Shortpouch Pygmy Pipehorse, Acentronura breviperula Fraser-Brunner & Whitley 1949

Other Names: Dwarf Pipehorse, Northern Little Pipehorse, Short-pouch Pygmy Pipehorse

A Shortpouch Pygmy Pipehorse, Acentronura breviperula, at Dauin, Negros Island, Philippines, March 2018. Source: Klaus Stiefel / Flickr. License: CC By Attribution-NonCommercial


This small, drab-coloured pipehorse is very well camouflaged in sandy and silty environments. Although it has a prehensile tail like a seahorse, the Shortpouch Pygmy Pipehorse lacks an angled head and swims horizontally.

Cite this page as:
Dianne J. Bray & Vanessa J. Thompson, Acentronura breviperula in Fishes of Australia, accessed 25 May 2024,

Shortpouch Pygmy Pipehorse, Acentronura breviperula Fraser-Brunner & Whitley 1949

More Info


Known from the tropical Indo-West Pacific, from East Africa, Madagascar, the Red Sea, Persian Gulf to Torres Strait and the northern Great Barrier Reef, Australia. The Shortpouch Pygmy Pipehorse lives near reefs, in shallow protected coastal areas. It is usually found in sandy or silty areas among sparse seagrass beds and algae covered rocks at 1-20 m.


Meristic features: Dorsal fin 14-16; Pectoral fin 14-16; Total rings 51-56; Trunk rings 12; Tail rings 39-44.

Head and body: The head is in line with body rather than being bent at an angle like a seahorse. The frontal and orbital ridges are somewhat elevated. The trunk is deep and the tail prehensile like a seahorse.
The body in adults usually has many long dermal flaps and tentacles.

Fins: Caudal fin absent.


To 6.3 cm


Variable in coloration and often a mottled dark greenish brown with blackish dermal flaps.


Carnivore - feeds on small invertebrates.


The sexes are separate, and individuals are usually seen in pairs, and may form a monogamous relationship. Males brood the developing eggs in an enclosed pouch on the underside of the body.


Of no interest to fisheries.


Australian Government EPBC Act 1999: Acentronura tentaculata is a listed Marine species under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act 1999 Marine Species).


The Shortpouch Pygmy Pipehorse was previously called Acentronura tentaculata in Australia, however, A. tentaculata is endemic to the Red Sea, and A. breviperula is the correct name for the Australian species (Kuiter, 2000).

Similar Species

The Shortpouch Pygmy Pipehorse is the only species in the genus Acentronura.


Acentronura is from the Greek a (without), kentron (sting) and oura (tail). The specific name tentaculata is from the Latin tentaculum (feeler, holdfast) in reference to the long dermal tentacles.

Species Citation

Acentronura breviperula Fraser-Brunner & Whitley 1949, Rec. Aust. Mus. 22(2) :148, Fig. 1

Type locality: Mabuiag, Torres Strait, Queensland, Australia.


Dianne J. Bray & Vanessa J. Thompson

Shortpouch Pygmy Pipehorse, Acentronura breviperula Fraser-Brunner & Whitley 1949


Bathurst : Crawford House Press 557 pp. figs [499] (as A. tentaculata)

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37282035

Biology:Males brood eggs

Conservation:EPBC Act Marine Listed

Depth:2-40 metres

Habitat:Coral reef, seagrass

Max Size:To 6.3 cm

Species Image Gallery

Species Maps

CAAB distribution map