Ribboned Pipehorse, Haliichthys taeniophorus Gray 1859

Other Names: Ribboned Pipefish, Ribboned Seadragon

A Ribboned Pipehorse, Haliichthys taeniophorus, in Akvárium Berlín, Germany. Source: Miloslav Petrtyl / BioLib.cz. License: CC BY Attribution-Noncommercial


Haliichthys This relatively large, ornate pipehorse is the only species in the genus Haliichthys.

Cite this page as:

Thompson, Vanessa J. & Dianne J. Bray, 2011, Ribboned Pipehorse, Haliichthys taeniophorus, in Fishes of Australia, accessed 20 Apr 2014, http://www.fishesofaustralia.net.au/home/species/1530

Ribboned Pipehorse, Haliichthys taeniophorus Gray 1859

More Info


usually in depths above 16 m


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 1.8-18 m.



Meristics: D 24-27; P 19-22 (usually 20-21);Trunk rings 18-20; Tail rings 43-47.

Head and body: 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.

Fins: Caudal fins 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, smetimes with indications of narrow dark bars crossing the upper side of body.


Preys on small planktonic crustaceans.


Reproduction: Ovoviviparous (gives birth to live young), 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 163 mm SL.

Eggs: 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.

Larvae: Morphologically similar to adults at birth.


Although this species inhabits trawling grounds, data on bycatch has not been well documented, so the extent to which this species is taken by commercial fishers is unknown.


Australian Government Legislation: 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.

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.

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.

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CAAB Code:37282007

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