The Amazing Pipefish

The Amazing Pipefish

The amazing pipe fish is one of those critters that gets my heart racing when I come in contact with one.  They are a widely varied animal in size, shape and color, and a cousin to the sea horse.  Like the sea horse, there are pygmy pipe fish, which are mere centimeters in length and sometimes very difficult to photograph.

Pug nose pygmy pipe fish (Bulbonaricus brauni)
Braun’s pug head pipe fish (Bulbonaricus brauni)

Braun’s pug head pipe fish (above) is one of those very difficult to photograph animals.  It lives down among the coral polyps and moves quickly so it’s face is rarely showing for more than a fraction of a second.

Pygmy Pipefish from Anilao, Philippines
Festucalex rufus pygmy pipe fish from Anilao, Philippines

This tiny red pipe fish was discovered in Anilao just recently and has only previously been found in Palau.  This one appears to be pregnant.

Banded pipefish with eggs
Banded pipe fish with eggs

The banded pipe fish carries its eggs on its belly.  Some of these eggs have already hatched, and those that are left are within hours of birth.

Lembeh Pipe Dragon

Lembeh Pipe Dragon

This tiny Lembeh Pipe Dragon is so small it looks like a tiny stick or filament hanging off the reef.  This one is also pregnant, and almost ready to deliver!

Mushroom Coral Pipe Fish
Mushroom Coral Pipe Fish

The Mushroom Coral Pipe Fish is almost as difficult to photograph as the pug head.  It also lives inside a mushroom coral and moves quickly.  It is slightly larger than the pug head, and getting it’s cute face in focus is always a challenge.  This fish has a jaw that is fused open which makes it appear to be frowning all the time.

Juvenile Ornate Ghost Pipefish
Juvenile Ornate Ghost Pipefish

Ghost pipe fish come in a bunch of varieties all their own.  This one is an ornate ghost pipe fish.  The ornates can be white, yellow, red, and black.  They are often seen in pairs with the male being smaller than the female.  Like the Robust Ghost Pipe Fish, they carry their eggs in a pouch made between their anal fins.


Like the Ornate Ghost Pipe Fish, the robust ghosties come in a variety of colors.  Red, brown black and green are common. They are also often found in pairs, and carry their eggs between their anal fins like the pair shown below.


The Halimeda ghost pipe fish (below) grows red fibers on its body to help it blend in to its environment.  One reason ghost pipe fish are referred to as “ghosts” is because of their ability to “disappear” into their environment.


Some pipe fish are beautifully patterned and some are plain.  Some look like they have branches and leaves growing on them.  Truly, there is such a rich variety of this animal, that they could never really be covered in one post, but a few more pictures might keep you satisfied.  Maybe.








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My photographs are taken with a Nikon  D810 in Sea and Sea Housing using two YS-D1 Strobes.
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