Paxton's Pipefish, Corythoichthys paxtoni Dawson 1977


Once thought to be endemic to the Great Barrier Reef, Australia, Paxton's Pipefish is also found in Papua New Guinea and the Chesterfield Islands, Coral Sea.

Cite this page as:
Thompson, Vanessa J. & Dianne J. Bray, Corythoichthys paxtoni in Fishes of Australia, accessed 02 Dec 2023,

Paxton's Pipefish, Corythoichthys paxtoni Dawson 1977

More Info


Tropical South-west Pacific from Papua New Guinea, the Coral Sea and the Great Barrier Reef, Queensland, from Lizard Island to Lady Musgrave Island; inhabits inshore protected and shallow coral reefs and rubble lagoons to 1-15 m.


Meristics: D 24-29; P 14-17; Trunk rings 17-19; Tail rings 34-37.

Head and body: Head length in SL 7.1-9.5, snout length in HL 1.9-2.2, snout depth in snout length 5.3-9.2; body depth in HL 2.9-4.2. Ridges smooth or minutely granular; prenuchal and nuchal ridges smooth; superior ridges not elevated well above the dorsal surface; median snout ridge usually with slight dorsal emargination; eye prominent; distinctly indented between trunk rings, tail rings only slightly indented.

Fins: Dorsal fin origin usually at or before the anterior margin of the first tail ring.


Reaches 150 mm TL


Yellowish with a series of 12-15 dark scribbles or diffuse, reticulate bars along most of the body, distinct markings usually fading on the tail; head with indistinct diffuse dark stripes; venter of anterior trunk rings with diffuse blotches or bars in males, with small paired spots in females.


Unknown, likely to feed on copepods, small isopods and ostracods.


Reproduction: Ovoviviparous (gives birth to live young). The eggs are brooded by the males in a pouch under the tail. The pouch protects the dorsal surface and side of the egg mass, leaving the ventral surface exposed. Males may begin brooding at 83 mm TL. Males and females form monogamous pairs.

Eggs: Eggs deposited in 2-17 transverse rows within a gelatinous matrix.

Larvae: Pelagic; morphologically similar to adults.




Australian Government Legislation: Marine listed under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.

Similar Species

The modal count of 18 trunk rings, in combination with a moderate snout length and markings of anterior trunk rings, separate C. paxtoni from all other species in the genus Corythoichthys. C. intestinalis most closely resembles C. paxtoni but has distinct dark markings on the posterior tail rings that are absent in C. paxtoni.


Corythoichthys is from the Greek, korys, korythos for helmet and ichtys meaning fish. Named after Dr John R. Paxton, former Curator of Fishes, Australian Museum, Sydney.

Species Citation

Corythoichthys paxtoni Dawson 1977, Copeia 1977(2): 335, figs. 20-21. One Tree Island, Queensland.


Thompson, Vanessa J. & Dianne J. Bray

Paxton's Pipefish, Corythoichthys paxtoni Dawson 1977


Allen, G.R. & M.V. Erdmann. 2008. Corythoichthys benedetto, a new pipefish (Pisces: Syngnathidae) from Indonesia and Papua New Guinea. Aqua, International Journal of Ichthyology 13(3-4): 121-126.

Collin, H.B. & Collin, S.P. (1995) Ultrastructure and organisation of the cornea, lens and iris in the pipefish, Corythoichthys paxtoni (Syngnathidae, Teleostei). Histology and Histopathology 10: 313-323.

Collin, S.P. & Collin, H.B. (1999) The foveal photoreceptor mosaic in the pipefish, Corythoichthyes paxtoni (Syngnathidae, Teleostei). Histology and Histopathol. 14: 369-382.

Dawson, C.E. 1977. Review of the Pipefish genus Corythoichthys with description of three new species. Copeia 1977(2): 295-338

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

Gillespie, K. & Pollom, R. 2016. Corythoichthys paxtoni (errata version published in 2017). The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T65365090A115416189. Downloaded on 15 April 2020.

Gronell, A.M. 1984. Courtship, spawning and social organisation of the pipefish Corythoichthys intestinalis (Pisces : Syngnathidae) with notes on two congeneric species. Zeitshrift für Tierpsychologie 65: 1-24.

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

Kulbicki, M., J.E. Randall & J. Rivaton. 1994. Checklist of the fishes of the Chesterfield Islands (Coral Sea). Micronesica 27(1/2): 1-43.

Whiteman, E.A. & I.M. Côté. 2004. Monogamy in marine fishes. Biol. Rev. 79: 351-375.

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37282051

Habitat:Reef associated

Species Maps

CAAB distribution map