Three-keel Pipefish, Campichthys tricarinatus Dawson 1977


This small, rare, coral reef-dwelling pipefish is only known from a few female specimens.

Cite this page as:
Dianne J. Bray & Vanessa J. Thompson, Campichthys tricarinatus in Fishes of Australia, accessed 18 Jul 2024,

Three-keel Pipefish, Campichthys tricarinatus Dawson 1977

More Info


Endemic to tropical northern Australia from the Montebello Islands, WA to Thursday Island, Torres Strait, Qld; inhabits inshore coral reef and rubble areas at about 2-11 m.


Meristic features: Anal fin 3; Pectoral fin 10-11; Caudal fin 10; Trunk rings 15; Total rings 45.

Median dorsal snout ridge in 3 parts, with a low ridge behind the upper jaw followed by two well-separated knob-like projections (not a continuous elevated projection); principle trunk and tail ridges distinct; eye encircled by 5-6 large flaps; pectoral fin base with a single, well developed ridge.


To 5 cm SL


Pale in preservative; colour in life unknown.


Unknown, but likely to prey on small invertebrates, especially crustaceans.


Males brood the developing eggs in an enclosed pouch (adult males unknown). 


Campichthys tricarinatus is a listed Marine species under under s248 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act 1999 Marine Species).


No adult males have been collected.

Similar Species

Differs from other species in the genus by having a low number of trunk and total rings (15 and 45 versus 16-17 and 48-52). The snout ridge configuration is similar to that of Campichthys galei, but differs in having 10 caudal fin rays (8 in C. galei).


Campichthys is from the Greek, kampe = curvature or bent, and the Greek, ichthys = fish. The species name tricarinatus is for the tripartite, or three part snout ridge.

Species Citation

Campichthys tricarinatus Dawson 1977, Bull. Mar. Sci. 27(4): 641, fig. 14.

Type locality: Baleine Bank, northwestern Australia.


Dianne J. Bray & Vanessa J. Thompson

Three-keel Pipefish, Campichthys tricarinatus Dawson 1977


Dawson, C.E. 1977. Synopsis of syngnathine pipefishes usually referred to the genus Ichthyocampus Kaup, with description of new genera and species. Bull. Mar. Sci. 27(4): 595-650.

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

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.

Larson, H.K. & R.S. Williams. 1997. Darwin Harbour fishes: a survey and annotated checklist. In Hanley, J.R., G.Caswell, D. Megirian & H.K. Larson, (eds.), Proceedings of the Sixth International Marine Biological Workshop. The Marine Flora and Fauna of Darwin Harbour, Northern Territory, Australia. Mus. and Art. Galler. N. Terr. and Aust. Sci. Assoc. 1997: 339-380.

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

Pogonoski, 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.

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37282040

Biology:Males brood eggs

Depth:2-11 metres

Habitat:Coral reef, rubble

Max Size:To 5 cm

Native:Endemic to Australia

Species Maps

CAAB distribution map