Prophet's Pipefish, Lissocampus fatiloquus (Whitley 1943)

Prophet's Pipefish, Lissocampus fatiloquus, at Woodman Point, Coogee, Western Australia, May 2020. Source: Glen Whisson / License: CC By Attribution-NonCommercial


A poorly-known yellowish-brown to dark brown pipefish, with variablly mottled whitish to pinkish bands and blotches along the body, a white blotch above the eye, a large rusty blotch on the gill cover, a brown basal blotch at the front of the dorsal fin, and a small white blotch on the pectoral-fin base. The dorsal snout profile is fairly straight, and the margin of the median dorsal snout ridge is slightly below or in line with the dorsal margin of the orbit.

Prophet's Pipefish is very well-camouflaged amongst floating Sargassum.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2021, Lissocampus fatiloquus in Fishes of Australia, accessed 02 Dec 2023,

Prophet's Pipefish, Lissocampus fatiloquus (Whitley 1943)

More Info


Endemic to western and northern Australia, from about Rockingham in the south, to the southern Bonaparte Archipelago in the Kimberley, Western Australia, and Sweers Island, Gulf of Carpentaria, Queensland. 

Inhabits sparse rocky and sand areas in association with seagrass, macroalgae, at depths to 10 m. Individuals have been found amongst floating Sargassum and Sargassum-covered rocks.


Dorsal fin 14; Anal fin 3; Pectoral fin 7-8; Trunk rings 13; Tail rings  44-47; Total rings 57-60; Subdorsal rings 1.25-2.00 + 1.00-1.75 = 2.75-3.25.

Body very elongate, trunk shallow, head aligned with body, dorsum of head straight to slightly elevated behind eye, without crest or ridges; snout short, dorsal profile almost straight; snout ridge straight, relatively high, margin snout ridge slightly below, or in line with dorsal margin of orbit; opercle without longitudinal ridge but lined with minute radiating striae. Brood pouch on tail.

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 much closer to head than to tip of tail, with short base; anal fin tiny, generally below rear half of dorsal fin; caudal fin small, rounded; pectoral fin present.


A small species, reaching just over 100 mm in length.


In preservative: traces of a brown bar or blotch persist on the anterior third of dorsal fin; paired brownish spots on the lateral and inferior ridges of most trunk rings; a series of about 20 ill-defined brownish bands between the head and the caudal fin, dorsum rather pale.


Presumably feeds on small crustaceans sucked in through the snout.


Males incubate the eggs in an enclosed pouch on underside of the tail just behind anal fin; pouch plates absent, poorly developed pouch folds present.


Very occasionally taken in trawls and dredges.


Marine listed under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act).


Whitley's reason for naming the species falitoquus (= prophetic) is unknown.

Species Citation

Campichthys fatiloquus Whitley 1943, Aust. Zool. 10(2): 176, Fig. 7. Type locality: Shark's Bay, Western Australia.


Bray, D.J. 2021


Atlas of Living Australia

Prophet's Pipefish, Lissocampus fatiloquus (Whitley 1943)


Dawson, C.E. 1977. Review of the Indo-Pacific pipefish genus Lissocampus (Syngnathidae). Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington 89(53): 599–620 figs 1–7 See ref at BHL

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

Hamilton, H., Saarman, N., Short, G., Sellas, A.B., Moore, B., Hoang, T., Grace, T.C.L., Gomon, M., Crow, K. & Simison, W.B. 2016. Molecular phylogeny and patterns of diversification in syngnathid fishes. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 107: 388-403 + supplement 1-4 + 5.

Hoschke, A., Whisson, G. & Moore, G.I. 2019. Complete list of fishes from Rottnest Island. pp. 150-161 in Whisson, G. & Hoschke, A. (eds) The Rottnest Island fish book. 2nd ed. Perth : Aqua Research and Monitoring Services.

Hutchins, J.B. 1997. Checklist of fishes of the Houtman Abrolhos Islands, Western Australia, pp 239-253. In Wells, F.E. (ed.) The Marine Flora and Fauna of the Houtman Abrolhos Islands, Western Australia. Western Australian Museum, Perth.

Johnson, J.W. & Gill, A.C. 2005. Reef and shore fishes of Sweers Island, Gulf of Carpentaria. Gulf of Carpentaria Scientific Study Report. Geography Monograph Series. Brisbane: Royal Geographic Society of Queensland. pp. 239-260

Kendrick, A.J. & Hyndes, G.A. 2005. Variations in the dietary compositions of morphologically diverse syngnathid fishes. Environmental Biology of Fishes 72: 415-427.

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 pp. 331.

Moore, G.I., Morrison, S.M. & Johnson, J.W. 2020. The distribution of shallow marine fishes of the Kimberley, Western Australia, based on a long-term dataset and multiple methods. Records of the Western Australian Museum Supplement 85: 105-115 + Appendix Tab. 1.

Pollom, R. & Qian, Y. 2016. Lissocampus fatiloquus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T65370087A67619013. Downloaded on 30 January 2019.

Whitley, G.P. 1943. Ichthyological notes and illustrations. Part 2. The Australian Zoologist 10(2): 167-187 figs 1-10 See ref at BHL

Whitley, G.P. & Allan, J. 1958. The Sea-horse and its relatives. Melbourne : Georgian House 84 pp. 25 figs.

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37282084

Biology:Males brood the eggs

Conservation:IUCN Least Concern; EPBC Act Marine Listed

Depth:0-10 m

Habitat:Reef associated

Max Size:10 cm TL


Species Maps

CAAB distribution map