They are usually brown, green or dark red, with darker spots and markings.

Velvet Ghost Pipefish

(solenostomus sp).

Velvet Ghostpipefish

A newly identified species which may turn out to be a sub species of the Robust Ghost Pipefish. Members thought to be of this species are red or brown and small compared to Robust Ghost Pipefish, with less elaborate fins.

Negros & Dumaguete

Dauin offers superb scuba diving

Negros Island is a large island in the Visayas. It’s eastern shore is separated from Cebu by a narrow channel, while it’s west coast faces the Sulu Sea. Much of the diving is in the south of the island.

Like many of the philippines dive spots, it is blessed with the combination of big fish encounters and fascinating smaller critters that will keep avid divers happy for many dives..

  • Read more about Negros & Dumaguete

Southern Andaman

Ko Lanta diving

Thailand's southern Andaman sea boasts numerous beautiful islands & beaches, plus some great diving opportunities.

The southern andaman region of thailand is less developed than further north, offering a refreshingly relaxing alternative to the hustle & bustle of phuket & even ko phi phi..

  • Read more about Southern Andaman

Lankayan is a popular diving destination for underwater photography

The picturesque island of Lankayan is now regarded as one of Malaysia’s finest dive destinations.

The island, which is just off east the coast of borneo in the sulu sea, has only one resort, ensuring uncrowded dive sites and plenty of relaxation..

  • Read more about Lankayan

Other fascinating species...

Butterflyfish - chaetodontidae.

Butterflyfish identification

Some of the most colourful and graceful of all tropical fishes, the Butterflyfish family encompasses some of the reefs most famous inhabitants. 

  • Read more about Butterflyfish - Chaetodontidae

Batfish - Ephippidae

Batfish identification

Batfish are a small family of seven genera the only one found in shallow water is Platax, five species of large round silvery fish.

  • Read more about Batfish - Ephippidae
  • Read more about Ghost Pipefish - Solenostomidae

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The Robust Ghost Pipefish

The Robust Ghost Pipefish

(Solenostomus cyanopterus) is a small and unusual fish species that belongs to the family Syngnathidae, which includes seahorses and pipefish. They are native to the Indo-Pacific region, including the Red Sea, and are commonly found in coral reefs and seagrass meadows.

The Robust Ghost Pipefish has a long, slender body with a flattened appearance and a small head with a tubular snout. They have a pair of fins located near their head that resembles small, delicate wings. Their body is covered in bony plates and small spines, which helps to protect them from predators. The coloration of the Robust Ghost Pipefish varies, but they are typically brown or grey with various patterns, such as stripes or spots.

The Robust Ghost Pipefish is a solitary fish that can be found hiding amongst seagrass or coral branches. They are masters of disguise and have the ability to change their coloration to match their surroundings, making them nearly invisible to predators. They are also known for their unique hunting behavior, where they use their snouts to probe small crevices and cracks in search of small crustaceans and other prey.

In terms of size, the Robust Ghost Pipefish is relatively small and typically grows up to about 6 inches in length. They have a lifespan of around 3-4 years in the wild.

The social behavior and fashion of the Robust Ghost Pipefish are not well understood, as they are solitary creatures and do not form schools or groups. They are typically found in pairs during the breeding season, where the male will carry the eggs in a specialized pouch until they hatch.

The Robust Ghost Pipefish is a popular fish in the aquarium trade due to its unique appearance and behavior. However, they are difficult to care for and require a specialized diet, environment, and care to thrive in captivity. Therefore, it is important to research and understand the specific requirements of this species before considering keeping them in an aquarium.

Overall , the Robust Ghost Pipefish is a fascinating and elusive fish species that is well-adapted to life in coral reefs and seagrass meadows. Its unique appearance and behavior make it a popular subject for underwater photography and observation, and its ability to blend in with its surroundings is a testament to its mastery of camouflage.

ghost pipefish diet

PIPEFISH: THE ULTIMATE CARE, DIET, HABITAT AND SPECIES GUIDE

Is the pipefish right for you.

Table of Contents

This is a common question I get and I hope this article will answer that question and any others you may have.

Pipefish are part of the small family of fish, the Syngnathus class or genus, that are called Syngnathidae. The family is comprised of Pipefishes or pipe-fishes (Syngnathinae) and Seahorses and Seadragons (Phycodurus and Phyllopteryx).

Pipefish look very much like seahorses, but with a straight body and a tiny mouth. Their body is long and thin, kind of snake-like.

Pipefish: The Ultimate Care, Diet, Habitat and Species Guide

Pipefish, Seahorses, and Seadragons are members of the Syngnathidae family of fish. The name Syngnathidae comes from the Greek, “syn” meaning “together”, and “gnathos” meaning “jaw”. The fused jaw trait is something the entire family has in common.

The long body and small mouth allow the pipefish to hunt for food in rocks and coral where they can poke around the cracks and crevasse.

The pipefish are not good swimmers since their only source of power is a small dorsal fin which they move very rapidly. These fish prefer to take advantage of gentle currents that they float in. Most Pipefish have some form of a caudal fin and/or tail fin, unlike seahorses, which can be used for power.

PIPEFISH CARE OVERVIEW

Most Pipefish are saltwater fish; there are a few freshwater species but they are the exception.

They are found on the coasts of tropical and temperate zones. Most species of Pipefish are usually 6-8 inches in body length, but some species have a body size as long as 26 inches. Pipefish usually live in sheltered areas of coral reefs or seagrass beds.

Some Pipefish can even change color.

Pipefish have a short digestive tract so they are unable to absorb many nutrients through food. They can be enriched, but the Pipefish should not be used as a staple food.

If you put a pair in your tank they will produce small larval shrimp relatively quickly, as they generally are eager to mate.

Pipefish are thin slender fish that can camouflage themselves by blending in very well with the surrounding seagrasses and weeds among which it lives.

Often they will take a vertical position and sway back and forth among the grasses.

pipefish-standing

Pipefish have a similarly shaped head and snout as the seahorse. Their mouths are small, narrow and toothless and create a vacuum to feed on tiny crustaceans.

Their bodies look quite different from that of the seahorse.

ghost pipefish diet

There are over 200 species of pipefish. Here are some of the more popular species found in United States waters:

  • Common Pipefish (Northern Pipefish) can be found in the Chesapeake Bay area
  • Chain Pipefish
  • Dusky Pipefish can be found in the Chesapeake Bay area
  • Bay Pipefish

Pipefish are poor swimmers, and they move around slowly as they only have a tiny dorsal fin for power. Usually, they use gentle currents to get around, and they require frequent rest.

Fish Keepers who keep pipefish in their aquariums usually choose brightly colored fish in shades of purple, orange, red, green, black, and brown. There are even some pipefish that can change color to adapt to their surroundings.

Some Pipefish are Striped Pipefish coming in yellow, blue, orange, black, and red colors. These fish can be found in the eastern Atlantic from the southern Gulf of Biscay to Gibraltar, also in the Mediterranean and Black Seas.

pipefish-colorful

PIPEFISH HABITAT

Most Pipefish are found living in tropical and subtropical saltwater.

There are a few species that can survive in freshwater also, but this is rare and most prefer saltwater or brackish water.

Pipefish live in seagrass beds, among Sargassum, among reefs, estuaries, and rivers. They prefer shallow waters up to 1000 feet deep.

They may move to deeper waters in the winter.

