Bonyhead Pipefish, Nannocampus subosseus Günther 1870

Other Names: Bony-headed Pipefish

Little is known of this endemic pipefish that is found in Western Australia.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2020, Nannocampus subosseus in Fishes of Australia, accessed 19 Apr 2024,

Bonyhead Pipefish, Nannocampus subosseus Günther 1870

More Info


Endemic to Western Australia, from Point Dempster, Esperance, at the western edge of the Great Australian Bight, to Shark Bay. Occurs on shallow coastal and offshore coral and rocky reefs, in a range of habitats including rockpools, ledges, seagrass beds, coral, macroalgae and sandy areas at depths to 14 m.


Dorsal fin 14-18; Trunk rings 15; Tail rings 34-36; Subdorsal rings.

Body elongated, trunk moderately shallow; head aligned with body, head length 11.3-13.2 in SL; snout short, 3.7-4.1 in HL and deep, 1.0-1.2 in snout length; dorsal margin of snout high and slightly convex in lateral profile, median dorsal snout ridge entire, low to distinctly elevated above dorsal rim of orbit, confluent with supraorbital ridges; opercular and other head ridges vestigial or obsolete; superior and inferior trunk ridges continuous with their respective tail ridges; lateral trunk ridge straight, ends near anal ring; principle body ridges entire, indistinct; scutella not keeled; without dermal flaps; tail not prehensile.

Fins: Dorsal-fin origin from anterior margin of penultimate trunk ring to posterior fourth of 1st tail ring, base not elevated; pectoral fins present or absent in subadults-adults; anal fin absent.


Maximum recorded length 100mm.


Brown to dark brown with a broad pale to white bar on side and ventral surface of snout; dorsal surface of head often pale; body with around 6 diffuse dark-margined bars crossing side and dorsal surface of body.


Unknown – likely to feed on small crustaceans.


Reproduction: Reproductive mode – ovoviviparous (gives birth to live young) with males brooding eggs in a brood pouch under the tail; pouch plates and pouch folds are present, and the pouch closure is everted. Males are likely to be brooding at 87 mm TL.

Eggs: Not described.

Larvae: Not described.


Although individuals have been taken in trawls, the species is of no interest to fisheries or aquaculture.


CITES: not listed.

IUCN Red List Status: not evaluated.

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


Very little is known of this species.

Species Citation

Nannocampus subosseus Günther 1870, Catalogue of the Fishes in the British Museum Vol. 8: 178. Type locality: Freycinet's Harbour, Western Australia


Bray, D.J. 2020


Atlas of Living Australia

Bonyhead Pipefish, Nannocampus subosseus Günther 1870


Dawson, C E. 1979. The Indo-Pacific pipefish genera Notiocampus gen. nov. and Nannocampus Günther. Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington 92(3): 482-493. See ref at BHL

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. 

Günther, A. 1870. Catalogue of the Fishes in the British Museum. Catalogue of the Physostomi, containing the families Gymnotidae, Symbranchidae, Muraenidae, Pegasidae, and of the Lophobranchii, Plectognathi, Dipnoi, [thru] Leptocardii, in the British Museum. London : British Museum Vol. 8 549 pp. See ref at BHL

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. 1994. A survey of the nearshore reef fish fauna of Western Australia's west and south coasts — The Leeuwin Province. Records of the Western Australian Museum, Supplement 46: 1-66 figs 1-6 

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

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 331 pp.

Pollom, R. 2016. Nannocampus subosseus (errata version published in 2017). The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T65372227A115430564. Downloaded on 30 September 2019.

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37282094

Biology:Males brood the eggs

Conservation:IUCN Least Concern

Depth:0-14 m

Habitat:Reef associated

Max Size:9 cm SL


Species Maps

CAAB distribution map