Animal Species:Widebody Pipefish, Stigmatopora nigra Kaup, 1856

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

Standard Common Name

Widebody Pipefish

Alternative Name/s

Wide-bodied Pipefish, Wide-body Pipefish


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.

Size range

The species grows to 15 cm in length.

Similar Species

The Widebody Pipefish is closely related to theSpotted Pipefish Stigmatopora argus. They can be identified by colouration and the position of the dorsal fin. The dorsal fin is on the 5th-7th rings of the Wide-body Pipefish, but on the 11th-13th rings of the Spotted Pipefish. The Spotted Pipefish is usually green with obvious black spots on the dorsal surface of the body.


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.

Stigmatopora nigra

Distribution by collection data

Ozcam map of Widebody Pipefish specimens in the Australian Museums.

What does this mean?


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

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 cycle

It is thought to live for about one year.

Mating and reproduction

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.



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. 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.

Mark McGrouther , Collection Manager, Ichthyology
Last Updated:

Tags Fishes, Ichthyology, Widebody Pipefish, Stigmatopora nigra, Syngnathidae, brown, green, red, 10 cm - 30 cm, no pattern, rocky reefs, seagrass, marine, adult, dorsal fin,