Pipefish are relatively hardy and adjust well to aquarium life if maintained in water conditions with low current and plenty of branching gorgonians, a type of soft coral, algae, or coral decorations.

Because Pipefish have a hard time competing for food, they are best kept in a tank containing only Seahorses and Pipefish.

pipefish-3

TANK REQUIREMENTS

The ideal setup for Pipefish is a saltwater tank with plenty of rocks, grass, and coral to hide in.

You’ll also want to include plenty of caves and overhangs to provide shelter, with lots of colors to help create the natural environment of the fish.

Pipefish do best when kept in pairs or groups and the tank should be a species only tank or shared only with their relative – the seahorse.

Pipefish normally come from tropical waters so the water should be kept between 72 degrees – 77 degrees.

A pH balance of between 8.1 and 8.4, with a carbonate hardness (dKH) of 8-12 and a specific gravity of 1.020-1.025 should be maintained in the water.

Pure water has a pH level of about 7, so Pipefish will require alkaline water to maintain the proper balance.

Pipefish are hunters for food, visual eaters, so they need good lighting in the tank to find food.

To maintain a healthy tank, once your tank is set up and your fish are happy follow these steps.

NOTE: The smaller the tank the more important water changes are as well as good filters, smaller tanks are more labor-intensive.

  • Tanks gallons up to 40: Change 5% of the water weekly.
  • Tanks gallons 40-90: Change 15% of the water bi-weekly
  • Tanks gallons 100+: Change water 10% bi-weekly to 20% monthly once the water is stable and aged.

PIPEFISH BEHAVIOR

PIPEFISH BEHAVIOR

Pipefish have varied personalities, behavioral traits, and can be very entertaining.

Depending on how your aquarium is set up as far as the aqua-scaping goes, your Pipefish will display a variety of different behaviors.

If you have any vertical plants in your aquarium your Pipefish may be trying to blend into the environment and you will see them in a more vertical position with their head down, trying to creep up on their prey.

Sometimes crawling along the bottom of the tank like a snake hunting pods.

You might catch them darting about horizontally like miniature torpedoes grabbing prey from the water column with lightning speed.

This behavior makes Pipefish very entertaining to watch, particularly when you have a pair.

PIPEFISH CARE

Beginning Fish Keepers beware.

While Pipefish are unique and entertaining fish, they may be difficult to keep healthy in an aquarium.

Most Pipefish are still caught in the wild. Some hobby Fish Keepers are having success in the retail market and tank bred fish seem to be hardier and more easily adaptable compared to the wild-caught fish.

Wild-caught Pipefish can be hard to care for in an aquarium and have a difficult time adapting from eating live food to a frozen diet. Many breeders say that they can be weaned onto a frozen food diet, but there are also a lot of failures, which is a good reason to use caution before buying one of these species.

An individual fish could be malnourished, and it would be difficult to notice until the problem is completely out of control.

This is why it is important to properly feed your fish and be vigilant about their eating habits to ensure they are getting enough nutrition.

Brine shrimp are an easy-to-make live food source for these saltwater fish.

Even with their reputation for being difficult to raise there are many reasons to want to breed them.

  • They come in a variety of colors and their unusual mouths and stick-like look are just an interesting visual element to add to your tank.
  • They also tend to be pretty active, drifting along in the gentle current in the tank or hanging around upside down in caves and vegetation.

All very entertaining.

Their need for regular feedings and delicate immune systems make them at risk of both undernourishment and bacterial infections increased by the stress of capture and transport.

Pipefish have a hard time competing for food which leaves them best kept in a tank containing only Seahorses and other Pipefish.

Their diet of live foods such as vitamin-enriched brine shrimp, small Ghost Shrimp, or Copepods and Amphipods found in live rock is usually preferred but requires constant attention.

Pipefish-face

PIPEFISH DIET

One problem when raising your Pipefish is a large amount of space required to be able to supply enough natural food to keep your pipefish fed.

Unfortunately, this can easily lead to starvation of the pipefish which can go unnoticed until too late.

Some Fish Keepers use frozen food, as well as try enriching the food to provide enough needed nutrients.

Some Pipefish do not recognize frozen food as a food source no matter how it is introduced to them. In this case, try feeding them the smallest sized food product available because of their small mouths.

Perhaps try feeding the fish frozen Mysis and frozen Cyclopoid because of the small size.

If you have wild Pipefish you may find they just will not eat frozen food no matter what you do.

The food of choice for Pipefish are baby Brine Shrimps, Amphipods, Brine Shrimps, Copepods, Ghost Shrimps, Isopods and, Red Shrimps.

Create a feeding schedule for your Pipefish that has them being fed three times daily with small amounts of food. Do not overfeed your fish because the un-eaten food will make your tank dirty very quickly.

PIPEFISH SPECIES

Two of the most common species of Pipefish in the aquarium hobby market are the Dragonface and Flagtail Pipefish. The two types come in many species and there is some difference in care for these fish which should be noted.

Dragonfaced Pipefish prefer freshly hatched Brine Shrimp and Flagtails will be happier with adults.

Flagtail Pipefish-1

FLAGTAIL PIPEFISH

Flagtail Pipefish have a more developed caudal fin, which is where they derive their name.

This fin aids them to be a strong swimmer.

These Pipefish were bred to be very colorful and are popular among the marine aquarium fish keeper market. During their courting period, Flagtails will flash their distinctly colored tails.

These adult fish are highly territorial and usually live in pairs and often can be trained to eat frozen food.

These fish are not recommended for beginning Fish Keepers due to the special care that is required.

Dragonface Pipefish

DRAGONFACE PIPEFISH

The Dragonface Pipefish is also referred to as the Messmate Pipefish, Reeftop Pipefish, Banded Messmate Pipefish, Network Pipefish.

These fish have a long thin body with a small tube-like mouth and a small pink tail. Dragonface can tether themselves to rocks and corals by the tail.

It is less likely the Dragonface will learn to eat frozen food so the Keeper will have to commit to a full diet of live food.

The Dragonface can be kept in pairs and groups fairly easily as long as there is plenty of food for them all.

The Dragonface Pipefish is considered the hardiest Pipefish but still is recommended for only expert Fish Keepers because of its difficult and rigorous feeding requirements.

PIPEFISH COMPATIBILITY

Pipefish are slow swimmers often just moving with the gentle current. For this reason, these fish should be kept in a tank with only other Pipefish or Sea Horses. These fish will have a hard time competing with more aggressive or territorial fish for food.

These fish can be kept with other fish but it is not recommended unless you are an experienced Fish Keep who can and wants to monitor the interaction between fish.

Pipefish should not be kept with Maroon Clowns, Pufferfish, Clams, or Anemones, with whom they can get stung and die. They can be tanked Dragonets, Invertebrates, Dartfish, Gobies, or Jawfish.

Some experienced Fish Keepers will keep Pipefish in groups, but should only be done if you have a large enough tank. As a guide allows for 20 gallons of water per fish.

These fish do well in established reef tanks. It can be quite a site keeping Pipefish in groups and seeing them connect to each other’s tails forming a long chain.

Dragonface Pipefish are larger and of all species tend to be easier to get along with. These fish can be kept in groups or pairs as long as there is enough food to support them.

Pair-of-pipefishes

PIPEFISH BREEDING

The male Pipefish is the fish that carries the young and depending on the species they carry them in a spongy area on the tail or in a brood pouch.

To mate, the two fish will go through a mating ritual and then start moving in the same direction at the same speed when the female will deposit her eggs on the tail or in the brood pouch.

