Paleblotched Pipefish, Phoxocampus diacanthus (Schultz 1943)

Other Names: Pale-blotched Pipefish, Twospine Pipefish
A whitish to greyish-brown pipefish with 8-10 indistinct brown bars along the trunk and tail, followed by an intense white patch before the tail, dark brown bands radiating from the eye, a white blotch on the pectoral-fin base, two small white spots on the gill cover, two small white spots below the pectoral-fin base on the lower ridge, and a dark brown caudal fin flecked with white on the lower third and a whitish outer margin. 

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2020, Phoxocampus diacanthus in Fishes of Australia, accessed 26 Sep 2023,

Paleblotched Pipefish, Phoxocampus diacanthus (Schultz 1943)

More Info


Far northern Great Barrier Reef and reefs in the Coral Sea, to North Stradbroke Island, Queensland. Elsewhere the species occurs in the tropical east-Indo-west-Pacific. 

Inhabits protected coral rubble and rocky reefs at depths to 40 m.


Dorsal fin 20-24; Pectoral fin 13-15; Trunk and tail rings 15-16 + 25-27 = 41-43; Subdorsal rings l.5-2.5 + 2.75-4.0 = 4.5-6.0; Caudal fin 10.
Superior and inferior trunk ridges continuous with respective tail ridges; lateral trunk ridge ends midlaterally on last trunk ring or first tail ring; opercular ridge incomplete in adults; snout length 2.2-2.6 in head length; snout depth 2.4-2.9 in snout length; head length 6.4-7.9 in SL.
Head ridges usually prominent in subadults and adults; dorsal rim of orbit often expanded laterally and frontal ridge usually somewhat elevated; opercular ridge usually terminates on anterior 2/3 of opercle.


Reaches at least 90 mm.


pale to near white with few brown markings; brown to dark brown with pale to near white markings. Pale fish with brown shading on venter and side of snout, suborbital and lower half of opercle; venter of trunk plain brownish or mottled, occasionally with indication of diffuse brown bars on each ring; dorsum of body plain or with 8-9 small brown blotches between head and caudal-fin base; body otherwise pale or with a few indistinct brown flecks or spots; fins hyaline. Dark specimens with snout pale to white anteriad, dorsum of head pale to mottled brown, side of head mainly brown with irregular scattering of white flecks or spots; dorsum of body and upper third or half of side crossed by 8-9 narrow, diffuse, pale bars between head and caudal-fin base, the last usually circling tail as a pale band; sides usually with pale spot on inferior ridge opposite pale bars dorsad, spots somewhat elongate on brood pouch folds; pectoral-fin base with pale blotch, side elsewhere plain, streaked or mottled; dorsal and pectoral fins hyaline or rays narrowly margined with brown streaks; caudal fin brown with pale or white margin. 


Likely to feed on small crustaceans.


Males brood the eggs in a pouch on the underside of the tail.


Of no interest to fisheries or aquaculture.


CITES: not listed.

Australian Commonwealth legislation: Marine listed under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act).


Bray, D.J. 2020


Atlas of Living Australia

Paleblotched Pipefish, Phoxocampus diacanthus (Schultz 1943)


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

Aylesworth, L. & Pollom, R. 2016. Phoxocampus diacanthus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T65372732A67624190. Downloaded on 13 July 2020.

Dawson, C.E. 1977. Synopsis of Syngnathine pipefishes usually referred to the genus Ichthyocampus Kaup, with description of new genera and species. Bulletin of Marine Science 27(4); 595-650.

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.

Fricke, R. 2004 Review of the pipefishes and seahorses (Teleostei: Syngnathidae) of New Caledonia, with descriptions of five new species. Stuttgarter Beitr. Naturkd., Ser. A Nr. 668:1-67.

Hamilton, H., Saarman, N., Short, G., Sellas, A.B., Moore, B., Hoang, T., Grace, 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.

Johnson, J.W. 2010. Fishes of the Moreton Bay Marine Park and adjacent continental shelf waters, Queensland, Australia. pp. 299-353 in Davie, P.J.F. & Phillips, J.A. Proceedings of the Thirteenth International Marine Biological Workshop, The Marine Fauna and Flora of Moreton Bay. Memoirs of the Queensland Museum 54(3) 

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

Kuiter, R.H. 2009. Seahorses and their relatives. Aquatic Photographics, Seaford, Australia. Pp. 1–333.

Myers, R.F. 1999. Micronesian Reef Fishes. A Comprehensive Guide to the Coral Reef Fishes of Micronesia. Third Revised edition. Coral Graphics, Guam. USA. 330pp.

Senou, H., Kato, S. & Furuse, K. 1998. First record of the pipefish Phoxocampus diacanthus from Japan. I.O.P. Diving News 9(1): 4-7.

Schultz, L.P. 1943. Fishes of the Phoenix and Samoan islands collected in 1939 during the expedition of the U. S. S. "Bushnell." Bulletin of the United States National Museum 180: i-x + 1-316, Pls. 1-9. See ref at BHL

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37282096

Conservation:IUCN Least Concern

Depth:5-40 m

Habitat:Reef associated

Max Size:9 cm SL

Species Maps

CAAB distribution map