Ribboned Pipehorse, Haliichthys taeniophorus Gray 1859

Other Names: Ribboned Pipefish, Ribboned Seadragon

A Ribboned Pipehorse, Haliichthys taeniophorus, in an aquarium. Source: Claudine Lamothe / Flickr. License: CC by Attribution-NonCommercial


A relatively large green, yellowish or brownish pipefish with prominent branched weed-like appendages on the head and body.

Video of Ribboned Pipehorses in the Cairns Marine facility.

Cite this page as:

Thompson, Vanessa J. & Dianne J. Bray, 2011, Ribboned Pipehorse, Haliichthys taeniophorus, in Fishes of Australia, accessed 26 May 2016, http://www.fishesofaustralia.net.au/home/species/1530

Ribboned Pipehorse, Haliichthys taeniophorus Gray 1859

More Info


Known from tropical Irian Jaya, Papua New Guinea and Australia; inhabits a variety of inshore shallow water areas including weedy regions bordering open substrates, coral reefs, rocky, gravel, sandy and muddy substrates; also associated with sponges, algae, hydroids, shells and seagrass usually from 1-18 m.


Meristic features: Dorsal fin 24-27; Pectoral fin 19-22; Trunk rings 18-20; Tail rings 43-47.

Superior trunk and tail ridges discontinuous; inferior trunk ridge ending at anal ring; lateral trunk ridge confluent with inferior tail ridge.

Head length 5.4-7.1 in TL; snout elongate, length 1.6-1.7 in head length; snout depth 8.6-12.3 in snout length. 

Head and body spines strong, relatively short, prominent and mostly recurved; spines or knobs on body ridges; dermal flaps and bony knobs present on and above eyes; dermal ‘leafy' appendages on head and body.

Caudal fin present in juveniles (short and truncate), absent in sub adults; dorsal fin origin on trunk, fin base elevated.


To 300 mm TL


The colour pattern is variable. Individuals founds in shallow water are mainly greenish-yellow, whereas trawled specimens are often brown to reddish with an irregular blotched pattern, sometimes with indications of narrow dark bars crossing the upper side of body.


Preys on small planktonic crustaceans.


The eggs are brooded by the males in a semi-exposed pouch under the tail; pouch plates and folds area present. Males may begin brooding at 16 cm SL.

The pear shaped eggs are coloured yellow/orange/amber; embedded in the epithelial tissue lining of the pouch wall surrounding capillaries supply oxygen to embryos.


Although this species inhabits trawling grounds, and may be taken as bycatch by commercial fishers.


Marine listed under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.

Similar Species

H. taeniophorus is distinguished from other pipefishes and pipehorses by its large size, elongate snout and leafy appendages on the head and body.


Haliichthys is from the Greek als meaning salt and the Greek ichthys for fish.

Species Citation

Haliichthys taeniophorus Gray 1859, Proc. Zool. Soc. Lond. 1859(27): 39, pl. 7, Freycinet's Harbour, Shark Bay, Western Australia.


Thompson, Vanessa J. & Dianne J. Bray

Ribboned Pipehorse, Haliichthys taeniophorus Gray 1859


Allen, G.R. 1997. Marine fishes of tropical Australia and south-east Asia. Western Australian Museum, Perth. 292 pp.

Allen, G.R. & Erdmann, M.V. 2012. Reef fishes of the East Indies. Perth : Tropical Reef Research 3 vols, 1260 pp.

Allen, G.R. & R. Swainston. 1988. The Marine Fishes of North-Western Australia. A Field Guide for Anglers and Divers. Western Australian Museum. 201 pp.

Dawson, C.E. 1985. Indo-Pacific Pipefishes (Red Sea to the Americas). Gulf Coast Research Laboratory, Ocean Springs, Mississippi. 230 pp.

Gloerfelt-Tarp, T. & P.J. Kailola. 1984. Trawled fishes of southern Indonesia and northwestern Australia. Australian Development Assistance Bureau, Australia, Directorate General of Fishes, Indonesia, and German Agency for Technical Cooperation, Federal Republic of Germany. 407 pp.

Gray, J.E. 1859. Decription of a new genus of lophobranchiate fishes from western Australia. Proc. Zool. Soc. Lond. 1859(27): 38-39, pl. 7.

Hoese, D.F., D.J. Bray, J.R. Paxton & G.R. Allen. 2006. Fishes. In Beesley, P.L. & A. Wells (eds). Zoological catalogue of Australia. Volume 35. ABRS & CSIRO Publishing: Australia. 2178 pp.

Kuiter, R.H. 2000. Seahorses, Pipefishes and their Relatives. TMC Publishing, Chorleywood, UK. 240 pp.

Kuiter, R.H. 2009. Seahorses and their relatives. Aquatic Photographics, Seaford, Australia: 1-333.

Larson, H K., R.S. Williams & M.P. Hammer. 2013. An annotated checklist of the fishes of the Northern Territory, Australia. Zootaxa 3696(1): 1-293.

Paulus, T. 1999. Family Syngnathidae. pp 2264-2276, in Capenter K.E. & Niem V.H. (eds) The Living Marine Resources of the Western Central Pacific. FAO Species Identification Guide For Fisheries Purposes. FAO Vol. 4. pp 2069-2790.

Pozonoski, J.J., D.A. Pollard & J.R. Paxton. 2002. Conservation Overview and Action Plan for Australian Threatened and Potentially Threatened Marine and Estuarine Fishes, Environment Australia, Canberra. 375 pp.

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37282007

Biology:Male broods the eggs

Conservation:EPBC Act Marine Listed

Depth:1-18 m

Habitat:Reefs, seagrass beds

Max Size:30 cm TL

Species Image Gallery

Species Maps

CAAB distribution map