Pipefish in the Syngnathus class or genus have a brood pouch with a ventral seam that can completely cover all of their eggs when sealed.

The female will do this mating ritual with several males to improve the chances of success of having offspring.

It is the male Pipefish who makes the mate choice. In studies, the male will choose the larger female as a mate and in mate choice experiments with equal-sized females, males chose females with more extensive sexual coloring.

The gestation period of the Pipefish varies depending on the number of eggs present and the subspecies.

The male carries the eggs, often in the brood pouch, until they hatch and then they are left on their own. Often these young pipefish become the food of their parents or the food of their predators. The survival rate is about 1% living to adulthood.

It seems dads don’t stop at mate choice: Even after females have passed their eggs to males, fathers can have favorite children.

With some Pipefish, it is easy to tell the sexes apart and some can be nearly impossible. Because their sex details are on their bellies, which can be difficult to see, it may become necessary to move the fish into small specimen tanks to get a look at their underside or take a picture.

It is important to know the sex of your Pipefish, especially the Fantail Pipefish for tank compatibility, so it is suggested to check before you leave the fish store.

IS THE PIPEFISH RIGHT FOR YOU?

After researching Pipefish you probably have a good idea if they are the ideal fish for you, but let us do a quick recap.

Is your tank large enough? You should have at least a 30-gallon tank per fish.

What type of food do you plan on feeding your Pipefish? Is the tank large enough to sustain a food supply or will you use live or frozen food?

Is your tank specific to Pipefish? Is your tank a reef tank?

Can you choose healthy Pipefish?

These fish can be a unique addition to anybody’s saltwater aquarium, they can be fun and entertaining to watch.

With some love and attention, these fish can become your companions for many years.

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Pipefish: A Species, Diet, Habitat and Care Guide

pipefish species guide

Last Updated on February 26, 2023 by Jakob

Pipefish come from the same family as another lovable creature, the common seahorse, and they make up the scientific family Syngathidae. Seadragons are also on the list of Syngathidae’s that are well known. Pipefish are a beautiful species, that are often described as a straightened out seahorse. Their distinctive long snout and tiny mouth makes them immediately identifiable.

For the saltwater aquarium enthusiast, Pipefish are well suited to experience fish keepers who want to impress with this marvelous species. Pipefish no doubt are a wonderful addition to any saltwater tank with the filtration and size to suit them. Their natural habitat of seagrass bedding can sometimes make them difficult to keep in community tanks.

pipefish guide

IN THIS ARTICLE

The Pipefish Introduction | A Syngnathidae

pipefish species guide

As we now know, Pipefish belong to the same family as seahorses, and their long slender snake like bodies had scientists previously reticent to label them in the family due to in part of their axial skeleton , which is more common with the morphology of regular saltwater fish. Extensive DNA testing revealed their direct correlation to the Syngathidae. They share many similarities to the sea horse, and for more information on the seahorse in an aquarium setting read our full guide to the seahorse.

For such a beautiful species, they are affordable to saltwater aquarists, costing approximately $20 USD per Pipefish. With that in mind, it’s easy to see why the Pipefish are popular compared to the much more expensive Seahorse cousin.

For the science buffs and biologists out there, remember that the pipefish is still a fish, and it’s spine and bones make it a part of the ray finned fish, or Actinopterygii {latin name}.

Appearance of the Pipefish

The distinctive look of the Pipefish always attract the gaze of passers by, almost eel like in their appearance, Pipefish has a similar shaped head and nose to the common seahorse. The long snout has its advantages too, able to suck in food in a biological vacuum (such as crustaceans ) via the narrow toothless channel. It really is impressive!

The long slender body of the pipefish is ultimately what differentiates this sub-species from a seahorse. The straighter bodies make them more adaptive to hiding in their habitat, and they camouflage completely into the weeds and rocks of their environment. Given they are not swimming ‘straight up’ they are more athletic and nimble than the seahorse.

However, it’s a mistake to assume their strong swimmers, preferring calmer waters. While they may be used to getting through around in the ocean, it you have a powerful wave maker, or filtration system above water, be prepared to be distressed seeing them knocked about. They do move slowly, and using their small dorsal fin they would prefer to stick to slower currents if giving the choice; do not force them into choppy waters.

There are a few species of Pipefish that have what is known as a grasping tail (or prehensile) that is used to hold onto things in harsher currents, but many not not possess this. Of the 200 plus species that exist, only a few of them are lucky enough to have one.

Colors of Pipefish

The pipefish comes in several different colors. Ranging from red to blue, yellow, brown & even black Pipefish have been spotted.

Some have seen the pipefish change color to match its surroundings. This is primarily a defense mechanism.

Pipefish Habitat Overview

pipefish habitat explanation

The vast majority of pipefish are native to subtropical salt water. There are some species that can be found living in tropical freshwaters, although these are usually closer to oceans and so remains a small % of salt, we might normally refer to this as brackish waters.

In their native wild habitat, Pipefish are found nestling in lagoons and the seagrass close by to coral reefs. The seagrass provides shelter and both camouflages the fish. Here they can stay safe and hunt for food and prey.

Some are found in open oceans however. It’s been known to see some types of pipefish at sea-depths of up to about 1,300 feet (400m). Additionally, some pipefishes live in close promixmity to other species of marine life; for example, the blue-striped pipefish (or Doryrhamphus excisus ), is the one we’ve all seen in the wildlife documentaries swimming close to others and picking parasites off the backs of larger fish.

Threats to the Pipefish Habitat

Pipefish aren’t good swimmers. We know that to be a fact. They keep to calm shallow waters, and are easily disturbed by both currents and external impact (humans). They prefer warm, shallow calm water, often clear water due to the tropical nature of the sea temperature . But humans are also attracted to such locations, and stomping all over the delicate sea-grass is a direct threat.

The decrease in sea grass and eel grass, is of serious consequences. Along with boat damage, a declining coral reef structure and human runoff, pipefish habitat is under threat.

They are less available to easier adapt because there are very few places and there is limited environments on earth in which they thrive.

It’s for that reason that if you do buy Pipefish for aquarium purposes, you don’t keep wild caught and only use pipefish from a known petstore or breeder that breeds them in captivity.

Another thing that affects population is its use in Chinese medicine. However, this certainly doesn’t constitute a large market, and the Chinese are often respectful with regard to their use of alternative medicine (which works by the way).

Pipefish Aquarium/Fish Tank Requirements

Setting up the aquarium environment for pipefish is not always as easy as it seems.

Setting up a pipefish fish tank or a tank for seahorses is going to be challenging. You’ll need to devise a saltwater environment that contains copious amounts of seagrasses and bed rock.

Here’s a simple checklist below:

tank aquarium requirements pipefish

Don’t forget, pipefish are social creatures and must be kept in groups of 6 or more others. They do not want to be kept in large community coral tanks. You’ll need a great canister filtration system , and the best protein skimmer around to do the job for these guys.

The aquarium will need to be a minimum of 50 gallons, preferably larger; remember this is an open water ocean creature. As mentioned above, it may be kept with the following other species:

  • Small Gobies
  • Or, only other pipefish

Fast moving, and overly large or aggressive fish are generally not tolerated. Additionally, this fish has no immunity to stinging anemones or corals with stinging barbs of tentacles. They are also sometimes aggravated by crabs and large shrimp, however, in a large enough tank size this should not be an issue. Just remember even 50 gallons is small when you confine creatures to the same 50 gallon space.

