Halimeda Ghostpipefish, Solenostomus halimeda Orr, Fritzsche & Randall 2002

Other Names: Algae Ghostpipefish, Coralline Ghostpipefish

A Halimeda Ghostpipefish, Solenostomus halimeda, at Sorong Island, West Papua, Indonesia. Source: Elias Levy / Flickr. License: CC by Attribution


A lime-green to greenish (or occasionally reddish) ghost pipefish often with whitish and greyish patches, mottling, dark lines and scattered dark spots. As the common name implies, this species resembles the alga Halimeda or coralline algae.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. & Thompson, V.J. 2020, Solenostomus halimeda in Fishes of Australia, accessed 22 Feb 2024, https://fishesofaustralia.net.au/home/species/1514

Halimeda Ghostpipefish, Solenostomus halimeda Orr, Fritzsche & Randall 2002

More Info


Known from the tropical Indo-west-central Pacific, including the Maldives, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Micronesia (Marshall Islands), Fiji and Rowley Shoals off northwest Australia. The Halimeda Ghostpipefish is usually seen near Halimeda algal beds in sheltered inshore areas and coral reefs to 23 m.


Dorsal fin V + 16-18; anal fin 17-19; pectoral fin 22-25; pelvic fin I, 6; caudal fin 16; vertebrae 32.

Head and body elongate, laterally compressed, encased in a series of bony plates; snout, long, tubular snout; olfactory rosette sexually dimorphic, females with small dorsal patch of 3-5 lamellae, males with larger patch with 15 lamellae; caudal peduncle short; abdominal spinules few to numerous; cutaneous papillae always present at midpoint of snout.

Two widely separate dorsal fins, the first spinous and elongate, second rounded and composed of unbranched rays; pelvic fins expanded and elongate, united to form a brood pouch in females; caudal fin short, truncate or slightly rounded; fin membranes entire.


To 7 cm; females are larger than males.


Usually greyish or green in colour, usually resembling the coralline alga Halimeda, often with darker speckling and white mottling; dermal papillae red; dark blotches often present on each interspinal membrane between 1st and 3rd dorsal fin spines. Halimeda Ghostpipefish are able to change colour to match their surroundings.


Feed on tiny crustaceans, especially mysids, which are rapidly sucked in through the long tubular snout. Ghostpipefish are ambush predators, and stealthily appraoch their prey in a head-down position.


Females brood their eggs in a special pouch (marsupium) formed from the united pelvic fins. The well-developed larvae hatch at approximately 3 mm with pigmented eyes, a fully formed mouth and advanced body spination.


Although of interest to aquarists, ghost pipefish are very difficult to maintain in captivity.


Marine Listed under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) http://www.environment.gov.au/coasts/species/marine-species-list.html

Similar Species

Solenostomus halimeda is most similar to S. cyanopterus, differing in having a more slender snout, abdominal prickles, and in lacking a premaxillary spine in males.


Solenostomus is from the Greek soleno, meaning tubelike, and stoma, meaning mouth. The species is named halimeda due to its close resemblance to the marine alga Halimeda.

Species Citation

Solenostomus halimeda Orr, Fritzsche & Randall 2002, Aqua, J. Ichthyol. Aquat. Biol. 5(3): 101, Figs. 1-6. Type locality: Mermaid Reef, Central Lagoon, Rowley Shoals, Western Australia, 17°06'S, 119°37'E.


Bray, D.J. & Thompson, V.J. 2020


Atlas of Living Australia

Australian Faunal Directory
Catalog of Fishes

Halimeda Ghostpipefish, Solenostomus halimeda Orr, Fritzsche & Randall 2002


Dick, K. & Pollom, R. 2016. Solenostomus halimeda (errata version published in 2017). The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T65363378A115408656. https://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-3.RLTS.T65363378A67621188.en. Downloaded on 13 June 2020.

Fritzsche R.A. & Thiesfeld K.G. (1999) Family Solenostomidae. p. 2263 In Carpenter K.E. & Niem V.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

Hoese DF, Bray DJ, Paxton JR & Allen GR (2006) Fishes. In Beesley PL & Wells A (eds) Zoological catalogue of Australia. Volume 35 ABRS & CSIRO Publishing: Australia Part 1, pp xxiv 1-670; Part 2, pp xxi 671-1472; Part 3 pp xxi 1473-2178

Kuiter, R.H. 2009. Seahorses and their relatives. Aquatic Photographics, Seaford, Australia. 333 pp.

Orr J.W. & Pietsch T.W. (1994) Pipefishes and their allies. In Paxton J.R. & Eschmeyer W.N. (eds.) Encyclopedia of Fishes. University of New South Wales Press, Sydney.

Orr J.W., Fitzsche R.A. & Randall J.E. (2002) Solenostomus halimeda, a new species of ghost pipefish (Teleostei: Gasterosteiformes) from the Indo-Pacific, with a revised key to the known species of the Family Solenostomidae. Aqua International Journal of Ichthyology. 5(3): 99-108. PDF

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. Canberra Environment Australia 375 pp.

Trnski T. & Leis J.M. 2000. Solenostomidae (Ghost Pipefishes) In Leis J.M. and Carson-Ewart B.M. (eds) The Larvae of Indo-Pacific Coastal Fishes: An identification guide to marine fish larvae. Brill, The Netherlands.

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37281003

Biology:Female brood pouch

Conservation:IUCN Data Deficient

Depth:to 23 m

Habitat:Reef associated

Max Size:6.4 cm TL

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