Widebody Pipefish, Stigmatopora nigra Click to enlarge image
A Widebody Pipefish at Camp Cove, Sydney Harbour, New South Wales, 6 Nov 2010. Image: Richard Vevers
© Richard Vevers

Fast Facts

  • Classification
    Species
    nigra
    Genus
    Stigmatopora
    Family
    Syngnathidae
    Order
    Syngnathiformes
    Class
    Actinopterygii
    Subphylum
    Vertebrata
    Phylum
    Chordata
    Kingdom
    Animalia
  • Size Range
    The species grows to 15 cm in length.

Introduction

The common name of the Widebody Pipefish refers to the shape of the wide body of mature females.



Identification

The Widebody Pipefish has an elongate body that is encased in dermal plates (often called rings) rather than scales. Its colour is variable from light to dark brown, green to red-brown.


Ventral surface of a Widebody Pipefish
Ventral surface of a Widebody Pipefish from the Australian Museum fish collection. Image: Mark McGrouther
© Australian Museum

Habitat

The Widebody Pipefish usually occurs in estuaries where it is common in seagrass beds or in weedy areas on rocky reefs.

Distribution

The species is recorded in temperate marine waters from southern Queensland, around the south of the country and north to the central coast of Western Australia. It is also known from New Zealand.

The map below shows the Australian distribution of the species based on public sightings and specimens in Australian Museums. Source: Atlas of Living Australia.



Feeding and diet

Food items include small crustaceans, mostly copepods and mysids.

Other behaviours and adaptations

It uses its tail to attach to seagrass and algae.

Life history cycle

It is thought to live for about one year.

Breeding behaviours

Male and female Widebody Pipefish are easy to tell apart when they are breeding. During breeding males have a small pouch on the belly where they carry the developing young. Males give birth to young pipefish that resemble the adults. Females develop a wide body (hence the common name) with a fine orange band along the side of the fish.

References

  1. Edgar, G.J. 1997. Australian Marine Life: the plants and animals of temperate waters. Reed Books. Pp. 544.
  2. Dawson, C.E. in Gomon, M.F., Glover, C.J.M. & R.H. Kuiter (Eds). 1994. The Fishes of Australia's South Coast. State Print, Adelaide. Pp. 992.
  3. Kuiter, R.H. 1996. Guide to Sea Fishes of Australia. New Holland. Pp. 433.
  4. Kuiter, R.H. 2000. Coastal Fishes of South-eastern Australia. Gary Allen. Pp. 437.
  5. Kuiter, R.H. 2000. Seahorses, Pipefishes and their Relatives. A Comprehensive Guide to Syngnathiformes. TMC Publishing Pp. 240.