Softcoral Pipefish, Siokunichthys breviceps Smith 1963

Other Names: Soft-coral Pipefish

A Softcoral Pipefish, Siokunichthys breviceps, at Ambon, Indonesia. Source: Andrey Ryanskiy / FishBase. License: CC by Attribution-NonCommercial

A small secretive pipefish with a slender worm-like body. Softcoral Pipefish in the Western Pacific are pale whitish, greyish or greenish-blue with irregular brownish bands along the body.
Fabulous video of Softcoral Pipefish at Ambon, Indonesia, including a male brooding eggs.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. & Thompson, V.J. 2018, Siokunichthys breviceps in Fishes of Australia, accessed 15 Apr 2024,

Softcoral Pipefish, Siokunichthys breviceps Smith 1963

More Info


Great Barrier Reef, Queensland. Elsewherre the species is widespread in the tropical Indo-West Pacific, from Mozambique and Kenya through Indonesia and the Philippines to Queensland, Australia.

Usually occurs amongst colonies of the soft coral Sinularia, although individuals have also been seen amongst coral rubble. Juveniles have been taken near the surface.


Dorsal fin 27–33; Pectoral fin 11–13; trunk rings modally 13; tail rings 56–60; total subdorsal rings 7.0–9.0.

Body elongate, almost thread-like; short snout, 2.3–4.0 in head length; snout depth less than length, 1.2–3.4 in snout length; median dorsal snout ridge low, usually inconspicuous, entire; opercle without ridges or striae; superior trunk and tail ridges continuous; inferior trunk ridge ends at anal ring; lateral trunk ridge runs into inferior tail ridge; principle body ridges low, indistinct; scutella inconspicuous, without keels or dermal flaps.

Dorsal fin origin on 2.5–4.5 tail rings; pectoral fin base without ridges; anal fin absent.


To  about 15 cm SL.


Greenish-blue with a pale brownish band on each ring. Individuals from the Western Indian Ocean are a uniform pale cream in colour.


Likely to feed on very small crustaceans.


Males carry the developing eggs in a semi-enclosed brood pouch under the tail; pouch plates are absent, pouch folds are present. Males may be brooding at 7 cm SL.


Of no interest to fisheries and not collected for the aquarium industry.


EPBC Act 1999: Marine listed

IUCN Red List: Data Deficient (2018).


Softcoral Pipefish in the Western Pacific are banded, while those from the Western Indian Ocean are a uniform cream colour. This may indicate that the Softcoral Pipefish is in fact a complex of more than one species.

Species Citation

Siokunichthys breviceps Smith, 1963, Ichthyol. Bull. J.L.B. Smith Inst. 27: 525, pl. 80 (figs.j-m). Type locality: Pinda, Madagascar. 


Bray, D.J. & Thompson, V.J. 2018


Australian Faunal Directory

Softcoral Pipefish, Siokunichthys breviceps Smith 1963


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

Carlyle, C. & Pollom, R. 2016. Siokunichthys breviceps. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T65374110A67624220. Downloaded on 30 June 2018.

Dawson, C.E. 1983. Synopsis of the Indo-Pacific pipefish genus Siokunichthys (Syngnathidae), with description of S. nigrolineatus n. sp. Pacific Science 37(1): 49-63 figs 1-6 Open access

Dawson, C.E. 1985. Indo-Pacific Pipefishes (Red Sea to the Americas). Ocean Springs (Mississippi) : Gulf Coast Research Laboratory 230 pp. 293 figs pl. 1.

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

Kuiter, R.H. 2009. Seahorses and their relatives. Seaford, Australia : Aquatic Photographics 331 pp.

Kuiter, R.H. & Tonozuka, T. 2001. Indonesian Reef Fishes. Part 1. Eels- Snappers, Muraenidae - Lutjanidae. Australia : Zoonetics pp. 1-302.

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

Pognoski, 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.

Smith, J.L.B. 1963. Fishes of the family Syngnathidae from the Red Sea and the western Indian Ocean. Ichthyological Bulletin of the J.L.B. Smith Institute, Grahamstown 27: 515-543 figs 1-19 pls 75-82

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37282097

Biology:Males brood the eggs

Conservation:IUCN Data Deficient; EPBC Act Marine Listed

Depth:3-12 m

Habitat:Reef associated, soft corals

Max Size:15 cm SL

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Species Maps

CAAB distribution map