I would include a nice set of LEDs in the tank, to provide the vibrant natural color found in the shallow reefs in which they normally inhabit. Adding rocks and seagrass not only replicates habitat and natural behavior, but also provides shade. Pipefish are daytime hunters, meaning that require visual light in order to find food and eat properly.

Water Hardness, pH and temperature

The fish originate in lush tropical waters, and so your tank should be set to between 72 and 77 degrees Fahrenheit, for their ideal health. Ensure a good quality aquarium heater and thermometer to ensure this range. pH balance is another important factor for these guys, and so the pH for pipefish should be between 8.1 and 8.4. Remember, regular pure water has a middle pH of 7, so Pipefish prefer mildly alkaline water.

Carbonate hardness (dKH) for the pipefish should be of 8-12 range and remember to keep the specific gravity of 1.020-1.025. If you have any questions on how to achieve this, let us know in the comments and we will absolutely help you!

Pipefish Behavior

Pipefish are docile, peace loving creatures. In the wild, they are found in groups; rarely alone. They are found relaxing in the warm waters of the seagrass beds, and sometimes align vertically with the grass to mimic their surroundings.

In general the study of their behavior has not lead to any new discoveries about the species, they are easily understood. Their hunt for food is obvious, as they scurry over the sea floor like a snake on land.

In the tank environment pipefish display less of this kind of behavior, typically because all fish are different when a food source is not as natural as in the wild.

To encourage their natural habitat, you can plant long vertical plants in your tank, and this combined with the essential seagrass will make them feel right at home and encourage the kind of instinctive behavior we see in the wild.

They transition very quickly from their vertical resting position and can suddenly bolt sideways to catch prey. 

If we’re being honest, Pipefish are indeed not an easy species to look after, and that is of extra importance for the beginner. This is not a beginner fish. However, don’t let that get you down, with the right equipment and time to learn, they can successfully be kept.

There are also other questions that arise here, there are many species of pipefish that we’ll cover later on, some of which are more suitable that others to keep in an aquarium environment.

Often, this fish will not do well when captured from the ocean. We do not advise this, nor encourage this activity.

When buying this species from a regulated store or dealer, you need to keep an eye out for a few crucial things:

  • No bacterial infections, this can present as rarer fish diseases to more common white spot.
  • Cloudy eyes or rotted fins.
  • Slow, sluggish movements.

The Pipefish Diet

copepods pipefish food

The pipefish diet is quite diverse for a creature that sticks to very specific oceanic regions. However, they are not feisty or aggressive fish, and so will not engage in competing for food, this is a reason why it’s so important to keep them in line with our pipefish tank-mate guidelines.

In the wild, as a carnivorous species, the fish has developed a special long snout, that is used primarily to suck in their food and prey. This is mostly plankton, crustaceans, and also includes small live foods. Small live foods can be anything from small shrimp, and copepods to the amphipods.

The fish found more upstream, in brackish water, will eat other insects found close to the waters edge, often worms, flies and small insects.

Scientists have studied the feeding behavior of pipe fish and their ability to eat food sources in both brackish, fresh and saltwater makes them an interesting addition in an artificial environment.

For introduction into an artificial tank, please establish it well, including the abundance of natural live rock & seagrasses.

Like all fishkeeping rules, they should be fed a variety of foods. It’s much harder to replicate the extreme diversity and opportunist nature of the fish in captivity, so if you can, stick to a variety of live foods for a well rounded diet. Do not use freshwater live food, and they lack the fatty acids and oils present in marine live food.

What to feed your Pipe fish:

Below is a list of what you can safely feed, and where to buy it.

TLDR: The pipefish prefers to primarily eat only live copepods . These are best fed in a reef aquarium that has matured with enough time to develop macro-algae, and live rock has also matured. The fish will also hunt the red bug copepod found on invested coral.

There is no perfect diet, however, in our opinion; the best thing  to begin feeding the pipe fish are live Copepods and live baby brine shrimp, fully grown brine shrimp may be too large for some species.

Baby brine shrimp should NOT make up the majority of the diet for this fish. Over some period, you can begin to use frozen foods and they may tolerate it, like frozen CYCLOP-EEZE, Nutramar-Ova or small live Mysis.

It isn’t easy to figure out, pick 3 from the list below and watch and observe the behavior closely. Find what your species prefers the most, and go from there.

If you get a tank that’s the minimum size of 50 gallons, you will likely have to feed the fish more often than a larger tank that can cultivate its own food source to some extent, all fish regardless of species take nutrients and micro-nutrients and minerals from their surroundings.

Combining frozen, live, dried and more types of foods together, you can enrich the availability and prevent your pipefish from getting malnourished.

However, there are reports that some of these species refuse to take frozen food, so please test prior to assuming this will be the correct diet of choice.

Another note; live food doesn’t come cheap, and pipefish can live an average of 7 years in captivity, don’t go into this with half a wallet!

Author’s Feeding Tips: Feeding this species is only require once per day, if you have a community tank with seahorses and gobies, then you might find twice a day is needed. Some people suggest 3 times per day and you’re going to end up with a dirty tank. This is written by uneducated, untrained writers. Remember, we’re creating a live rock, seagrass environment here. We want to supplement the fishes natural ability to forage.

Pipefish Species – A brief Overview

Today, aquarist’s most popular species are the dragon face, the banded pipefish, and the flagtail.

Scientifically, we can divide the Flagtail into two sub-species {Dunckerocampus} and {Doryrhamphus}; both vibrant species.

In our study of the pipefish, see our research , we have noted that the smaller species tend to be of a more aggressive nature.

Flagtail pipefish Subspecies Overview

Here’s some of the subspecies of the fish, and their anatomical descriptions.

Dragonface/Messmate Subspecies Overview

The dragonface or Messmate fish technically have been listed in some places as a different subspecies of pipefish. This is a tricky one to answer, they are all part of the Syngathidae family, but are categorized under the sub-family {Corythoichthys} because of their   biofluorescence and regional location. 

The South Pacific region Dragonface has been scientifically classified as Corythoichthys haematopterus , and the Western Pacific region as Corythoichthys intestinalis . The region is pretty much the only difference in classification. To further complicate matters, some scientists argue that a further 12 sub-species exist, again based on regional position of the fish.

The Corythoichthys  subspecies are slightly slower, and poorer species that their biological cousins. Dragonface’s also use their tail to compensate for the poor swimming strength by gripping onto rock and substrate.

The Dragonface Pipefish is among the hardiest pipefish, but we still suggest expert only aquarist due to its unusual feeding requirements. It normally prefers to eat only live copepods in a mature reef aquarium with plenty of live rock or macroalgae. An ideal diet to start this fish on is Nutramar Tigrio Bottled Live Copepods, and vitamin-enriched live baby brine shrimp. However, live baby brine should not make up the majority of its diet. Over time, the Dragonface Pipefish may become accustomed to eating frozen Cyclops, small Mysis, and Nutramar Ova.

Compatibility with Other Fish | Pipefish tank Mates

So you want to keep pipefish with other species?

pipefish tank mates compatibility

We’ve created a list of suitable species that you can include with pipefish:

  • Small Marine Gobies

Pipefish will not react well to fast aggressive fish, like blennies, wrasses, larger gobies (small gobies are ok) or tiger-fish. Exercise common sense.

