SEAHORSES & PIPEFISH

Few sea creatures have the universal appeal of the seahorse, one of nature’s true oddities. To many people the only connection between a seahorse and the fish from the local market is that both are found in the ocean. Seahorses are part of a much larger group of animals (the family Synganthidae) which have thick, external armour encasing the body and a tubular snout tipped with a mouth designed like a hatch door. The family also includes pipefishes, pipehorses and sea dragons. My favourite? Definitely the pygmee seahorse, especially the Bargibanti.

SOLENOSTOMUS PARADOXUS

All spikey and showing its colours. The ornate ghost pipefish. Ornate ghost pipefish are found in the Western Pacific and the Indian Ocean along reef edges prone to strong currents from the Red Sea to Tonga. They reach a maximum length of 12 cm. Although relatively common, ornate ghost pipefish are very well-camouflaged and difficult to find. It occurs either as solitary individuals or in pairs. Found in Anilao, South Luzon, Philippines

HIPPOCAMPUS BARGIBANTI

This my good side! Tiny, pinkish with large orange to red warts and spots, encircling bands on the tail. They live solitary or form small groups. Their homes are Sea fans of similar color of reefs and slopes in depths of 10-40m. They frequently adapt to the color of the host seafan. Anilao, South Luzon, Philippines

SIOKUNICHTHYS NIGROLINEATUS

Resting on green cushions. This species inhabits tropical waters and is reef-associated. It is found in coastal reefs, usually along the bottom of shallow drop-offs, and in small groups on solitary coral. These groups comprise mixed sex and sized individuals. Mushroom-coral pipefish are commensal with solitary corals, notably Fungia echinata and Heliofungia actiniformis. Anilao, South Luzon, Philippines.

BULBONARICUS BRAUNI

Braun's pughead pipefish is a species of marine fish of the family Syngnathidae. It is found in the Eastern Indian Ocean, from Indonesia to Western Australia, and off the Ryukyu Islands of Japan. It lives among coral reefs at depths of 1-10m, and can grow to lengths of 5.5 cm. The males carry eggs in a brood pouch until they hatch. The specific name honors "the collector" J. Braun who brought the living holotype to the Western Australia Museum. Anilao, South Luzon, Philippines

SOLENOSTOMUS CYANOPTERUS

This uncommon species, also called robust ghost-pipefish, is found in coastal reefs and weedy areas or lagoon reefs, often on algal flats or seagrass beds. Monogamous, always in pairs. Females carry the eggs in their pelvic fins that are modified to form a brood pouch. Feed on small crustaceans. This one is a red young female variation, relatively rare. Lembeh Strait, North Sulawesi, Indonesia.

HIPPOCAMPUS PONTOHI

Also known as Pontoh's pygmy seahorse or the weedy pygmy seahorse, is a seahorse of the family Syngnathidae native to the central Indo-pacific. Named after Hence Pontoh, the Indonesian dive guide from Bunaken (Manado) who first brought these pygmy seahorses to attention. Lembeh Strait, North Sulawesi, Indonesia.

DUNCKEROCAMPUS DACTYLIOPHORUS

The banded pipefish has a straight, elongated body which reaches a maximum length of 19 cm (7.4 in). It has fleshy streams coming back from its head. These trails are thought to be mechanisms of camouflage for the pipefish whilst hiding in reeds. This one has eggs under its belly. Lembeh Strait, North Sulawesi, Indonesia

HIPPOCAMPUS KUDA

It is very difficult to take photos of seahorses as they always turn their heads away from the camera. I was very lucky this time, because I could make a head-on photo and as a bonus got both eyes looking in the camera. They can move their eyes separately in all directions and therefore I considered myself lucky to be able to make this shot. Lembeh Strait, North Sulawesi, Indonesia

HIPPOCAMPUS BARGIBANTI

Pygmy seahorse. Tiny, pinkish with large orange to red warts and spots, encircling bands on the tail. They live solitary or form small groups. Their homes are Sea fans of similar color especially Muricella spp of reefs and slopes in depths of 10-40m. They frequently adapt to the color of the host sea fan. Sabang, Puerto Galera, Mindoro Oriental, Philippines

CORYTHOICHTHYS INTESTINALIS

These scribbled pipefish are almost constantly looking for food. Their eyes move independently checking behind every piece of coral if something is hiding there. Lembeh Strait, North Sulawesi, Indonesia

SOLENOSTOMUS HALIMEDA

HIPPOCAMPUS HISTRIX

Seahorses are so shy. It takes a lot of waiting so they get used to the camera next to them. I love it when they start feeding which is when I know they are feeling comfortable. Lembeh Strait, North Sulawesi, Indonesia.

