Halfbanded Pipefish, Mitotichthys semistriatus (Kaup 1856)

Other Names: Half-banded Pipefish

A group of male Halfbanded Pipefish, Mitotichthys semistriatus. Source: Rudie Kuiter / Aquatic Photographics. License: All rights reserved


The Halfbanded Pipefish lives in very shallow seagrass and eelgrass beds in southern Australia.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. & Thompson, V.J. 2021, Mitotichthys semistriatus in Fishes of Australia, accessed 20 Jun 2024, https://fishesofaustralia.net.au/home/species/3120

Halfbanded Pipefish, Mitotichthys semistriatus (Kaup 1856)

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Endemic to temperate southern Australian waters from Western Port, Victoria to South Australia, including southeastern Tasmania; reports of this species in South Australia have not been verified.

Halfbanded Pipefish often aggregate in small groups in shallow seagrass and eelgrass beds in less than 10 m, preferring tall seagrasses in very protected areas, usually just below the intertidal zone. In Port Phillip Bay, the species was found in shallow seagrass beds depths of less than a metre, and were present in eelgrass year round in Western Port, Victoria.


Dorsal fin 36–40; Pectoral fin 12–14; Anal fin 2–3; Caudal fin 10; trunk rings 19–20; tail rings 46–50; subdorsal rings 4.00–2.75 + 6.25–7.50 = 9.25–10.75.

Body elongate, trunk moderately shallow, somewhat deeper in adult females than adult males, upper profile slightly convex near dorsal-fin base; head aligned with body; snout long, 52–63% HL; snout depth 9–17% snout length; median dorsal snout ridge low, entire; opercle without distinct longitudinal ridge in subadults and adults; superior trunk and tail ridges discontinuous; lateral trunk ridge straight, ends near anal ring; inferior trunk and tail ridges continuous; principle body ridges entire, low on trunk, a little elevated on distal half or more of tail; scutella not keeled; without dermal flaps; tail not prehensile.

Dorsal-fin origin on trunk, closer to tip of snout than to tip of tail, fin base of moderate length; pectoral-fin base without distinct ridges; anal fin tiny, below front half of dorsal fin; caudal fin very small.


To 275 mm SL.


Overall greenish-yellow, purplish or brownish with a dark stripe from the interorbital to dorsal-fin origin; head with a broad dark stripe laterally and a dark-margined pale stripe below. Mature males and females are sexually dimorphic: females have small ocelli in a dark stripe above the lateral trunk ring, males have a few minute ocelli high on the trunk and the lateral trunk and tail ridges are pale to near white.


Individuals in Western Port, Victoria have been reported feeding mostly on tiny crustaceans, including pelagic or epibenthic copepods and small epibenthic amphipods.


Ovoviviparous (gives birth to live young) with eggs brooded by males in an enclosed brood pouch under the tail just behind the anal fin; pouch plates vestigial or absent, pouch folds present with everted pouch closure; males mature at about 14 cm.

Sixty-four eggs have been recorded in the brood pouch of a gravid male from Western Port.


Of no interest to fisheries or aquaculture.


Australian Commonwealth legislation: Marine listed under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act).

State Legislation: Listed as protected under the Victorian, Tasmanian and South Australian Fisheries Management Acts.


Halfbanded Pipefish rest horizontally amongst eelgrass leaves. They have a well-developed caudal fin and are relatively strong swimmers, actively swimming towards their prey.

Similar Species

The species is similar to M. mollisoni with which it shares the pale lateral head stripe and number of trunk and subdorsal rings. M. semistriatus has a greater number of dorsal fin rays (36-40 vs 28) and fewer pectoral fin rays (12-14 vs 18 in M. mollisoni).


The specific name semistriatus is from the Latin semi- (= half) and striatus, (= furrowed, grooved, fluted) in reference to the bars on the body below the lateral line. 

Species Citation

Leptonotus semistriatus Kaup 1856, Cat. Lophobranchiate Fish: 48, type locality unknown.


Bray, D.J. & Thompson, V.J. 2021


Atlas of Living Australia

Halfbanded Pipefish, Mitotichthys semistriatus (Kaup 1856)


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

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

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.

Duméril, A.H.A. 1870. Histoire Naturelle des Poissons, ou Ichthyologie Générale. Ganoides, Dipnés, Lophobranches. Paris : Librairie Encyclopédique de Roret Vol. 2 624 pp. See ref at BHL

Edgar, G.J. & Shaw, C. 1995. The production and tropic ecology of shallow-water fish assemblages in Southern Australia. II. Diets of fishes and trophic relationships between fishes and benthos at Western Port, Victoria. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 194(1): 83-106, https://doi.org/10.1016/0022-0981(95)00084-4

Fowler, H.W. 1922. Notes on hemibranchiate and lophobranchiate fishes. Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia 73(3): 437-448 figs 1-2 See ref at BHL

Günther, A. 1870. Catalogue of the Fishes in the British Museum. Catalogue of the Physostomi, containing the families Gymnotidae, Symbranchidae, Muraenidae, Pegasidae, and of the Lophobranchii, Plectognathi, Dipnoi, [thru] Leptocardii, in the British Museum. London : British Museum Vol. 8 549 pp. See ref at BHL

Howard, R.K. & Koehn, J.D. 1985. Population-dynamics and feeding ecology of pipefish (Syngnathidae) associated with eelgrass beds of Western-Port, Victoria. Australian Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research 36: 361–370, https://doi.org/10.1071/MF9850361

Kaup, J.J. 1856. Catalogue of the Lophobranchiate Fish in the collection of the British Museum. British Museum, London. 76 pp. See ref at BHL

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. Aquatic Photographics, Seaford, Australia. Pp. 1–333.

Kuiter, R.H. & Kuiter, S.L. 2018. Fish watchers guide to coastal sea-fishes of south-eastern Australia. Seaford, Victoria : Aquatic Photographics, 371 pp.

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

Scott, E.O.G. 1977. Observations on some Tasmanian fishes. Part 23. Papers and Proceedings of the Royal Society of Tasmania 111: 111-180 figs 1-3 (as Leptonotus semifasciatusSee ref online

Zhang, X. & Pollom, R. 2016. Mitotichthys semistriatus (errata version published in 2017). The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T65371695A115429572. https://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-3.RLTS.T65371695A67624748.en. Downloaded on 30 March 2021.

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37282015

Conservation:IUCN Least Concern

Depth:0-10 m

Habitat:Seagrass, algal beds

Max Size:27 cm TL

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