Additionally, as should be already clear, you can push your like in a community tank but in no situation should they be kept with puffer fish, clown fish or large clams. Remember that in a community tank, fish do compete with each other for food.

Remember, the Pipefish requires a minimum of 50 gallons of water, the more fish you have, the larger the tank needs to be.

Much like their seahorse cousin, the pipefish’s reproductive behavior is unique in the sense that it is not the female, but the male that will carry the fertilized eggs through their development to hatch. The eggs are generally carried in two places depending on the species; it will either be stuck underneath the main body in a spongy area, or held in a special brood pouch.

If you want to encourage breeding of pipefish, we advise you to keep them in a solo tank. No community tank of any kind! If you keep the mating pair well-fed, you will find they will regularly breed.

Different species of the fish may have accentuated versions of the brood pouch, it could be open folds or fully closing enclosures that are a literal cavity in the same way that a seahorse has a brooding cavity.

When these fish mate, a pair of them will progress through stages of breeding, swimming alongside one another quite quickly before the female will deposit her eggs.

A female selects her mate, and then deposits her eggs. However, this isn’t limited to one male; in order to guarantee the birth of offspring and secure a future, the female will do this multiple times with other fish.

As in most circumstances in the harshness of the ocean, offspring pipefish are left to survive on their own, immediately exposed to the elements and needing to look after themselves.  Less than 5% of pipefish will reach adulthood.

Should you keep Pipe fish in your aquarium? 

That really depends. We’ve managed to cover a wide range of topics from their habitat, their endangered status, their anatomy and even how to keep them in a fish tank if you’re so inclined.

If you do choose to keep pipefish in an aquarium setting, keep in mind the following things. Use this as a final checklist to decide if you can:

  • Are you prepared to dedicate your tank for this species only and its select tank-mates?
  • Are you prepared to invest a lot in creating a seagrass bed?
  • Is your tank at least 50 gallons in size?
  • Are you prepared to buy at least 7 pipefish?
  • Are you willing to buy live feed for the duration that you have them?
  • Can you use a filtration system that will not disrupt the calm nature of the fish?

You’ll need to be able to answer those questions honestly. Remember keeping fish can be a dangerous hobby, engage in sustainable fish keeping, buy local and buy farmed (not caught). As marine biologists the last thing we want to do is harm.

Please let us know in the comments how you keep these in your tank, what your experience has been, if you have any advice from others or just want to share what you’ve learned from studying them!

If you already keep pipefish, or are thinking of buying one, we’d love to hear from you below!

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Coral Realm

loved the article about pipefish. one of my favorite creatures.

you’ve probably already gotten this comment, but this is the correct spelling of “reticent.” (as opposed to retesent)

Not trying to be picky but students and other people see it and may then also misspell it.

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Roughsnot Ghost Pipefish

Roughsnot Ghost Pipefish

(Solenostomus paegnius)

Roughsnot Ghost Pipefish :: 25009

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Pipefish – Know How to Take Care of Your New Pet

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Origin & Habitat of Pipefish

Appearance of pipefish, behaviour of pipefish, types of pipefish, lifespan of pipefish, diet of pipefish.

  • Tank Requirements for Pipefish
  • Water Type for Pipefish

Compatibility of Pipefish

Breeding of pipefish, pipefish diseases, difficulties in petting pipefish.

The popularity of unconventional fish for aquariums is on the rise now more than ever. Gone are the days when people used to think only about goldfish or angelfish or catfish for populating their fish tank. Uncommon fish such as the Pipefish are slowly becoming popular with fish pet lovers. But, since these fish are so unfamiliar to us, it is important we get to know their living habits and behavioral pattern.

Key Specifications of Pipefish

Before going into the details, take a look at some of the key specifications of Pipefish that will help you get an overall idea of this species.

Members of the Syngnathidae family, Pipefish are the cousins of Seahorses and Sea-Dragons. They have gained their name from their elongated snout that is shaped just like a pipe. They are a type of saltwater fish. However, a small variant of them is found in freshwater too.

Their weak immune system makes them difficult to pet, but that is not stopping fish enthusiasts from around the world in petting them.  The major reason behind it is them being this exotic, mythical-esque creature. Not only are they beautiful to look at, but their active energy (despite being slow) keeps the scenery inside the aquarium pretty dynamic.

There are over 200 types of Pipefish, but very few of them can be pet in captivity.

Although their exact source of origin is not known, it is generally believed that they originated from the saltwater of tropical, sub-tropical and temperate areas.

They can be found in open oceans at a depth of around 400 meters (approximately 1300 feet). They inhabit seagrass, eelgrass, coral reefs, and lagoons. Known for being an excellent camouflage, they use the grass for hiding from predators as well as sneaking in on their preys.

The body of this fish is similar to that of a seahorse, eel, and a snake. Their snout-shaped mouth is in the shape of a long cylindrical pipe that ends in a small and narrow mouth that is toothless and it opens upwards.

They come with a long thin tail and have an extremely modified skeleton formed into armored plating. Their locomotion is guided by their dorsal fin. Most of the other fins, including the ventral fins, are generally absent. They have small gill openings that are located beside the upper posterior angle of their gill cover. Unlike Sea-horses, they have caudal fins that also assist them in their movement.

Size of Pipefish

They are generally much smaller than the other members of their family, i.e. seahorse and sea-dragons. On average, they grow up to eight 8” (20.32 cm). Although Pipefish as large as 26” in size have been discovered, they are fairly rare. Their straight slender elongated body adds to their elegance.

Color of Pipefish

Pipefish come in a variety of colors, the most common of which are red, blue, black, brown and yellow. However, those who pet them in their aquarium generally scout for rarer colored Pipefish, such as purple and orange.

Some varieties of Pipefish are even known to change their colors in order to adapt to their surroundings.

One of the best features of Pipefish , as we mentioned earlier, is that they are pretty active and there is hardly ever a dull moment with them. They can always be seen drifting along the current in your fish tank or hanging upside down or moving horizontally in and around the vegetation and caves of the tank.

They are also known for their stealth. It is not uncommon to see them slithering through the seagrass in a calm unnoticeable manner. This helps them stay off-the-radar from their predators. Catching food also becomes easier for them because of their unassuming nature.

Although generally slow in speed, they can bullet through, if needed, at times of emergency or when in search of food in extreme conditions.

If pipefish are kept with long vertical plants in an aquarium, they mimic them by adopting a vertical position with their heads down. This is their way of catching prey in the wild.

Amongst the 200 types of Pipefish, the most common types are as follows:

Banded Pipefish

This type of Pipefish loves to live in pairs; however, they are pretty weak and don’t do well in captivity. They require constant attention. They are also the most common form of Pipefish.

Bluestripe Pipefish

They are generally different from other types of Pipefish because they exhibit traits of aggressiveness that is not usually seen in a Pipefish. They are also comparatively smaller in size, growing to a length of 3”. But that is what makes them more active and faster than other Pipefish.

Dragonface Pipefish

The Dragonface Pipefish refuse to eat frozen food, which makes them difficult to pet. They love to live in groups and when they see themselves drifting apart from their buddies, they quickly attach themselves to their partner’s side.

Unlike most small aquarium fish, they have a long lifespan. In the wild, they live up to 10 years. Although they don’t thrive well in a synthetic environment like that of an aquarium; if kept healthy, they can at least live up to five years.

Pipefish are carnivores in nature. In the wild, they feed upon the following:

  • Small Insects
  • Ghost Shrimp
  • Brine Shrimp
  • Small Crabs

It is advised that their diet in an aquarium should also reflect a combination of these foods.

