Whiskered Pipefish, Halicampus macrorhynchus Bamber 1915

Other Names: Longsnout Pipefish, Ornate Pipefish, Winged Pipefish

A juvenile Whiskered Pipefish, Halicampus macrorhynchus, at the Raja Ampat islands, West Papua, Indonesia. Source: Elias Levy / Flickr. License: CC by Attribution


A mottled green, yellow, red or brown pipefish with about 10 indistinct dark bars on back and sides, paired leaf-like skin flaps along the back, and many fine appendages on the head and body.

With their appendages and mottled, blotchy colour pattern, Whiskered Pipefish are very well-camouflaged on sandy, weedy and rubble reefs. Juveniles have longer skin appendages than adults.

Fabulous video of a Whiskered Pipefish (Winged Pipefish) at Ambon, Indonesia.

Cite this page as:
Thompson, Vanessa J. & Dianne J. Bray, Halicampus macrorhynchus in Fishes of Australia, accessed 21 Apr 2024, https://fishesofaustralia.net.au/home/species/1529

Whiskered Pipefish, Halicampus macrorhynchus Bamber 1915

More Info


Rowley Shoals, Western Australia, and off Lizard Island, Great Barrier Reef, Queensland. Elsewhere, the species is widespread in the tropical Indo-west Pacific. Whiskered Pipefish live on sandy, rubble and weedy areas in lagoons and coastal reefs in 3-40 m. One specimen was reportedly trawled in 180-300 m.


Dorsal-fin 18-19; Anal-fin 4; Pectoral-fin 16-19; Trunk rings 14-15; Tail rings 25-27.

Head length 4.7-5.1 in SL; snout long, slender, length 1.5-1.8 in head length; subadult-adult snout depth 9.2-16.0 in snout length; juvenile 70-100 mm SL snout depth 6.2-8.5 in snout length; median dorsal snout ridge with an irregular distribution of minute spines and short ridge-like projections; lateral snout spines present; dorsal rim of orbit elevated; opercular ridge complete; principle body ridges elevated, often with hook-like notch on distal third of each ring; dermal flaps present on head and body. Trunk and tail ridges discontinuous; inferior trunk ridge ending at anal ring; lateral trunk ridge continuous with inferior tail ridge. Numerous large wing-like dermal appendages along the body and under the snout.

Caudal fin present; pectoral-fin base strongly protruding laterally.


To 18 cm


Colour pattern varies with habitat. Individuals living on algal-rubble habitats are more colourful than those on sandy habitats; light tan to dark brown or pinkish-red with around 10 diffuse dark bars or mottling crossing dorsal surface and body sides.


Feeds on small crustaceans.


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 135 mm SL. The eggs develop in cutaneous cells protected by short, lateral folds and poorly developed protective plates.

Pelagic larvae settle at a large size, around 80 mm; juveniles around 70-100 mm SL with 8-10 pairs of large leaf-like flaps on the superior body ridges. Juveniles settle out in round-leafed seagrass beds at about 80 mm in length.


Sometimes collected for the aquarium trade.


  • EPBC Act 1999 : Marine listed
  • Remarks

    The dermal appendages provide effective camouflage for H. macrorhynchus amongst macroalgae. As they grow, young Whiskered Pipefish gradually lose the winglike appendages that extend from the body, althgough adults retain some of the tassel and whisker-like appendages on the head and body.

    Similar Species

    The long, slender snout and numerous dermal appendages of juvenile and adult forms easily separate H. macrorhynchus from other species in the genus.


    Halicampus from the Greek als, alis (salt) and kampe (bend, curvature).

    Species Citation

    Halicampus macrorhynchus Bamber 1915, J. Linn. Soc. Zool. 31: 480. Type locality: Suez, Red Sea.


    Thompson, Vanessa J. & Dianne J. Bray

    Whiskered Pipefish, Halicampus macrorhynchus Bamber 1915


    Allen, G.R. & M. Adrim. 2003. Coral reef fishes of Indonesia. Zool. Stud. 42(1): 1-72.

    Bamber, R.C. 1915. Reports on the marine biology of the Sudanese Red Sea, from collections made by Cyril Crossland, M.A., B.Sc., F.Z.S. - XXII. The fishes. J. Linn. Soc. Zool. 31: 477-485

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

    Dawson, C.E. & J.E. Randall. 1975. Notes on Indo-Pacific Pipefishes (Pisces: Syngnathidae) with description of two new species. Proc. Biol. Soc. Wash. 88(25): 263-280.

    Hoese, D.F., D.J. Bray, J.R. Paxton & G.R. Allen. 2006. Fishes. In Beesley, P.L. & A. Wells (eds). Zoological catalogue of Australia. Volume 35. ABRS & CSIRO Publishing: Australia. 2178 pp.

    Kuiter, R.H. 2000. Seahorses, Pipefishes and their Relatives. TMC Publishing, Chorleywood, UK. 240 pp. [as Halicampus sp 2]

    Nakabo, T. 2002. (ed.) Fishes of Japan with pictorial keys to the species. English edition. Tokai University Press. vol. 1, 866 pp.

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

    Pogonoski, J.J., D.A. Pollard & J.R. Paxton. 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.

    Senou, H., M. Tomari, A. Ono & K. Masubuchi. 1993. New record of an ornate pipefish, Halicampus macrorhynchus Bamber (Pisces: Syngnathidae) from Japan. I. O. P. Diving News 4(8): 4-6. [In Japanese, English abstract.]

    Quick Facts

    CAAB Code:37282067

    Biology:Males brood the eggs

    Conservation:EPBC Act: Marine Listed

    Depth:3-40 m

    Fishing:Aquarium fish

    Habitat:Reef associated

    Max Size:18 cm TL

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