Javelin Pipefish, Lissocampus runa (Whitley 1931)

Other Names: West Australian Smooth Pipefish

A Javelin Pipefish, Lissocampus runa, at Mulloway, New South Wales, October 2012. Source: Ian Shaw / iNaturalist.org. License: CC by Attribution-NonCommercial


A slender pipefish with a distinctly concave snout, and the tail much longer than the trunk. Javelin Pipefish vary in colour from plain to a mottled brown, reddish, green, yellow or whitish, with or without bars along the sides, and a brown blotch on the front of the dorsal fin. Males are usually whitish to bluish with a bright red gill cover.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. & Thompson, V.J. 2020, Lissocampus runa in Fishes of Australia, accessed 24 May 2024, https://fishesofaustralia.net.au/home/species/3112

Javelin Pipefish, Lissocampus runa (Whitley 1931)

More Info


Endemic to temperate waters of southern and eastern Australia; known from northern New South Wales, south to Port Arthur, Tasmania, and west to about Perth, Western Australia. Inhabits bay and estuaries, including tidepools, often sheltering amongst seagrass (usually Zostera spp.), in algal beds, and on rubble areas near reefs, at depths to about 20 m.


Dorsal fin 13–15; Anal fin 3–4; Pectoral fin 6–7; Caudal fin 10; Trunk rings 13–14; Tail rings 45–49; Subdorsal rings 2.25–1.50 + 0.50–1.25 = 2.25–3.00.

Head and body encased in bony rings. Body very elongate, trunk shallow, head aligned with body; snout short, snout length 29–36% HL, snout depth 50–84% snout length, dorsal margin of snout distinctly concave, falling well below dorsal rim of eye; opercle without longitudinal ridge; body ridges indistinct; superior trunk and tail ridges continuous; inferior trunk and tail ridges discontinuous near anal ring; lateral tail ridge apparently not confluent with tail ridges; tail not prehensile; dermal flaps present on head and body.

Dorsal fin short-based, originating on trunk, much closer to head than tip of tail; anal fin tiny, generally below rear half of dorsal fin; caudal fin small, rounded.


Maximum length 112 mm SL.


The species is very well-camouflaged and variable in coloration, and males and females differ. Although usually plain, individuals may have dark bars on the side of the body, and the dorsal fin often has a brown anterior blotch. Females range from dark tan or green, to yellow or whitish. Males are usually whitish to bright blue with dark bars along the side, and a bright red gill cover.


Unknown, likely to feed on very small crustaceans.


Males brood the eggs in an enclosed pouch on the underside of the body just anterior to the anal fin; pouch plates absent, pouch folds present.


Occasionally taken as bycatch in commercial trawls and dredges.


Marine listed under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 and are subject to the export controls of the Commonwealth Wildlife Protection (Regulation of Exports and Imports) Act 1982.

Protected under the New South Wales, Victorian, Tasmanian and South Australian Fisheries Management Acts.

Similar Species

The Smooth Pipefish, Lissocampus caudalis, differs in having a straight dorsal snout profile (vs a concave snout in L. runa) and 51–60 tail rings (vs. 45-49 rings in L. runa), distinguishing it from all other species in the genus.


The specific name is from the Latin runa (dart or javelin).

Species Citation

Festucalix (Campichthys) runa Whitley 1931, Aust. Zool. 6(4): 313. Type locality: Long Bay, Sydney, New South Wales.


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


Atlas of Living Australia

Javelin Pipefish, Lissocampus runa (Whitley 1931)


Allen G.R. 1997. Marine Fishes of tropical Australia and South-east Asia: A field Guide for Anglers and Divers. Western Australia Western Australian Museum, 292 pp.

Dawson, C.E. 1977. Review of the Indo-Pacific pipefish genus Lissocampus (Syngnathidae). Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington 89(53): 599-620 figs 1-7 See ref at BHL

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

Dawson, C.E. 1994. Family Syngnathidae. pp. 440-475 figs 391-426 in Gomon, M.F., Glover, C.J.M. & Kuiter, R.H. (eds). The Fishes of Australia's South Coast. Adelaide : State Printer 992 pp. 810 figs.

Hamilton, H., Saarman, N., Short, G., Sellas, A.B., Moore, B., Hoang, T., Grace, T.C.L., Gomon, M., Crow, K. & Simison, W.B. 2016. Molecular phylogeny and patterns of diversification in syngnathid fishes. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 107: 388-403 + supplement 1-4 + 5. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ympev.2016.10.003

Hindell, J.S., Jenkins, G.P. & Keough, M.J. 2000. Evaluating the impact of predation by fish on the assemblage structure of fishes associated with seagrass (Heterozostera tasmanica) (Martens ex Ascherson) den Hartog, and unvegetated sand habitats. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 255(2): 153-174.

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

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

Kuiter, R.H. 1996. Guide to Sea Fishes of Australia. A comprehensive reference for divers and fishermen. Sydney, NSW, Australia : New Holland Publishers xvii, 434 pp.

Kuiter, R.H. 2000. Coastal fishes of south-eastern Australia. Gary Allen. 437 pp.

Kuiter, R.H. 2000. Seahorses, Pipefishes and Their Relatives. Chorleywood, UK : TMC Publishing 240 pp.

Kuiter, R.H. 2008. Syngnathidae. pp. 448-479 in Gomon, M.F., Bray, D.J. & Kuiter, R.H. (eds). Fishes of Australia's Southern Coast. Sydney : Reed New Holland 928 pp.

Kuiter, R.H. 2009. Seahorses and their relatives. Seaford, Australia : Aquatic Photographics 331 pp.

Last, P.R., Scott, E.O.G. & Talbot, F.H. 1983. Fishes of Tasmania. Hobart : Tasmanian Fisheries Development Authority 563 pp. figs. 

McCulloch, A.R. 1909. Studies in Australian fishes, No. 2. Records of the Australian Museum 7(4): 315-321 fig. 18 pls 90-91 (misidentified as Ichthyocampus filum)

Qian, Y. & Pollom, R. 2016. Lissocampus runa (errata version published in 2017). The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T65370289A115426541. http://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-3.RLTS.T65370289A67624165.en. Downloaded on 30 January 2019.

Scott, T.D., Glover, C.J.M. & Southcott, R.V. 1974. The Marine and Freshwater Fishes of South Australia. Adelaide : Government Printer 392 pp. figs. (as Lissocampus affinis and Ichthyocampus runa)

Trnski, T. 2001. Diel and tidal abundance of fish larvae in a barrier-estuary channel in New South Wales. Marine and Freshwater Research 52(7): 995-1006.

Whitley, G.P. 1931. New names for Australian fishes. The Australian Zoologist 6(4): 310-334 1 fig. pls 25-27 See ref at BHL

Whitley, G.P. 1944. New sharks and fishes from Western Australia. The Australian Zoologist 10(3): 252-273 figs 1-6 (described as Lissocampus affinis) See ref at BHL

Whitley, G.P. 1948. Studies in Ichthyology No. 13. Records of the Australian Museum 22(1): 70-94 figs 1-11  https://doi.org/10.3853/j.0067-1975.22.1948.592 (as Larvicampus runa)

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37282009

Biology:Males brood the eggs

Conservation:IUCN Least Concern; EPBC Act Marine Listed

Depth:1-20 m

Habitat:Seagrass beds

Max Size:11 cm TL


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