Black Rock Pipefish, Phoxocampus belcheri (Kaup 1856)

Other Names: Rock Pipefish

A Black Rock Pipefish, Phoxocampus belcheri, in Fiji. Source: John E. Randall / FishBase. License: CC by Attribution-NonCommercial

Cite this page as:
Dianne J. Bray, Phoxocampus belcheri in Fishes of Australia, accessed 04 Dec 2022,

Black Rock Pipefish, Phoxocampus belcheri (Kaup 1856)

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Widespread in the tropical Indo-West Pacific from the Red Sea and east and South Africa, Madagascar and the Seychelles, eastwards to Fiji and Tonga, north to China, Taiwan, southern  Japan, south to Western Australia and New Caledonia; known in Australian waters from the Monte Bello Islands, Western Australia. Inhabits tidepools and shallow intertidal reefs, usually among coral rubble.


Dorsal fin 20-24; Anal fin 3-4; Pectoral fin 11-13; Rings 16-17 + 29-32.

Body slender, elongate, encased in a series of bony rings. Superior and inferior trunk ridges continuous with their respective tail ridges; lateral trunk ridge not deflected near anal ring, ends on 1st-5th tail ring. Median dorsal snout ridge entire or with low emarginations, without knob-like elevations or spines; longitudinal opercular ridge incomplete, angled dorsally; simple dermal flaps usually present on eye and elsewhere on head and body.


A small species, possibly reaching 80 mm.


Overall tan to dark brown, infrequently pale, dorsal surface sometimes with indications of 10-11 diffuse pale bars; lower part of side and ventral surface of trunk often with indications of dark bars between rings.


Unknown - likely to feed on small crustaceans.


Eggs are brooded by the males on the underside of  the tail. Males may be brooding at 48 mm SL, and the brood pouch of a 66 mm SL male contained 58 eggs.


Of no interest to fisheries; occasionally collected for the aquarium trade.


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

Species Citation

Ichthyocampus belcheri Kaup 1856, Catalogue of lophobranchiate fish in the collection of the British Museum:30, Pl. 5 (fig. 39), China


Dianne J. Bray

Black Rock Pipefish, Phoxocampus belcheri (Kaup 1856)


Allen, G.R. 1996. New records of reef and shore fishes from northwestern Australia. Records of the Western Australian Museum 18: 109-112.

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). Gulf Coast Research Laboratory, Ocean Springs, Mississippi, USA, 230pp.

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.

Kaup, J.J. 1856. Catalogue of lophobranchiate fish in the collection of the British Museum. London. Catalogue of lophobranchiate fish in the collection of the British Museum.: i-iv + 1-76, Pls. 1-4.

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

Paxton, J.R., J.E. Gates, D.F. Hoese & D.J. Bray. 2006. Syngnathidae (Pp. 810–846). In  Beesley, P.L. & Wells, A. (Eds) Zoological Catalogue of Australia. Volume 35. Fishes. ABRS & CSIRO Publishing, Australia., 3 vols.

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37282109

Biology:Male broods the eggs

Conservation:EPBC Act Marine Listed

Depth:0-25 m

Habitat:Reef associated

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