Animal Species:Robust Ghostpipefish, Solenostomus cyanopterus Bleeker,1855

Although there is considerable variation, many Robust Ghostpipefish look remarkably similar to a piece of seagrass.

Standard Common Name

Robust Ghostpipefish

Alternative Name/s

Ghost Pipefish, Racek's Ghost Pipefish, Rough-snout Ghostpipefish, Squaretail Ghost-pipefish


The colouration of the Robust Ghostpipefish is highly variable from grey, brown to bright green. The species has a very short to absent caudal peduncle.

Size range

It is the largest of the ghostpipefishes, growing to a maximum length of 15 cm.

Similar Species

Ghostpipefishes are different to seahorses in several ways. A ghostpipefish’s head is held at an angle to the body, but not at such a large angle as that of the seahorse. Ghostpipefishes have two dorsal fins whereas a seahorse only has one.


The Robust Ghostpipefish lives in marine waters of the Indian and western Pacific Oceans. In Australia it is found in coastal bays and estuaries from Shark Bay, Western Australia, around the tropical north and south to Sydney Harbour, New South Wales.

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

Solenostomus cyanopterus

Distribution by collection data

Ozcam map of Robust Ghostpipefish specimens in the Australian Museums

What does this mean?


It is usually seen in pairs near algae or seagrass beds. When disturbed it will move into the vegetation.

Feeding and Diet

The species feeds on small crustaceans.

Mating and reproduction

Unlike the seahorses, ghostpipefishes do not have a pouch in which the young are reared, instead a female ghostpipefish (rather than the male seahorse) looks after the eggs in a pouch formed by her modified ventral fins. These fins are greatly expanded and united with the abdomen along the upper margin and together below for a brood pouch.



What does this mean?


  1. Hoese, D.F., Bray, D.J., Paxton, J.R. & G.R. Allen. 2006. Fishes. In Beesley, P.L. & A. Wells. (eds) Zoological Catalogue of Australia. Volume 35. ABRS & CSIRO Publishing: Australia. parts 1-3, pages 1-2178.
  2. Hutchins, B. & R. Swainston. 1986. Sea Fishes of Southern Australia. Complete Field Guide for Anglers and Divers. Swainston Publishing. Pp. 180.
  3. Kuiter, R.H. 1996. Guide to Sea Fishes of Australia. New Holland. Pp. 433.
  4. Kuiter, R.H. 2000. Seahorses, Pipefishes and their Relatives. A Comprehensive Guide to Syngnathiformes. TMC Publishing Pp. 240.
  5. Michael, S.W. 1998. Reef Fishes. Volume 1. A Guide to Their Identification, Behaviour, and Captive Care. Microcosm. Pp. 624.

Mark McGrouther , Senior Fellow
Last Updated:

Tags fishes, ichthyology, Robust Ghostpipefish, Solenostomus cyanopterus, Solenostomidae, brown, eel-like, 10 cm - 30 cm, green, red, blotches/mottled, kelp/algae/seagrass, marine, adult,