DORYHAMPHUS EXCISUS (40mm)

The small bluestriped pipefish (40mm) have a circular tail with orange fan marking on base with single spot. They are solitary or in pairs and are cleaner fish. They can be found at the ceiling of caves or under ledges in coastal, lagoon or outer reefs down to 45m. Lembeh Strait, North Sulawesi, Indonesia

SOLENOSTOMUS HALIMEDA

Halimeda ghostpipefish can reach a length of 6.5 cm (2.6 in), and is the smallest of the ghost pipefishes. Its body is most often green, but can be red or any other color of the algae or coral in which it is hiding. This cryptic species looks very similar to the macroalga Halimeda. These fish float nearly motionless, with their mouths facing downwards, around a background that makes them nearly impossible to see. They feed on tiny crustaceans, sucked inside through their long snouts. Unlike true pipefish, female Halimeda ghost pipefish carry their fertilised eggs between their pelvic fins, which are modified to form a brood pouch, until the eggs are ready to hatch. Lembeh Strait, North Sulawesi, Indonesia

SOLENOSTOMUS PARADOXUS

The ornate ghost pipefish or harlequin ghost pipefish is a false pipefish of the family Solenostomidae. The species name comes from the Greek paradoxos, referring to this fish's unusual external features. Ornate ghost pipefish are found in the Western Pacific and the Indian Ocean along reef edges prone to strong currents. They reach a maximum length of 12 cm. They vary in color from red or yellow to black and are almost transparent. They feed mostly on mysids and benthic shrimp. Females carry the eggs in their pelvic fins that are modified to form a brood pouch. Although relatively common, ornate ghost pipefish are very well-camouflaged and difficult to find. Anilao, South Luzon, Philippines

KYONEMICHTHYS RUMENGANI

Rumengani’s pipehorse is a species of pipefish native to the Pacific Ocean around Indonesia, where it is found at depths from 15 to 20 m. This species grows to a length of 2.68 cm, and is the only known member of its genus. This one, though, was found in Anilao, South Luzon, Philippines

ACENTRONURA TENTACULATA

Pygmy pipe horse. Typically found on small and sparse sea grass or algae that grow adjacent to reefs at shallow to moderate depths. Ovoviviparous. The male carries the eggs in a brood pouch, which is found under the tail. Nuweiba, Egypt

HIPPOCAMPUS PONTOHI

Tiny and thin; white with yellow to orange wash on back and crown, reddish fiilaments on back and occasionally crown. Solitary but usually in small groups, tend to move about. Lives on hydroids and algae, mimic dead leaves of Halimeda algae in 5-20m. Lembeh Strait, North Sulawesi, Indonesia.

HIPPOCAMPUS SEVERNSI

Severn’s pygmy is one of the smallest known seahorses, reaching a maximum adult size of just 1.3 cm. It is usually dark brown in color with a large red patch covering its shoulder. This species is known from Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands. Lembeh Strait, North Sulawesi, Indonesia.

SOLENOSTOMUS SP

The velvet ghost pipefishes are skin-brooding fishes related to the true pipefishes and seahorses. They are found only in the Indian and Pacific Oceans, inhabiting shallow tropical waters associated with rocky crystalline reefs and vegetation. This fish is one of the more colorful ones existing in white, baby pink and brilliant red. These colors seem gaudy out of context but in their habitat of a vibrant reef it blends in magnificently. The surface texture mimics that of the sponges with which it is usually found and the shape is also reminiscent of certain small sponges. Sabang, Puerto Galera, Mindoro Oriental, Philippines

HIPPOCAMPUS BARGIBANTI

Severn’s pygmy is one of the smallest known seahorses, reaching a maximum adult size of just 1.3 cm. It is usually dark brown in color with a large red patch covering its shoulder. This species is known from Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands. Lembeh Strait, North Sulawesi, Indonesia.

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