Deepbody Pipefish, Kaupus costatus (Waite & Hale 1921)

Other Names: Deep-bodied Pipefish, Deep-body Pipefish

A Deepbody Pipefish, Kaupus costatus, at Port Broughton, Yorke Peninsula, South Australia. Source: David Muirhead / Marine Life Society of South Australia (MLSSA) via ALA. License: CC BY Attribution-Noncommercial-ShareAlike


A reddish to reddish-brown pipefish with tiny blue, yellow and white dots on the back, and  fine wavy lines on the head and tail. The deep-bodied females have bluish streaks, bars and small ocelli above the lateral trunk ridge, and prominent blue markings on each trunk ring below the lateral ridge.

Cite this page as:
Thompson, Vanessa J. & Dianne J. Bray, Kaupus costatus in Fishes of Australia, accessed 27 Oct 2021,

Deepbody Pipefish, Kaupus costatus (Waite & Hale 1921)

More Info


Endemic southern Australia from Bass Strait to the Great Australian Bight, South Australia. Inhabits sheltered intertidal areas with algae and seagrass, especially Zostera, to 10 m.


Dorsal fin 30-36; Anal fin 3-4; Pectoral fin 9-11; Causal fin 7-10 (usually 9-10);Trunk rings 16-18; Tail rings 35-38; Subdorsal rings 5.75-4.25 + 2.50-4.50 = 8.00-9.25.

Body very elongate, trunk expanded strongly dorsoventrally in adult females, depth much greater than in males; head aligned with body; snout of moderate length, 32-40% HL, depth 32-56% snout length; median dorsal snout ridge confluent with supraorbital ridges; opercular ridge straight, crossing half or more of opercles in subadults and adults; superior trunk ridge and superior tail ridge discontinuous near rear of dorsal-fin base; inferior trunk ridge and inferior tail ridge continuous; lateral trunk ridge not confluent with tail ridges; tail not prehensile.

Dorsal fin much closer to head than to tip of tail, base moderately long; anal fin tiny, below rear half of dorsal fin; caudal fin small, rounded; pectoral fin present.


Reaches 135 mm TL.


Red or reddish brown with tiny blue, yellow and white dots dorsally; head and tail with fine wavy marks of similar colours. Subadults and adult males sometimes with narrow, near-black, midlateral stripe on anterior half of tail. Adult females with bluish streaks, bars and small ocelli above lateral trunk ridge, and with prominent blue on each trunk ring below lateral ridge.




Breeds in during late Spring and Summer. The eggs are brooded by the males in an enclosed pouch on the underside of the tail just behind anal fin. The pouch has thick skin and folds along the ventral midline with overlapping and interlocking pouch flaps which completely cover the developing eggsbrood; males likely to be brooding at 86.5 mm SL.

Eggs undescribed; brood size small, from 3- 25 eggs. Newly hatched larvae measure 15 mm TL.


Sometimes collected for the aquarium trade.


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

All species of the Syngnathidae are protected under the Victorian, Tasmanian and South Australian Fisheries Management Acts.


K. costatus is habitat specific, and is only found in quiet seagrass beds in silty yet clear-water environments. The decline of Zostera seagrass habitats has contributed to the rarity of this species.

Similar Species

Kaupus is a monotypic genus endemic to southern Australia. The strongly expanded trunk in adult females is unique.


Kaupus is named for the ichthyologist Johann Jakob Kaup, 1827, author of "Zoologische Monographien".

Species Citation

Leptonotus costatus Waite & Hale  1921, Rec. S. Aust. Mus. 1(4): 301, fig. 43, Spencer Gulf, South Australia.


Thompson, Vanessa J. & Dianne J. Bray

Deepbody Pipefish, Kaupus costatus (Waite & Hale 1921)


Coleman, N. 1980. Australian Sea Fishes - South of 30°S. Doubleday Australia, Lane Cove, NSW.

Dawson, C.E. 1984. Synopsis of Australian pipefishes usually referred to the syngnathine (tail-pouch) genera Syngnathus, Leptonotus and Histiogamphelus. Memoirs of the Museum of Victoria 45: 71-123, Pls. 1-9. Ref at BHL

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

Kuiter, R.H. 1993. Coastal Fishes of South-eastern Australia. Crawford House Press, Bathurst, 437pp.

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

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

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.

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37282014

Biology:Males brood the eggs

Conservation:EPBC Act Marine Listed

Depth:1-10 m

Habitat:Seagrass, algal beds

Max Size:13.5 cm TL

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Species Maps

CAAB distribution map