Samoan Pipefish, Halicampus mataafae (Jordan & Seale 1906)

Other Names: Brown Pipefish

A Samoan Pipefish, Halicampus mataafae, in Lembeh Strait, Sulawesi, Indonesia, June 2006. Source: @fishx6 / License: CC by Attribution-ShareAlike


Samoan Pipefish are a mottled dark-brown with a series of narrow pale saddles along the back, a very short snout and a tiny tail. This solitary species lives in crevices and under rocks and rubble on shallow reefs.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. & Thompson, V.J. 2018, Halicampus mataafae in Fishes of Australia, accessed 02 Dec 2023,

Samoan Pipefish, Halicampus mataafae (Jordan & Seale 1906)

More Info


Northenr Great Barrier Reef and reefs in the Coral Sea. Elsewhere the species is widespread in the tropical Indo-west Pacific, from the Red Sea and East Africa, across the Indian Ocean to Tonga and Samoa, north to Taiwan, south to northern Australia.

Found in crevices, under rocks and rubble on shallow coastal, lagoon and outer reefs in depths to 15 m.


Dorsal fin 21-26; Anal fin usually 3; Pectoral fin 12-14; Trunk rings 15; Tail rings 34-36.

Body long, head short, head length 10.2-13.0 in SL; snout short, length 2.5-4.0 in head length; median dorsal snout ridge discontinuous with 2-3 semi-isolated spines or ridge-like crests; usually with 2 lateral snout spines; dorsal rim of orbit not strongly elevated; spines lacking on postorbital or posterior supraorbital regions; opercular ridge incomplete in subadults-adults.

Pectoral fin base protruding laterally; caudal fin small, about length of eye.


To 15 cm


Mainly mottled reddish to brown, often with two series of small pale spots on trunk and one on tail.


Preys on small crustaceans


Oviparous: males brood the eggs in a semi-exposed pouch under the trunk. The pouch folds fall well short of the midline of the egg-filled pouch. Males may begin brooding at 92 mm SL.




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


The ornamentation of the median dorsal snout ridge increases with age. Juveniles (25-50 mm SL) have two spine-like projections on the snout, while larger individuals (larger than 60-70 mm) have 2-3 spiny ridges. Individuals from different geographic locations are variable and H. mataafae may comprises a species-complex.

Similar Species

H. mataafae is superficially similar to H. spinirostris, differing in having a modal count of 15 versus 14 trunk rings and fewer lateral snout spines. In addition H. spinirostris has posterior supraopecular spines and notched superior ridges that are lacking in H. mataafae.


Halicampus is from the Greek, als, alis for salt and the Greek, kampe meaning bend.

Species Citation

Corythoichthys mataafae Jordan & Seale 1906, Bull. Bur. Fish. (U.S.) for 1905 25: 213, Fig. 19. Type locality: Coral reefs off Mulinu'u, Upolu Island, Samoa.


Bray, D.J. & Thompson, V.J. 2018


Australian Faunal Directory

Samoan Pipefish, Halicampus mataafae (Jordan & Seale 1906)


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

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

Dawson, C.E. 1986. Family No. 145: Syngnathidae (pp. 445-458). In Smith, M.M. & P.C. Heemstra. Smiths' Sea Fishes. Macmillan South Africa, Johannesburg. 1047 pp, 144 pls.

Duncker, G. 1915. Revision der Syngnathidae. Mitteilungen aus dem Naturhistorischen Museum in Hamburg 32: 9-120 1 pl. (as Micrognathus mataafae)

Fricke, R. 2004. Review of the pipefishes and seahorses (Teleostei: Syngnathidae) of New Caledonia, with descriptions of five new species. Stuttgarter Beitr├Ąge zur Naturkunde. Serie A (Biologie). 66S: 1-66.

Jordan, D.S. & Seale, A. 1906. The fishes of Samoa. Description of the species found in the Archipelago, with a provisional checklist of the fishes of Oceania. Bulletin of the Bureau of Fisheries (U.S.) for 1905 25: 173-455 figs 1-111 pls 3

Kuiter, R.H. 2000. Seahorses, Pipefishes and Their Relatives. Chorleywood, UK : TMC Publishing 240 pp. (as Halicampus sp 2).

Kuiter, R.H. 2009. Seahorses and their relatives. Seaford, Australia : Aquatic Photographics 331 pp.

Kuiter, R.H. & T. Tonozuka. 2001. Pictorial guide to Indonesian reef fishes. Part 1. Eels- Snappers, Muraenidae - Lutjanidae. Zoonetics, Australia. 302 pp.

Kuo, T. & Pollom, R. 2016. Halicampus mataafae (errata version published in 2017). The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T65367712A115423121. Downloaded on 22 May 2018.

Myers, R.F. 1999. Micronesian reef fishes. A comprehensive guide to the coral reef fishes of Micronesia. 3rd revised ed. Coral Graphics, Guam. 330 pp, 192 pls.

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

Pogonoski, J.J., Pollard, D.A. & Paxton, J.R. 2002. Conservation Overview and Action Plan for Australian Threatened and Potentially Threatened Marine and Estuarine Fishes, Environment Australia, Canberra. 375 pp.

Randall, J.E. 2005. Reef and shore fishes of the South Pacific. New Caledonia to Tahiti and the Pitcairn Islands. 707 pp.

Randall, J.E., Allen, G.R. & R.C. Steene. 1997. Fishes of the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea. Crawford House Press. Bathurst. 557 pp.

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37282068

Biology:Males brood the eggs

Conservation:IUCN Least Concern; EPBC Act Marine Listed

Depth:1-15 m

Habitat:Reef associated

Max Size:15 cm TL

Species Image Gallery

Species Maps

CAAB distribution map