Braun's Pughead Pipefish, Bulbonaricus brauni (Dawson & Allen 1978)

Other Names: Eel Pipefish, Galaxea Pipefish, Pugheaded Pipefish, Pug-headed Pipefish, Red Galaxea Pipefish

Braun's Pughead Pipefish, Bulbonaricus brauni, at Ani Island, Ogasawara, Japan, 24m, 5 cm TL. Source: orangkucing / License: CC BY Attribution-ShareAlike


A small eel-like reddish to reddish-brown pipefish with white dots peppering the body and a short white ‘pug-faced' snout. Adults lack dorsal and pectoral fins, and have a pointed frontal process overhanging the mouth. 

These small agile pipefishes easily move around within large plate corals or between the polyps of Galaxea corallites.

Video of Bulbonaricus brauni in Japan.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. & Thompson, V.J. 2024, Bulbonaricus brauni in Fishes of Australia, accessed 14 Jul 2024,

Braun's Pughead Pipefish, Bulbonaricus brauni (Dawson & Allen 1978)

More Info


Off North West Cape, Western Australia. Elsewhere the species occur in the tropical East-Indo-west Pacific - Indonesia, Western Australia, China, Taiwan, Japan and Palau. Inhabits coral reefs, living among dendrophyllid corals and the corals Galaxea astreata and G. fascicularis.


Dorsal fin absent in adults; Pectoral fin absent in adults; Caudal fin 10; Trunk rings 17; Tail rings 44-46.

Body eel-like, slender, slightly compressed; superior trunk and tail ridges continuous; median trunk ridge straight, extending to first tail ring; ventral ridges on midventral line indistinct; all ridges on trunk and tail smooth; rings not distinct. Head pug-nosed; frontal process V-shaped, its dorsal margins denticulate and covered by fleshy skin; mouth inferior with fleshy lips, located below pointed tip of projecting preorbital process; gill opening small, at upper corner of gill cover. Dorsal, anal, and pectoral fins absent; caudal fin small. Brood pouch of male on tail, pouch plates short, pouch type semi-closed.

Unlike the bottom-dwelling stage, planktonic specimens have 42 dorsal-fin rays  and 10-11 pectoral-fin rays.


To 7.2 cm TL.


Body overall reddish to brownish with numerous small white spots and pale principle trunk ridges. The preorbital region and around the mouth are distinctly white and an oval brownish blotch is present on the opercle (gill cover).


Males brood the eggs in an enclosed pouch on the underside of the tail. The species has a long pelagic juvenile stage. Non-metamorphosed planktonic stages differ from metamorphosed demersal form in having a dorsal fin, pectoral fins and a tubiform snout.


Bulbonaricus brauni is a listed Marine species under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act 1999 Marine Species).


The planktonic and demersal stages of this species are very different. Planktonic specimens have a typical pointed pipefish snout and dorsal and pectoral fin. During metamorphosis, the fins are lost and the snout shortens markedly.

Similar Species

Similar to Bulbonaricus davaoensis which has a round spine-like frontal process and lacks marginal spines or denticulations unlike Bulbonaricus brauni with its V-shaped frontal process and spinose or denticulate dorsal margins.


The species is  after the collector, Mr J. Braun, who recognized the fish as unusual and brought the living holotype to the Western Australian Museum.

Species Citation

Enchelyocampus brauni Dawson & Allen 1978, Rec. West. Aust. Mus. 6(4): 407, figs 6-7. Type locality: Western Australia, North West Cape, off Tantabiddi Creek (21°55'S, 113°56'E), outer reef, among dendrophyllid coral, 10 m.


Bray, D.J. & Thompson, V.J. 2024


Atlas of Living Australia

Braun's Pughead Pipefish, Bulbonaricus brauni (Dawson & Allen 1978)


Allen, G.R. 1997. Marine Fishes of Tropical Australia and South-east Asia. Western Australian Museum, Perth. 292 pp, 106 pls.

Allen, G.R. & Erdmann, M.V. 2012. Reef fishes of the East Indies. Perth : Tropical Reef Research 3 vols, 1260 pp.

Allen, G.R. & Swainston, R. 1988. The Marine Fishes of North-Western Australia. A field guide for anglers and divers. Perth, WA : Western Australian Museum vi 201 pp., 70 pls. 

Araki, M., Uehara, K., Senou, H. & Motomura, H. 2020 First records of the Pughead-pipefish Bulbonaricus davaoensis (Teleostei: Syngnathidae) from Japan, pp.  in Species Diversity 25: 163-169,

Austin, D. & Pollom, R. 2016. Bulbonaricus brauni (errata version published in 2017). The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T65363711A115410476. Accessed on 04 June 2024.

Dawson, C.E. 1984. Bulbonaricus Herald (Pisces: Syngnathidae), a senior synonym of Enchelyocampus Dawson and Allen, with description of Bulbonaricus brucei n. sp. from Eastern Africa. Copeia 1984(3): 565-571.

Dawson, C.E. 1985. Indo-Pacific Pipefishes (Red Sea to the Americas). Ocean Springs (Mississippi) : Gulf Coast Research Laboratory 230 pp. 293 figs pl. 1. 

Dawson, C.E. & Allen, G.R. 1978. Synopsis of the "finless" pipefish genera (Penetopteryx, Apterygocampus and Enchelyocampus, gen. nov.). Records of the Western Australian Museum 6(4): 391-411 figs 1-7 See ref at BHL See ref online

Ho, H-C. & Lin, C-W. 2014. New records of two pughead pipefishes (Syngnathiformes: Syngnathidae: Bulbonaricus) from Taiwan. Platax 11: 25-31.

Koeda, K. & Takuma, F. 2015. Records of the Pughead Pipefish, Bulbonaricus brauni (Gasterosteiformes: Syngnathidae), from Amami-oshima Island, Central Ryukyu Archipelago, Southern Japan. South Pacific Studies 36(1): 33-38.

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

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

Myers, R.F. 1999. Micronesian reef fishes: a comprehensive guide to the coral reef fishes of Micronesia. 3rd revised and expanded edition. Coral Graphics, Barrigada, Guam. 330 pp.

Paulus, T. 1999. Family Syngnathidae. pp. 2264-2276 in Carpenter, K.E. & Niem, T.H. (eds) The Living Marine Resources of the Western Central Pacific. FAO Species Identification Guide for Fisheries Purposes. Rome : FAO Vol. 4 pp. 2069-2790. 

Suzuki, T., K. Yano, H. Senou & T. Yoshino. 2003. First record of a syngnathid fish, Bulbonaricus brauni from Iriomote Island, Ryukyus Islands, Japan. I. O. P. Diving News 14(1): 2-5. [In Japanese, English abstract]

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37282037

Biology:Males brood the eggs

Conservation:IUCN Least Concern

Depth:0-15 m

Habitat:Reef associated

Max Size:7 cm TL

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