Javelin Pipefish, Lissocampus runa (Whitley 1931)

Other Names: West Australian Smooth Pipefish

A Javelin Pipefish, Lissocampus runa, in Clovelly Pool, Sydney, New South Wales, January 2016. Source: Sylke Rohrlach / Flickr. License: CC by Attribution-ShareAlike


A slender pipefish with the tail much longer than the trunk, and a distinctly concave snout. Javelin Pipefish vary in colour from plain to a mottled brown, reddish, green, yellow or whitish, with or without bars on the sides and a brown blotch on the front of the dorsal fin. Males are usually whitish to bluish with a bright red gill cover.

Cite this page as:
Dianne J. Bray & Vanessa Thompson, Lissocampus runa in Fishes of Australia, accessed 20 Jan 2019, http://fishesofaustralia.net.au/home/species/3112

Javelin Pipefish, Lissocampus runa (Whitley 1931)

More Info


Endemic to temperate waters of southern and eastern Australia; known from southern Queensland, southwards to Tasmania, and west to about Rottnest Island, Western Australia. Usually inhabits tidepools and sheltered bays, usually in seagrass and algal beds, and rocky and shelly rubble bottoms in depths to about 20 m.


Dorsal fin 13–15; Anal fin 3–4; Pectoral fin 6–7; Caudal fin 10; Trunk rings 13–14; Tail rings 45–49; Subdorsal rings 2.25–1.50 + 0.50–1.25 = 2.25–3.00.

Head and body encased in bony rings. Body very elongate, trunk shallow, head aligned with body; snout short, snout length 29–36% HL, snout depth 50–84% snout length, dorsal margin of snout distinctly concave, falling well below dorsal rim of eye; opercle without longitudinal ridge; body ridges indistinct; superior trunk and tail ridges continuous; inferior trunk and tail ridges discontinuous near anal ring; lateral tail ridge apparently not confluent with tail ridges; tail not prehensile; dermal flaps present on head and body.

Dorsal fin short-based, originating on trunk, much closer to head than tip of tail; anal fin tiny, generally below rear half of dorsal fin; caudal fin small, rounded.


Maximum length 112 mm SL.


The species is very well-camouflaged and variable in coloration, and males and females differ. Although it is usually plain, individuals may have dark bars on the side of the body, and the dorsal fin often has a brown anterior blotch. Females range from dark tan or green, to yellow or whitish. Males are usually whitish to bright blue with dark bars along the side, and a bright red opercle.


Unknown, likely to feed on very small crustaceans.


Sexes separate; eggs incubated by males in an enclosed pouch on the underside of the body just anterior to the anal fin; pouch plates absent, pouch folds present.


Although the Javelin Pipefish is occasionally taken as bycatch in commercial trawls and dredges, it is of no interest to fisheries or aquaculture.


Marine listed under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 and are subject to the export controls of the Commonwealth Wildlife Protection (Regulation of Exports and Imports) Act 1982.

Protected under the New South Wales, Victorian, Tasmanian and South Australian Fisheries Management Acts.


The Javelin Pipefish is common in some shallow sheltered bays.

Similar Species

Lissocampus caudalis differs from Lissocampus runa in having a straight dorsal snout profile (vs a concave snout) and 51–60 tail rings, distinguishing it from all other species in the genus.


Lissocampus from the Greek lissos meaning smooth and kampe meaning sea animal. The species name is from the Latin runa, meaning dart or javelin.

Species Citation

Festucalix (Campichthys) runa Whitley 1931, Aust. Zool. 6(4): 313, Long Bay, Sydney, New South Wales.


Dianne J. Bray & Vanessa Thompson

Javelin Pipefish, Lissocampus runa (Whitley 1931)


Allen G.R. 1997. Marine Fishes of tropical Australia and South-east Asia: A field Guide for Anglers and Divers. Western Australia Western Australian Museum, 292 pp.

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

Kuiter, R.H. 2000. Coastal fishes of south-eastern Australia. Gary Allen. Pp. 437.

Kuiter, R.H. 2008. Syngnathidae. In Gomon, M.F., D.J. Bray & R.H. Kuiter (eds.). The Fishes of Australia's southern coast. New Holland Publishers, Chatswood, Australia.

Kuiter, R.H. 2009. Seahorses and their relatives. Aquatic Photographics, Seaford, Australia.

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

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

Whitley, G.P. 1931. New names for Australian fishes. Aust. Zool. 6(4): 310-334, Pls. 25-27.

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37282009

Biology:Males brood the eggs

Conservation:EPBC Act Marine Listed

Depth:1-20 m

Habitat:Reef associated, algae & seagrass

Max Size:11 cm TL

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Species Maps

CAAB distribution map