Crested Pipefish, Histiogamphelus briggsii McCulloch 1914

Other Names: Briggs Crested Pipefish, Brigg's Crested Pipefish, Brigg's Northern Pipefish, Brigg's Pipefish, Brigg's Southern Pipefish, Crested Pipefish, Robe Crested Pipefish, Robe Pipefish

A Crested Pipefish, Histiogamphelus briggsii, amongst seagrass leaves at Normanville, Gulf St Vincent, South Australia. Source: Graham Short. License: CC BY Attribution-Noncommercial-ShareAlike


A well-camouflaged pipefish that resembles decaying or encrusted seagrass leaves and algae. The high rounded snout ridge that only extends to the area between the eyes is distinctive.

Crested Pipefish usually live on sandy areas near rocks, seagrass or in algal beds. They also shelter amongst decaying leaves of the eelgrass Posidonia. Crested pipefishes are only found in southeastern Australia.

Cite this page as:
Vaness J. Thompson & Dianne J. Bray, Histiogamphelus briggsii in Fishes of Australia, accessed 17 Nov 2019,

Crested Pipefish, Histiogamphelus briggsii McCulloch 1914

More Info


Endemic to temperate waters of south-eastern Australia, from New South Wales, south to Victoria and Tasmania, and westwards to Gulf St Vincent.

Crested Pipefish inhabit inshore sandy areas, singly or in small aggregations, often amongst detached seaweed or along the margins of Posidonia seagrass beds and in open sandy areas at 3–20 m; most common in Bass Strait.


Meristic features: Dorsal fin 24-28; Anal fin 3-4; Pectoral fin 11-14; Caudal fin 10; Trunk rings 20-22; Tail rings 33-37; Subdorsal rings 5.50-4.00 + 2.00-3.50 = 6.75-8.25.

Body elongated, trunk shallow; head aligned with body; snout moderately long, 38-56% head length; snout depth 37-59% snout length; median dorsal snout ridge high and plate-like, rounded or emarginated; females deeper bodied than males; superior trunk and tail ridges discontinuous near rear of dorsal-fin base; lateral trunk ridge not confluent with tail ridges; tail not prehensile.

Dorsal fin centred on back with base of moderate length, closer to head than to tip of tail; anal fin tiny, below rear half of dorsal fin; caudal fin very small, rounded in sub-adults to adults, large in small juveniles; pectoral fin present.


Maximum length 25 cm


Females are mainly tan to dark brown with small, irregularly arranged, brown spots and dark-margined ocelli on side of trunk and anterior part of tail. Males are plain brown or with irregular pale streaks and blotches on side.


Carnivores, feeding on tiny mysid shrimps and other small crustaceans living on debris on sandy habitats.


Reproduction: Male Crested Pipefish brood the developing young in a brood pouch under the tail just behind the anal fin. Pouch folds are present and the pouch closure is everted. Eggs and larvae have not been described.


Of no interest to fisheries or aquaculture.


IUCN Red List: not evaluated.

EPBC Act 1999: Marine listed

Listed as protected under the New South Wales, Victorian, Tasmanian and South Australian Fisheries Management Acts


During summer, individual crested pipefish gather in large numbers in some areas off beaches in central New South Wales.

Similar Species

Crested Pipefish are most similar to Histiogamphelus cristatus, the only other member of the genus. Although both have the characteristic high snout ridge, the dorsal snout ridge of H. briggsi does not extend beyond the interorbit, and the Crested Pipefish has more tail rings (33-37) than the Rhino Pipefish (28-31).


Histiogamphelus is from the Greek istion, istos (sail) and the Greek gamphelai (jawbone), in reference to the crest on the snout.

Species Citation

Histiogamphelus briggsii McCulloch 1914, Aust. Zool. 1(1): 29-31, Wineglass Bay, east coast of Tasmania.


Vaness J. Thompson & Dianne J. Bray

Crested Pipefish, Histiogamphelus briggsii McCulloch 1914


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

Kuiter R.H. 1993. Coastal Fishes of South-eastern Australia. Crawford House Press, Bathurst 437pp.

Kuiter, R.H. 2008. Family Syngnathidae (pp. 448-479). In Gomon, M.F., D.J. Bray & R.H. Kuiter. (Eds.) Fishes of Australia's Southern Coast. New Holland Press & Museum Victoria, Melbourne, Australia, 928 pp.

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

Paxton, J.R., J.E. Gates, D.F. Hoese & D.J. Bray. 2006. Syngnathidae (Pp. 810-846). In Beesley, P.L. & Wells, A. (Eds) Zoological Catalogue of Australia. Volume 35. Fishes. ABRS & CSIRO Publishing, Australia., 3 vols.

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

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37282011

Biology:Males brood the eggs

Conservation:EPBC Act: Marine Listed

Depth:3-20 m

Habitat:Sand, seagrass, algae

Max Size:25 cm


Species Maps

CAAB distribution map