Animal Species:Spotted Pipefish, Stigmatopora argus (Richardson, 1840)

The Spotted Pipefishis usually green with obvious black spots on the dorsal surface of the body. The species is usually found in seagrass beds and weedy areas on rocky reefs, and

Spotted Pipefish, Stigmatopora argus

Spotted Pipefish, Stigmatopora argus
Photographer: Kerryn Parkinson © Kerryn Parkinson

Standard Common Name

Spotted Pipefish

Alternative Name/s

Gulf Pipefish, Peacock Pipefish


The Spotted Pipefish is classified in the family Syngnathidae and is related to the seahorses and seadragons. The fish is usually green with obvious black spots on the dorsal surface of the body.

Size range

The species can grow to 27 cm in length.

Similar Species

The Spotted Pipefish resembles the Wide-body Pipefish but can be distinguished by dorsal fin placement and colouration.


The Spotted Pipefish is known from Australia and New Zealand. In Australia it occurs in marine waters from southern Queensland to Tasmania and in south-western Australia.

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

Stigmatopora argus

Distribution by collection data

Ozcam map of Spotted Pipefish specimens in the Australian Museums.

What does this mean?


The species is usually found in seagrass beds and weedy areas on rocky reefs.

Feeding and Diet

They feed on small crustaceans, mostly copepods and mysids.

Other behaviours and adaptations

Spotted Pipefish use the prehensile tail to hold onto seagrass or algae.

Mating and reproduction

Males and females are easy to tell apart when they are breeding. During breeding males have a pouch on the belly where they carry their young. They give birth to young pipefish that resemble the adults. Females generally have a wider body than males, with a fine orange band on the upper side. This band is more prominent when the pipefish is breeding. They are thought to live for about one year.



What does this mean?


  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. 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.
  4. Hutchins, B. & R. Swainston. 1986. Sea Fishes of Southern Australia. Complete Field Guide for Anglers and Divers. Swainston Publishing. Pp. 180.
  5. Kuiter, R.H. 1996. Guide to Sea Fishes of Australia. New Holland. Pp. 433.
  6. Kuiter, R.H. 2000. Coastal Fishes of South-eastern Australia. Gary Allen. Pp. 437.

Mark McGrouther , Senior Fellow
Last Updated:

Tags Fishes, Ichthyology, Spotted Pipefish, Stigmatopora argus, Syngnathidae, yellow, green, black, long and skinny, 10 cm - 30 cm, dots/spots, seagrass, algae, marine, adult, dorsal fin,