Since they generally are peaceful in nature, they do not like or are even capable of competing with others for their food. Hence, if you keep them with other fish, make sure there is enough food for everyone. Also, they need proper light to find their food.

Due to their short digestive tract, they can’t eat a large portion of food at a time. They generally feed on less quantity of food at frequent intervals.

Although you can feed them frozen food, it is recommended that from time to time, you give them a dose of live food. It also goes without saying that frozen food must be thawed properly before feeding them. You should give them the time to adjust and transition to frozen food. One can’t suddenly adapt to frozen food in a day or two. If you don’t have access to live food daily, keep feeding them frozen food along with live food and gradually shift to frozen food.

Since they are a saltwater species, their bodies are naturally built to sustain on highly unsaturated fatty acids. If you feed them freshwater organisms, they will suffer from a lack of these acids.

They are a fast-eater and are known to feed on their food by sucking food rapidly into their mouth. However, it should be noted that they have a small mouth opening. Therefore, the size of the food, especially the frozen food should be small. You can use a cheese-grater to make the size of your frozen food small.

Frozen Cyclop-eeze and frozen Mysis are safe frozen food options for pipefish.

Tank Requirements of Pipefish

Pipefish are very sensitive in nature and require heavy care. It is very vital to create a natural habitat for your Pipefish. To do so, you need to keep in mind the following pointers.

First and foremost, you need to select an appropriate tank for your new pet. They require a large space to thrive healthily. For each Pipefish, there has to be 30-gallons of water present in the tank. So, as you can imagine, you would need quite a large tank for petting them. The size of the tank subsequently increases with the rise in the numbers of Pipefish.

Nature of Lighting

As we mentioned earlier in the diet section, they need proper lighting to find their food. Therefore, make sure that your tank has artificial lights that will help them find food when the sun is down. But that doesn’t mean that you should keep the lights on 24*7. Period of darkness in a day is also necessary for their healthy growth.

Keeping a lid on your tank is always a good idea when it comes to Pipefish because they crawl their way out of the tank, thereby injuring or endangering their life. If they are not found in the tank all of a sudden, be sure to check the sump and overflow first.

Install a filtration system in your tank that will not only regulate the flow of fresh oxygen but also remove waste products from the tank, keeping it as clean as necessary for the survival of your pet. However, make sure that the current generated by your filter are not too strong as Pipefish are weak swimmers.

Pipefish love to camouflage themselves in the wild. Therefore, keeping artificial and natural ornaments in your tank will help mimic its habitat. Include caves, rocks, artificial or natural grass and lot of plants in your aquarium. Live rocks will not only help in the biological filtration but will also provide them natural food.

Presence of Flora

As we have just mentioned in the above point, they love to camouflage and spend most of their time hiding in the wild in seagrass and eelgrass. Basically, they need good hiding spots. Therefore, adding plants and grass to your tank is a good idea. Natural plants, although may be difficult to maintain, is recommended since Pipefish will feel more at home in their presence.

Water Type of Pipefish

After setting up the tank, your next step should be to check the water type for your new pet. Try to keep the following things in mind when doing the same.

Temperature

Pipefish are tropical species; therefore, they prefer a bit of warm water. Try to maintain a temperature between 72° F (22° C) to 77° F (25° C).

Pipefish need alkaline water to survive. The pH level of the water in the fish tank that houses your Pipefish should be between 8.1 and 8.4.

Mineral Level

The water has to be saltwater as that is its natural habitat. You can buy saltwater from the store and you can also prepare it at home, but the latter requires a lot of precision and effort. The gravity of the water should be between 1.020 and 1.025. It should have low ammonia and nitrates and the level of nitrites should be less than 0.2 ppm.

The carbonate hardness of your water should be between 8-12 dKH. Try to check on the hardness of your water on a weekly basis. There are many water-testing kits available in the market through which you can test not only the hardness of your water, but also the temperature, pH level, mineral level, and gravity of the water. Try to get one for yourself since these will help you keep a tab on the quality of your tank water.

Replacement Procedure

You should check the quality of the water at least once a week. Do not change the entire water all of a sudden because doing so will remove all the beneficial bacteria as well as it will create a lot of difficulties for your pipefish to adapt. Replace 10-25% of the total volume of the water every two to four weeks.

A Pipefish can co-exist with another pipefish easily; especially a male and a female can be kept together peacefully in your home fish tank. You can also keep groups of them together, but they require specialized care. You would have to take the help of an expert or an aquarist if you plan on keeping groups of them together.

When they are kept together, they often grab each other’s tails to form a long train like shape. Even seahorses tend to cling onto the tails of Pipefish. It creates quite the spectacle in the aquarium.

When you plan to keep more than one Pipefish together, remember that you need to increase the size of your tank too.

Suitable Tankmates for Pipefish

Pipefish need peaceful, slow-moving, non-competitive fish as their companions. It is recommended that they are kept in a species tank or with seahorses. A species tank is a tank that houses only members of a specific species.

Some of the ideal aquatic beings that can co-exist peacefully with a Pipefish are:

Unsuitable Tankmates for Pipefish

Territorial and aggressive fish and other aquatic animals should not be kept with Pipefish. Also, they should not be kept with someone with whom they have to compete for food. The following is a list of beings that should strictly not be kept with this fish.

  • Maroon Clowns
  • Sea Anemone
  • Triggerfish
  • Porcupinefish

As mentioned earlier, there are many variants of the Pipefish. Some of them are easy to breed while others are hard to breed.

Similar to their seahorse cousin, in case of Pipefish too, it is the males who carry the eggs.

The process of mating is preceded by a couple of rituals that take place between the male and female. They also have to swim at a similar speed in order to mate. After the mating process, the females keep the eggs on a spongy area on the tail that is present only in males. Some species of Pipefish even come with a pouch to keep their eggs on.

After the gestation period, the duration of which is depended on the number of babies that are supposed to take birth, the babies are left to fend for themselves. As a result, most of them end up being the prey for predators or even their own parents. Less than 1% of the babies reach maturity, which essentially means that their chances of survival are very less.

Pipefish need regular care since they are prone to multiple diseases. Before buying one from the pet store, make sure they are healthy enough. The most common diseases contracted by this fish and their symptoms are:

The symptoms of snout rot are loss of appetite, swelled up snout, erosion of the snout, discoloration of the snout, etc.

Ectoparasites

It is marked by visible parasites that come in the form of white spots over its body, erratic behavior, blisters, ulcerations, cloudy eyes, among others.

Bacterial Infection

The symptoms of bacterial infection are skin erosion, rapid breathing, loss of appetite, swelling and cloudy eyes.

The most obvious difficulty in keeping a Pipefish at home is that they need a very large tank to live. Not everyone can accommodate a 30-gallon tank, which is the standard sized tank for a single Pipefish.

Also, they can’t be kept with fast-moving and competitive fish. So, if you are planning to host an array of different species of fish together with Pipefish, then you might have to reconsider.

Interesting Facts about Pipefish

  • The oldest record of a Pipefish is through a fossil fuel that is estimated to be around 50 million years old.
  • Some species of Pipefish can change their colors based on their surroundings.
  • While feeding, few species of Pipefish make a clicking sound that is generated by the bony edges of their skull.

