learn only 3 things about them ...
They have bones inside as well as outside.
The male looks after the eggs.
are hard to spot and can't move fast. Watch your step
or you might step on one!
seen? A cousin of the more famous seahorse, these extremely
well camouflaged fishes are often mistaken for roots and overlooked.
Particularly as they often lie motionless among the seagrasses and
seaweeds. Pipefishes are seen on many of our shores. They appear to
be seasonally common. They are more often seen when it is dark. During
the day, they remain well hidden.
What are pipefishes? Pipefishes
are true fish, although they don't appear very fish-like! Pipefishes
belong to Family Syngnathidae which
Features: Bodies long, cylindrical
and rather stiff being enclosed in an armour of bony rings just under
the skin. They also have an internal skeleton just like other fish.
Most retain a dorsal fin and pectoral fins and some have a fan-like
tail fin. Pipefishes lack scales. Gill openings are reduced to a pore.
Some have prehensile tails.
Pipefishes are adapted for sheltered waters well vegetated with seagrass
or seaweed. With reduced fins and rather inflexible bodies, pipefishes
cannot swim quickly. Instead, they rely on camouflage to blend in
with the vegetation. Pipefishes come in a wide variety of colours
What do they eat? Pipefishes feed
on tiny creatures. To suck these up, they use their long tube-like
snouts tipped with a small toothless mouth.
Pipefish babies: Like the seahorse,
the male pipefish also carries the eggs. In some species, the male
has a pouch on the underside of his tail. For those without a pouch,
the eggs are glued to the underside of the male's tail or abdomen.
Often the eggs are embedded in a spongy tissue. Some have a pair of
flaps that fold over the eggs. Females have an ovipositor to lay eggs
on the male's body, where the eggs are then fertilised. In some species,
'pregnant' males may hang out together in small groups. The eggs develop
safely on dad's body. The father 'gives birth' to live young, which
emerge as miniatures of the adults.
Some pipefishes may perform courtship dances before mating. Unlike
seahorses, a mating pair of pipefishes may not remain faithful only
to one another. A female might lay her eggs on several males, and
a male might carry the eggs of several females.
Human uses: Pipefishes are used
in traditional Chinese medicine, often as a substitute for seahorses.
Some species are also caught for the live aquarium trade.
Status and threats: See Family
Syngnathidae for threats to pipefishes and seahorses.
Long tube-like toothless snout
Changi, Apr 05
Changi, Apr 05
on the underside
Pulau Semakau, Jun 05
on Singapore shores
recorded for Singapore
Wee Y.C. and Peter K. L. Ng. 1994. A First Look at Biodiversity
*from Lim, Kelvin K. P. & Jeffrey K. Y. Low, 1998. A Guide to the
Common Marine Fishes of Singapore.
seen awaiting identification
*Halicampus nitidus (Zebra or Glittering pipefish)
*Hippichthys cyanospilus (Blue-speckled pipefish)
*Ichthyocampus carce (Mangrove pipefish)
Syngnathoides biaculeatus (Alligator
(Family Syngnathidae) Tan, Leo W. H. & Ng, Peter K. L., 1988,
to Seashore Life. The Singapore Science Centre, Singapore.
Pipefish (Hippichthys cyanospilus)
Kelvin K. P. & Jeffrey K. Y. Low, 1998. A
Guide to the Common Marine Fishes of Singapore. Singapore
Science Centre. 163 pp.
Seahorse: THE website for everything about seahorses, it also
has lots of info about pipefish with details on the
trade in pipefish.
Syngnathidae from FishBase:
Technical fact sheet on the family, including fact sheets on individual
Syngnathidae: pipefishes on Fishes
of Libong Island (West Coast of Southern Thailand) by Keiichi
Matsuura and Seishi Kimura (eds.) on the National Science Museum,
Tokyo website: factsheets with photos and descriptions.
pipefish not so motherly after all on the wild shores of singapore