Animal Species:Sydney's Pygmy Pipehorse, Idiotropiscis lumnitzeri Kuiter, 2004

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.

Standard Common Name

Sydney's Pygmy Pipehorse


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.

Size range

The largest specimen collected is the holotype, which is 55.2 mm in total length.


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.

Idiotropiscis lumnitzeri

Distribution by collection data

Ozcam map of Sydney's Pygmy Pipehorse specimens in the Australian Museums.

What does this mean?


It is found on semi-exposed red algae covered rocky reefs in coastal marine waters of 6 m to 30 m depth.

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.

Mating and reproduction

This video, shot by Nick Missenden, shows a mating pair. Full details available by clicking the icon and going to YouTube.



What does this mean?


  1. Dawson, C.E. 1985. Indo-Pacific Pipefishes (Red Sea to the Americas). The Gulf Coast Research Laboratory. Pp. 230.
  2. Kuiter, R.H. 2000. Seahorses, Pipefishes and their Relatives. A Comprehensive Guide to Syngnathiformes. TMC Publishing Pp. 240.
  3. Kuiter, R. H. 2004. A new pygmy pipehorse (Pisces: Syngnathidae: Idiotropiscis) from eastern Australia. Records of the Australian Museum 56(2): 163-65.

Mark McGrouther , Senior Fellow
Last Updated:

Tags fishes, ichthyology, Sydney's Pygmy Pipehorse, Idiotropiscis lumnitzeri, Syngnathidae, hairy, red, seahorse, marine, < 10 cm, white, purple,