© Johan Boshoff


Pipefish (Syngnathinae)


Pipefishes measure 12 cm on average but can be as long as 60 cm.


Pipefishes have long, thin bodies that are snake-like in form and covered in series of bony bumps. They have tiny, elongated snouts and terminal mouths. The caudal fin is small and round, and they have a single dorsal fin. Pipefish vary greatly in bright colours, and some can be marked in yellow, red or orange bands.

General Information

Pipefishes belong to the Syngnathinae sub-family which comprises of 23 genera and 120 species. They use their dorsal fins to propel themselves forward, and a sucking movement to catch their prey. Being family of seahorses, males have a brooding pouch where eggs are laid, fertilised and held until they hatch. Some eggs develop fully and others enter a larvae stage.


Pipefishes feed on small invertebrates.


They can be found in all temperate and tropical oceans across the world.

Common Species

Black-breasted pipefish (Corythoichthys nigripectus)
Cleaner pipefish (Doryrhamphus janssi)
Ornate ghost pipefish (Solenostomus paradoxus)

© Johan Boshoff