Despite being an uncommon choice for an aquarium, Pipefish are slowly and steadily gaining popularity among pet lovers. However, they require a lot of effort from your end to make sure they are living healthily.  Not only do they need a large tank, but they are also not easily adaptable to frozen or easily accessible food. Nevertheless, they are a peaceful, slow-moving creature that can add a sense of charm to your tank.

Other Peaceful Saltwater Fish for Your Aquarium

Some of the other peaceful saltwater fish that are similar in nature to that of Pipefish are as follows:

  • Blenny Fish – Extremely adorable to look at, Blenny fish mostly spend their time hiding among rocks and plants, while peeping every now and then to check on its surroundings. Their temperament is peaceful.
  • Watchman Goby – The Watchman Goby are regarded as a great pick for beginners. They are pretty calm and non-aggressive. They get along with other species easily. However, their compatibility with their own kind is a bit low.
  • Firefish – Calm and composed in nature, firefish is an interesting choice for saltwater aquarium. Their long white body combined with their fiery red/orange tail gives them a unique look.
  • Royal Gramma – Royal Gramma adds a beautiful dash of color to the aquarium with their purple anterior and yellow posterior. They love hiding in caves and rocks and are peaceful in nature.

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Dr Richard Smith - Ocean Realm Images

Ghost pipefish facts and images

by Richard | Apr 23, 2012 | Marine Biology , Photography , Uncategorized

ghost pipefish diet

Ghost pipefishes are masters of disguise.  In fact they may have some of the best disguises in the sea, which range from uncanny mimicry of leaves, crinoids, algae to sponges and seagrass.  It is quite a challenge to find some of these little gems but well worth the hours scrutinising every little thing that moves on the reef.  The range of colours and body shapes can make even the seasoned critter hunter surprised by this amazing group.

Are ghost pipefishes really pipefishes?

Ghost pipefish do not actually belong to the same taxonomic group that contains pipefish and seahorses as you might expect.  All belong to the order Sygnathiformes but the two groups belong to different families within the order; Ghost pipefishes belong to the family Solenostomidae, whilst pipefish and seahorses the family Sygnathidae. 

How do ghost pipefishes reproduce?

Their reproduction is unlike the true pipefish, in which the male broods the young, it is the female ghost pipefish that broods the eggs within large fused pelvic fins located under the body.  Most species have a relatively long period spent floating around in the ocean as plankton, reaching almost adult length before they finally settle onto the reef.  This means that they have a wide geographic range since they can travel long distances after they are born.  They are generally found living in pairs with the smaller, skinnier of the two male and the large individual, with bigger fins, the female.  They range in size from 10-15 cm. 

What are the different ghost pipefish species and how do you identify them?  

Ornate Ghost Pipefish – Solenostomus paradoxus :

This is probably the most well know species, which is also known as the Harlequin ghost pipefish.  It is often found in pairs living along side crinoids (feather stars) and occurs in a startling rainbow of colour forms.  As well as feather stars I have seen this species mimicking soft corals, hydroids, whip corals and gorgonian corals.  The small protrusions that cover the animal’s body help break up its outline in these micro-habitats.  Like the other species the ornate ghost pipefish is a predator of small mysid shrimp.  Juveniles are almost transparent but are nearly adult length when they settle from their planktonic stage.

Robust ghost pipefish (Solenostomus cyanopterus)

Another of the more common species.  It can easily be identified by a uniform colouration of beige, brown, black, green or very rarely bright red.  It has no filaments or hairs and no distinctive markings over the body.  It mimics seagrasses with uncanny ability and also sways with surge or current in the same way as an inanimate leaf.  Having seen a few of these you will suddenly have a subconscious search image in your brain and begin seeing them at every turn.  It does become a little worrying when you see them on land too!

Rough-snout ghostpipefish (Solenostomus paegnius)

Identifying this species isn’t rocket science.  The presence of weedy appendages underneath the snout is key.  The amount of ‘hair’ on the body can be highly variable ranging from virtually smooth to a very shaggy in appearance.  Colouration is generally greenish or brown but if you’re lucky there are also red forms, this depends upon the colour of local algae, which it mimics.  The body is elongate and similar in shape to the robust species with the exception of appendages under the snout.

Delicate ghost pipefish (Solenostomus leptosomus)

This is a fairly uncommon species but can be quite easily identified by a thin white stripe down the middle of the body.  Whilst uncommon, it has a wide geographic range across the Indian and Pacfic Oceans.  It is quite slender in comparison to the other ghost pipefishes and commonly redish or brown in colouration, although sometimes it can appear almost transparent.  There is usually a small weedy appendage under the middle of the snout but some individuals may have more than others.

Halimeda ghost pipefish (Solenostomus halimeda)

In some localities around Southeast Asia this species can be quite common, and in others totally absent.  As the name suggests it is found living with Halimeda , which is a hard, green calcareous alga that often forms large patches on the reef.  The ghost pipefish has rounded fins that resemble the individual growth segments of the Halimeda .  The alga is green or white in colouration often with red filaments and as a result the ghost pipefish in a particular patch of the alga resemble these colours exactly. 

Hairy ghost pipefish (Solenostomus sp?)

This species has not officially been scientifically described and named but is fairly well known from the Coral Sea region between Australia, Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands.  It is covered in long red filaments and has a more compact body than the hairy forms of the rough snout ghost pipefish, with which it could possibly be confused.  It is found living near filamentous algae that has a similar form and colour as the fish.

Velvet ghost pipefish (Solenostomus sp?)

This species is one of the more colourful ghost pipefishes existing in white, baby pink and brilliant red.  These colours seem gaudy out of context but in their habitat of a vibrant reef it blends in magnificently.  The surface texture mimics that of the sponges with which it is usually found and the shape is also reminiscent of certain small sponges. 

Where do ghost pipefish live?

In many parts of their range ghost pipefish are extremely seasonal and only present for a few months of the year, usually when the water is warmest.  This varies from location to location but local guides will usually know when this is.  Ghost pipefishes generally do not like areas of strong current, preferring sheltered spots such as bays or ‘muck’ sites.  Search for them around small outcrops of coral, algae or sponges on sandy slopes.

How will I take the best shots of ghost pipefishes?

Given that ghost pipefishes are fairly confident in their camouflage they are usually secure in hanging around whilst photographers get the shots they want.  Having said that it is the responsibility of the photographer to treat them with respect and limit disturbance to the animal.  As with all underwater creatures they will be much easier to photograph if they are not manipulated or poked to get them in a better position.  This puts the animal in a defensive mode and is much more likely to shy away from the diver making photographs much more difficult.  With care and patience ghost pipefish are excellent subjects that make lovely photographs.

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  3. The ultimate guide to Ghost Pipefish with Murex Dive Resorts

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  4. Robust Ghost Pipefish

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  5. Robust Ghost Pipefish

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  6. Ornate Ghost Pipefish, Philippines

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COMMENTS

  1. Robust ghost pipefish

    Solenostomus cyanopterus at Sharm el Sheik The robust ghost pipefish can reach a length of 17 cm (6.7 in) in total length (TL), [9] which makes it the largest of the ghost pipefishes. [11] It has a long snout, with the mouth positioned at the end, and the jaws are largely toothless. Its tail is also long in comparison to its body. [12]

  2. The Cryptic Life of Ghost Pipefishes

    Most likely they die after the release of the larvae. Unlike as in their relatives, the seahorses and pipefishes, the female of the ghost pipefishes, carrying the eggs in a brood sac formed by two fused pelvic fins until the hatching and the release of the small embryos in the open sea, is bigger than the male.. Camouflage

  3. Ghost pipefish

    Ghost pipefish, (genus Solenostomus), any of a group of small, rare marine fishes characterized by long snouts and enlarged fins that belong to the family Solenostomidae (order Gasterosteiformes). Ghost pipefishes inhabit the Indian and western Pacific oceans and reach lengths of 7.5 to 17 cm

  4. Solenostomus

    Solenostomus Solenostomus, also known as the ghost pipefishes, false pipefishes or tubemouth fishes, is a genus of fishes in the order Syngnathiformes. Solenostomus is the only genus in the family Solenostomidae, and includes six currently recognized species. [2] [3] Ghost pipefishes are related to pipefishes and seahorses.

