In October 1997 a young Sydney diver, Akos Lumnitzer, brought a strange fish to the Australian Museum for identification. We identified the fish as a pipehorse but could not identify it to species. The fish was sent to one of the world experts, Rudie Kuiter, in Victoria. Rudie realised that the fish was a new species and named it in honour of Akos.
Sydney's Pygmy Pipehorse resembles a seahorse. It has a prehensile tail and a large head with a tall frontal ridge. Like a seahorse, the head is held at an angle to the body. The head of Sydney's Pygmy Pipehorse, however, is positioned at a smaller angle to the longitudinal axis of the body (about 25%) than that of seahorses and more than that of most pipefishes.
The species is white to grey or red with brown blotches or bands.
Two other species of Idiotropiscis are known from Australian waters, I. larsonae (north-western Western Australia) and I. australe (South Australia and southern Western Australia). Sydney's Pygmy Pipehorse can be distinguished from these two species by a number of characters, including a much shorter trunk region.
It is found on semi-exposed red algae covered rocky reefs in coastal marine waters of 6 m to 30 m depth.
Sydney's Pygmy Pipehorse is known from the Sydney region south to Jervis Bay, New South Wales.
The map below shows the Australian distribution of the species based on public sightings and specimens in Australian Museums. Source: Atlas of Living Australia.Ozcam map of Sydney's Pygmy Pipehorse specimens in the Australian Museums. http://ozcam.ala.org.au/occurrences/search?q=Idiotropiscis%20lumnitzeri&zoom=off#mapView
Other behaviours and adaptations
This fish is rarely seen due to its small size and cryptic colouration.
Sydney's Pygmy Pipehorse is named after Ákos Lumnitzer who collected the type specimens. He had an aquarium collecting permit issued by New South Wales Fisheries.
This video, shot by Nick Missenden, shows a mating pair. Full details available by clicking the icon and going to YouTube.
- Dawson, C.E. 1985. Indo-Pacific Pipefishes (Red Sea to the Americas). The Gulf Coast Research Laboratory. Pp. 230.
- Kuiter, R.H. 2000. Seahorses, Pipefishes and their Relatives. A Comprehensive Guide to Syngnathiformes. TMC Publishing Pp. 240.
- Kuiter, R. H. 2004. A new pygmy pipehorse (Pisces: Syngnathidae: Idiotropiscis) from eastern Australia. Records of the Australian Museum 56(2): 163-65.