Banded Pipefish, Dunckerocampus dactyliophorus (Bleeker 1853)

Other Names: Ringed Pipefish

A pair of Banded Pipefish, Dunckerocampus dactyliophorus, at Tufi Wharf, Tufi, Papua New Guinea. Source: Dave Harasti / License: All rights reserved


This distinctive pipefish has alternating pale and red to blackish bands, a reddish caudal fin with white dorsal and ventral margins, and usually 1-3 white spots in the centre.

Cite this page as:
Thompson, Vanessa J. & Dianne J. Bray, Dunckerocampus dactyliophorus in Fishes of Australia, accessed 19 May 2024,

Banded Pipefish, Dunckerocampus dactyliophorus (Bleeker 1853)

More Info


Tropical Western Pacific, from Indonesia, the Ryukyu Islands, Japan, to Australia, the Coral Sea, and east to Marshall and Society Islands, Tonga and Samoa; in Australian waters, known from Clerke Reef, WA, the Northenr Territory and the Great Barrier Reef, Queensland; inhabits protected reefs and lagoons, usually in caves and crevices to 10 m.


Dorsal fin 20-26; Anal fin 4; Pectoral fin 18-22; Trunk rings 15-17; Tail rings 18-22.

Head long, 3.7-4.6 in SL, snout long, 1.4-1.8 in head length, snout depth 10.6-20.8 in snout length. Superior trunk and tail ridges discontinuous; lateral trunk ridge continuous with inferior tail ridge; juveniles with 2 spines on ridges of body, reduced to 1 spine in adults and may be lacking in large adults.

Caudal fin moderately large.


Grows to about 180 mm TL


Head (including the snout) and body with alternating pale and red to black bands; caudal fin usually red with white dorsal and ventral margin and usually 1-3 white spots in the centre.


This popular species is collected for the aquarium trade.


Listed as Data deficient in the 2008 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. [as Doryrhamphus dactyliophorus].

Marine listed under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 [as Doryrhamphus dactyliophorus].


Some records of D. dactyliophorus may actually be of the relatively recently described D. naia, which is known from Fiji and Indonesia and may also occur in southern Japan, northern Sulawesi, Guam, and the Solomon Islands (on the basis of underwater photographs).

Similar Species

D. dactyliophorus is easily confused with D. naia, which has a similar pattern of light and dark bars, however the bars of D. naia are lighter and have a reddish hue. The caudal fin of D. naia is mostly red and the white margin is confined to the top and bottom of the caudal fin. D. boylei, which has a broader bands and a diagnostic caudal fin pattern, has previously been confused with D. dactyliophorus.


Dunckerocampus is from the Greek, rhamphos (bill, beak). The specific name dactyliophorus is from the Greek dactylos (finger) and the Latin pharus (beacon, lighthouse) in reference to the distinctive white spot on to caudal fin.

Species Citation

Syngnathus dactyliophorus Bleeker 1853, Nat. Tijdschr. Ned. Ind. 4: 506. Type locality: Onrust Island, Jakarta (as Batavia), Indonesia.


Thompson, Vanessa J. & Dianne J. Bray

Banded Pipefish, Dunckerocampus dactyliophorus (Bleeker 1853)


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IUCN. (2008). 2008 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species

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Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37282057

Biology:Males brood the eggs

Conservation:IUCN Data Deficient; EPBC Act Marine Listed

Depth:5-56 m

Fishing:Aquarium fish

Habitat:Reef associated

Max Size:18 cm TL

Species Image Gallery

Species Maps

CAAB distribution map