  5. Pipefish Care, Diet, Habitat, and Species Guide

    Appearance Pipefish have a similar shaped head and snout to the seahorse. Their mouths are small, narrow and toothless and create a vacuum to suck tiny crustaceans in. Their bodies look quite different to that of the seahorse though. Pipefish have slender, straight, bodies which are able to camouflage well with seagrasses and weeds.

  6. Robust Ghostpipefish, Solenostomus cyanopterus Bleeker,1855

    Ghost Pipefish, Racek's Ghost Pipefish, Rough-snout Ghostpipefish, Squaretail Ghost-pipefish Similar species: Ghostpipefishes are different to seahorses in several ways. A ghostpipefish's head is held at an angle to the body, but not at such a large angle as that of the seahorse. ... Feeding and diet. The species feeds on small crustaceans ...

  7. Solenostomus halimeda, Halimeda ghostpipefish

    Solenostomus halimeda, a new species of ghost pipefish (Teleostei: Gasterosteiformes) from the Indo-Pacific, with a revised key to the known species of the family Solenostomidae. aqua, J. Ichthyol. Aquat. Biol. 5 (3):99-108. (Ref. 57851)

  8. Solenostomus cyanopterus, Ghost pipefish : aquarium

    Picture by JiMin Classification / Names Common names | Synonyms | Catalog of Fishes ( genus, species) | ITIS | CoL | WoRMS | Cloffa Teleostei (teleosts) > Syngnathiformes (Pipefishes and seahorses) > Solenostomidae (Ghost pipefishes) Etymology: Solenostomus: Greek, solen = tube + Greek, stoma = mouth (Ref. 45335). More on author: Bleeker .

  9. Ghost Pipefish

    The ghost pipefish is a master of camouflage. One species looks like blades of seagrass, while another looks like fronds of kelp. And one species piles on several disguises. In fact, the ability to blend in -- to appear and disappear -- earned the ghost pipefish the "ghost" part of the name.The ghost pipefish is found in warm, shallow waters from the eastern coast of Africa,

  10. Pipefishes & ghost pipefishes

    The pipefishes and ghost pipefishes are among the closest relatives to seahorses and seadragons. Similar to those groups, these fishes have elongated snouts for capturing small prey and are extremely well-camouflaged. The elongated body of pipefishes is thought to be an ancestral trait, with seahorses having evolved their upright position after ...

  11. Robust Ghost Pipefish

    The Robust Ghost pipefish has a long laterally compressed angular body comprised of a series of armored plates. The head is angled downwards but not as much as on a Seahorse. There is a small flap of skin just below the mouth which is presumably a sensory organ. On the females which are usually larger, the pelvic fins are large and are fused ...

  12. Ornate Ghost Pipefish

    Distribution Solenostomus paradoxus is found in the tropical and subtropical waters of the Indo-Pacific region, of the Western Pacific Ocean and Indian Ocean. The Ornate Ghost Pipefish has been observed in Asia around the Maldives, Japan, Indonesia, New Guinea, to the East coast of Australia and Tonga, to Eastern Africa and the Red Sea.

  13. Ghost pipefish

    Its diet consists of small crustaceans such as the mysid shrimp. It is an ambush predator and uses camouflage to hunt and floats with its head facing down, mimicking vegetation. Females carry eggs in their brood pouch. Conservation and management According to the IUCN Red List, this species is categorized as 'Least Concern'.

  14. Ghost Pipefish

    Global. Widespread throughout region, but hard to spot. HABITAT: Depending on the species, Ghost Pipefish mimic and live alongside a variety of hosts including: crinoids, soft corals, sea grass, hydroids and algae.

  15. Ghost pipefishes

    In fact they may have some of the best disguises in the sea, which range from uncanny mimicry of leaves, crinoids, algae to sponges and seagrass. It is quite a challenge to find some of these little gems but well worth the hours scrutinising every little thing that moves on the reef.

  16. "Discover the Robust Ghost Pipefish: A Fascinating Marine Species"

    The Robust Ghost Pipefish is a popular fish in the aquarium trade due to its unique appearance and behavior. However, they are difficult to care for and require a specialized diet, environment, and care to thrive in captivity. Therefore, it is important to research and understand the specific requirements of this species before considering ...

  17. Marine Species: Ghost Pipefish • Scuba Diver Life

    Halimeda ghost pipefish. This is the smallest of ghost pipefish, reaching a maximum size of about 2.4 inches (6 cm). Its name comes from the algae Halimeda, as its body looks similar to the plant. It is usually green but can be red or white, resembling the algae it is using to camouflage.

  18. Pipefish: the Ultimate Care, Diet, Habitat and Species Guide

    APPEARANCE Pipefish have a similarly shaped head and snout as the seahorse. Their mouths are small, narrow and toothless and create a vacuum to feed on tiny crustaceans. Their bodies look quite different from that of the seahorse. There are over 200 species of pipefish. Here are some of the more popular species found in United States waters:

  19. Pipefish: A Species, Diet, Habitat and Care Guide

    The Pipefish Diet. Copepods - "More Copepods" (CC BY-SA 2.0) The pipefish diet is quite diverse for a creature that sticks to very specific oceanic regions. However, they are not feisty or aggressive fish, and so will not engage in competing for food, this is a reason why it's so important to keep them in line with our pipefish tank ...

  20. Roughsnot Ghost Pipefish

    Pipefish are closely related to Shrimpfish, Seahorses and Dragonets. Pipefish should be added to aquariums with plenty of rockwork with caves, cracks, crevices and ledges large enough to hide in. Solenostomus Pipefish feed strictly on benthic invertebrates and require a diet of live fortified Brine, Glass/Grass Shrimp, Copepods or Amphipods fed at least 4 to 5 times daily.

  21. Pipefish: The Complete Care Guide, Diet, Habitat and Petting

    Overview Members of the Syngnathidae family, Pipefish are the cousins of Seahorses and Sea-Dragons. They have gained their name from their elongated snout that is shaped just like a pipe. They are a type of saltwater fish. However, a small variant of them is found in freshwater too.

  22. Robust ghost pipefish

    The robust ghost pipefish (Solenostomus cyanopterus), also known as the blue-finned ghost pipefish, Racek's ghost pipefish, robust-snouted ghost pipefish, or the squaretail ghost-pipefish, is a species of false pipefish belonging to the family Solenostomidae.Its appearance can vary greatly due to its ability to change colors over several hours, but the general body shape and fin shapes allow ...

  23. Ghost pipefish facts and images

    In fact they may have some of the best disguises in the sea, which range from uncanny mimicry of leaves, crinoids, algae to sponges and seagrass. It is quite a challenge to find some of these little gems but well worth the hours scrutinising every little thing that moves on the reef.