Pacific Shortbody Pipefish, Choeroichthys brachysoma (Bleeker 1855)

Other Names: Pacific Short-bodied Pipefish, Shortbodied Pipefish, Short-bodied Pipefish

A Pacific Shortbody Pipefish, Choeroichthys brachysoma, in the Marshall Islands. Source: Scott Johnson / FishBase. License: CC by Attribution-NonCommercial


The Pacific Shortbody Pipefish is sexually dimorphic. Females have slender bodies with two rows of black spots on the side, whereas males are shorter with a much wider body scattered with small white spots. This small, rare species shelters amongst seagrasses in lagoons and on sheltered shallow reefs.

Cite this page as:
Thompson, Vanessa J. & Dianne J. Bray, Choeroichthys brachysoma in Fishes of Australia, accessed 04 Jul 2020,

Pacific Shortbody Pipefish, Choeroichthys brachysoma (Bleeker 1855)

More Info


Widespread in the tropical Indo-west Pacific, from the Red Sea and East Africa to the Marshall and Society Islands, north to the Philippines and Japan and south to Australia. Found in Australian waters from south-western Australia to about Moreton Bay (Qld), including in the territory of Ashmore and Cartier Islands; also Christmas Island in the Indian Ocean.

Inhabits tide pools, seagrass and coral reef lagoons and seaward reefs in 1-27 m.


Meristics: D 18-26; P 18-23; A 4; C 10; Trunk rings 14-18; Tail rings 17-20; subdorsal rings 5.5-2.5 + 0.00-1.75 = 3.75-6.0.

Head and body: Lateral and median dorsal snout ridges present; margins of head and body ridges smooth to finely serrate; trunk and tail ridges deeply notched or slightly indented between rings; scutella not keeled; knob-like projections absent on rear margins of trunk rings. HL 4.1-5.9 in SL; snout length 1.8-2.4 in HL; snout depth 3.8-5.8 in snout length.


To 7 cm TL


Body overall dark brown with some pale speckling. A dark lateral stripe is usually present on the snout and opercle. Females usually have a row of dark spots above and below the lateral trunk ridge. Males usually have an incomplete row of spots above the lateral trunk ridge and a complete row below.


This species has distinct odontid processes, or tooth-like structures, on its jaws which may facilitate grazing.


The sexes are separate, individuals are solitary. Males and females are conspicuously sexually dimorphic, and females lay their eggs onto the underside of the trunk of the male. The eggs are brooded in an enclosed pouch, and are usually arranged in a single layer of two parallel rows in the pouch. Males may be brooding at 35-40 mm. The larvae are undescribed but are likely to be pelagic.




Choeroichthys brachysoma is listed on the IUCN Red List as Least Concern, and is a listed Marine species under under s248 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 EPBC Act.


Pipefishes and  seahorses (Family Syngnathidae) usually feed by picking and sucking up prey items by a rapid intake of water through the long snout. Several pipefish species, however, including the Pacific Shortbody Pipefish, have toothlike (odontoid) processes on their jaws suggesting that they may feed by grazing.

Similar Species

The Pacific Shortbody Pipefish is most similar to Choeroichthys suillus which has higher ring counts than C. brachysoma (trunk rings 18-19 versus 14-18 and total rings 37-39 versus 31-36).


Choeroichthys is from the Greek choiros (pig) and ichthys (fish). The specific name brachysoma is from the Greek brachys (short) and soma (body, flesh) in reference to the relatively short body of this species.

Species Citation

Syngnathus brachysoma Bleeker 1855, Nat. Tijdschr. Ned. Ind. 8: 327, Batu Archipelago, Indonesia.


Thompson, Vanessa J. & Dianne J. Bray

Pacific Shortbody Pipefish, Choeroichthys brachysoma (Bleeker 1855)


Allen, G.R. 1997. Marine fishes of tropical Australia and south-east Asia. Western Australian Museum, Perth. 292 pp.

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Allen, G.R. & R. Swainston. 1988. The marine fishes of north-western Australia. A field guide for anglers and divers. Western Australian Museum, Perth. 201 pp.

Bleeker, P. 1855. Bijdrage tot de kennis der ichthyologische fauna van de Batoe Eilanden. Nar. Tijdschr. Ned. Ind. 8: 305-328.

Dawson, C.E. 1976. Review of the Indo-Pacific Pipefish genus Choeroichthys (Pisces: Syngnathidae), with descriptions of two new species. Proc. Biol. Soc. Wash. 89(3): 39-66.

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

Dawson, C.E. & R.A. Fritzsche. 1975. Odontid processes in pipefish jaws. Nature 257: 390.

Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts (2008). Choeroichthys brachysoma in Species Profile and Threats Database, Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts, Canberra. Available from: Accessed [email protected]:48:19.

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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.

Senou, H. & A. Ono. 1998. Two rare syngnathid, Choeroichthys brachysoma and Cosmocampus banneri, from the Ryukyu Islands. I. O. P. Diving News 9(1): 4-7. [In Japanese, English abstract]

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37282042

Biology:Males brood the eggs

Conservation:IUCN Least Concern; EPBC Act Marine Listed

Depth:1-27 m

Habitat:Reef associated

Max Size:7 cm TL

Species Image Gallery

Species Maps

CAAB distribution map