Yellowbanded Pipefish, Dunckerocampus pessuliferus (Fowler 1938)

Other Names: Yellow Banded Pipefish, Yellowbar Pipefish

A Yellowbanded Pipefish, Dunckerocampus pessuliferus, in Lighthouse Bay, Ningaloo Reef, Western Australia, March 2018. Source: glen_whisson / License: CC by Attribution-NonCommercial


A bright yellow pipefish with dark brown to reddish-brown bands encircling the head and body, and a reddish-orange tail with a yellow centre. This pipefish actively cleans parasites from other fishes.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2022, Dunckerocampus pessuliferus in Fishes of Australia, accessed 17 Jul 2024,

Yellowbanded Pipefish, Dunckerocampus pessuliferus (Fowler 1938)

More Info


Ningaloo Reef to the Montebello Islands, Western Australia. Elsewhere the species occurs in the tropical west Pacific, from the Philippines and Australia. Inhabits inshore patch reefs on sandy and muddy areas, often around isolated coral bommies in deeper undisturbed areas to at least 44 m, although may enter shallow estuaries.


Dorsal fin 29-30; Anal fin 4; Pectoral fin 21; Caudal fin 10; Trunk rings 17; tail rings 20 (excludes 2 small vertically aligned plates on each side of caudal fin base).

Head length in SL 4.2, snout long, slender, snout depth in snout length 14.0-14.2. Superior trunk and tail ridges discontinuous, inferior trunk ridge ends on anal ring, lateral trunk ridge confluent with inferior tail ridge; principle ridges of each ring with 1-2 prominent spines distally.

Caudal fin large, fan-like.


Reaches 160 mm TL.


Head, body and posterior one-third of the snout with alternating reddish-brown and yellow bands. Tail mostly red with a yellow spot in the centre and white markings on the margin.


Feeds on planktonic micro-crustaceans and actively cleans parasites off other fishes.


Males brood the eggs in a semi-exposed pouch under the trunk. Males and females live in pairs.


Sometimes collected for the aquarium trade.


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


Divers often see adults swimming close to the bottom in deeper muddy slopes around isolated coral bommies. These pipefishes are active cleaners, removing crustacean parasites from other fish

Similar Species

Differs from the Banded Pipefish, Dunckerocampus dactyliophorus, in having an orange background colour, compared with the white or cream background colour of D. dactyliophorus.


The specific name pessuliferus is from the Latin pessulum (= little bar) and fero (= to bear) in reference to dark-brown transverse bar on the rings.

Species Citation

Dunckerocampus pessuliferus Fowler 1938, Proc. U.S. Natl. Mus. 85(3032): 41, off Sulade Island (E), vicinity of Siasi, Sulu Archipelago, 5°46'40"N, 120°48'50"E, depth 24 fathoms.


Bray, D.J. 2022


Atlas of Living Australia

Yellowbanded Pipefish, Dunckerocampus pessuliferus (Fowler 1938)


Allen, G.R. 1996. New records of reef and shore fishes from northwestern Australia. Records of the Western Australian Museum 18: 109-112 

Allen, G.R. 1997. Marine Fishes of Tropical Australia and South-east Asia. Perth : Western Australian Museum 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. & Kuiter, R.H. 2004. Dunckerocampus naia, a new species of pipefish (Pisces: Syngnathidae) from the western Pacific. Aqua, Journal of Ichthyology and Aquatic Biology 9(1): 1-6.

Dawson, C.E. 1981. Review of the Indo-Pacific pipefish genus Doryrhamphus Kaup (Pisces: Syngnathidae), with descriptions of a new species and a new subspecies, Ichthyol. Bull. J.L.B. Smith Inst. 44: 1-27, figs. 1-17.

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

Fowler, H.W. 1938. Descriptions of new fishes obtained by the United States Bureau of Fisheries steamer Albatross, chiefly in Philippine seas and adjacent waters. Proc. U.S. Natl. Mus. 85(3032): 31-135. See ref at BHL

Kuiter, R.H. 1998. Pipefishes of the syngnathid genus Dunckerocampus (Syngnathiformes: Syngnathidae), with a description of a new species from the Indian Ocean. Aqua, Journal of Ichthyology and Aquatic Biology 3(2): 81-84.

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

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

Kuiter, R.H. & Tonozuka, T. 2001. Pictorial guide to Indonesian reef fishes. Part 1. Eels- Snappers, Muraenidae - Lutjanidae. Zoonetics, Australia. 302 pp.

Michael, S.W. 1998. Reef Fishes Volume 1. A Guide to Their Identification, Behaviour and Captive Care. Microcosm Ltd. Shellbourne, Vermont. 624 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.

Pollom, R. 2016. Dunckerocampus pessuliferus (errata version published in 2017). The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T65367059A115421785. Downloaded on 17 August 2018.

Stiller, J., Short, G., Hamilton, H., Saarman, N., et al. 2022. Phylogenomic analysis of Syngnathidae reveals novel relationships, origins of endemic diversity and variable diversification rates. BMC Biology 20(75): 1-22.

Winterbottom, R. 1987. Redescription of Doryrhamphus (Dunkerocampus) pessuliferus (Pisces: Syngnathidae). Copeia 1987(2): 519-521.

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37282108

Biology:Males brood the eggs

Conservation:IUCN Least Concern

Depth:14-44 m

Habitat:Reef associated

Max Size:16 cm

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Species Maps

CAAB distribution map