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.
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.
The species grows to 15 cm in length.
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.
Distribution by collection data
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.
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.
- Edgar, G.J. 1997. Australian Marine Life: the plants and animals of temperate waters. Reed Books. Pp. 544.
- 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.
- Kuiter, R.H. 1996. Guide to Sea Fishes of Australia. New Holland. Pp. 433.
- Kuiter, R.H. 2000. Coastal Fishes of South-eastern Australia. Gary Allen. Pp. 437.
- Kuiter, R.H. 2000. Seahorses, Pipefishes and their Relatives. A Comprehensive Guide to Syngnathiformes. TMC Publishing Pp. 240.
Mark McGrouther , Collection Manager, Ichthyology