Pipefish are some of the most unique fishes that you will find in the aquarium hobby. These long slender fishes are often covered with intricate patterns and beautiful colors and are closely related to Seahorses. Instead of scales Pipefish are covered with bony plates and their mouths consist of a long tube.
Some types are free-swimming while others prefer to remain close to the substrate, where they are masters of camouflage and easily blend in with rocks, algae, sponges and other invertebrates found in their environment.
Pipefish live in shallow temperate waters throughout the world where they feed on small crustaceans and other tiny animals, although some have been known to serve as “cleaner” fish.
Most species available grow to a length between 6 to 8 inches, but the largest can grow up to 18 inches long.
Pipefish require specialized care to thrive in an aquarium. Many specimens will only accept live food and simply starve to death without it. Therefore, it is best to keep them in a reef tank or an aquarium that has a lot of live rock and live sand where they can feed on the tiny invertebrates that inhabit them. Also, if possible, an attached refugium should be provided to culture additional live foods for the Pipefish.
They will accept live brine shrimp but will not do well if other live items are not available. Pipefish are peaceful and will not bother other fish but they are often picked on and so they are best kept in a species tank. Otherwise they should be kept only with small non-aggressive fishes that will not compete with them for food.
Several species of Pipefish have been bred in captivity. This fascinating process begins with a mating “dance” performed by the male and female.
The female Pipefish then deposits her eggs onto the underside of the male, or in some species the male has a special brood pouch which the eggs are deposited into. After fertilization, the male carries the eggs until they hatch, which takes place after about a week or so, depending on the species. The fry will then need to be fed tiny animals called rotifers until they are large enough to be fed baby brine shrimp.
Compatibility: Seahorse, pipefish, live coral, live rock, sand.
Tank Conditions: 72-78°F; sg 1.020-1.025; pH 8.1-8.4; dKH 8-12