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Phylum Chordata > Subphylum Vertebrata > fishes > Family Syngnathidae > pipefishes
Seagrass pipefish
awaiting identification*
Family Syngnathidae
updated Oct 2020

if you learn only 3 things about it ...
It looks just like a bit of root or rubbish. Look carefully to find one.
It hides among seaweeds and can't move fast. Watch your step!
The male looks carries the eggs.

Where seen? This skinny long fish can be seasonally abundant in seagrass areas on our Northern shores. Also sometimes seen in seagrasses in the South. At low tide, it generally remains motionless among seagrasses and seaweeds, and resembles roots or twigs. Watch your step!

Features: 8-10cm. Body long, cylindrical and somewhat stiff. Long snout with tiny tubular nostrils. Has tiny pelvic fins, a tiny dorsal fin at about mid-length of the body and a tiny fan-shaped tail fin. Comes in a wide range of colours and patterns, from black to brown, pink to green. Some have narrow pale bands widely but evenly spaced along the body. Others may be plain.

Sometimes mistaken for other fishes that resemble twigs and roots. Here's more on how to tell apart stick-like fishes commonly seen on our shores.

Changi, May 12

Changi, Oct 07

Long tube-like toothless snout.
Tiny tubular nostrils. Tiny pelvic fins.
Changi, Aug 14

Dorsal fin
Changi, Apr 05

Small tail
Changi, Apr 05

Changi, Jul 04

Changi, Jul 08
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.

Very pregnant papa.
Changi, Jun 13

Very pregnant papa.
Changi, Apr 09
Status and threats: See Family Sygnathidae for threats to pipefishes and seahorses.

*Species are difficult to positively identify without close examination of small features.
On this website, they are grouped by general large external features for convenience of display.

Seagrass pipefishes on Singapore shores
On wildsingapore flickr

Other sightings on Singapore shores


Coney Island, Nov 16
Photo shared by Loh Kok Sheng on flickr.

Punggol, Jun 18
Photo shared by Richard Kuah on facebook.

 

Pasir Ris Park, Sep 20
Photo shared by Loh Kok Sheng on facebook.


Pasir Ris Park, May 19
Photo shared by Jianlin Liu on facebook.
 


Changi Carpark 4, Apr 15
Photo shared by Marcus Ng on facebook.

Changi Loyang, Apr 17
Photo shared by Loh Kok Sheng on facebook.


Pulau Sekudu, Jul 16
Photo shared by Loh Kok Sheng on his blog.

Chek Jawa, Nov 17

Photo shared by Abel Yeo on facebook.
 


Tanah Merah, Oct 09
Photo shared by James Koh on his blog.

East Coast (PCN), May 21
Photo shared by Vincent Choo on facebook.


Siloso, May 09
Photo shared by Ivan Kwan on his blog

Sisters Island, Jan 07
Photo shared by Marcus Ng on flckr.


St John's Island, Oct 20
Photo shared by James Koh on flickr.

Big Sisters Island, Jan 20
Photo shared by Loh Kok Sheng on facebook.


St John's Island, Mar 11
Photo shared by Loh Kok Sheng on flickr.

St John's Island, Nov 15
Photo shared by Marcus Ng on facebook.


Cyrene Reef, Sep 20
Photo shared by Loh Kok Sheng on facebook.

Cyrene Reef, Sep 20
Photo shared by Loh Kok Sheng on facebook.
 


Cyrene Reef, Aug 18
Photo shared by Abel Yeo on facebook.


Pulau Semakau, Dec 08

Photo shared by Loh Kok Sheng on his blog.



Pulau Semakau South, Oct 20
Photo shared by Jianlin Liu on facebook.

Pulau Semakau (West), Jan 21
Photo shared by Jianlin Liu on facebook.

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