Glittering Pipefish, Halicampus nitidus (Günther 1873)

A Glittering Pipefish, Halicampus nitidus, at Anilao, Luzon, Philippines. Source: Gerald R. Allen / FishBase. License: All rights reserved


Although rarely seen, Glittering Pipefish are easily recognised with their distinctive zebra-like pattern of dark brown and silvery-white bands encircling the head and body.

Cite this page as:
Thompson, Vanessa J. & Dianne J. Bray, Halicampus nitidus in Fishes of Australia, accessed 28 Nov 2022,

Glittering Pipefish, Halicampus nitidus (Günther 1873)

More Info


Tropical Western Pacific, Vietnam to Fiji, north to the Ryukyu Islands, south to Rowley Shoals and New Caledonia, eastwards to Micronesia. Glittering Pipefish live in crevices and under rocks and rubble on coastal, lagoon and outer coral reef areas to 20 m.


Meristics: D 18-22; A usually 3; P 11-14; Trunk rings 13-15; Tail rings 30-32.

Head and body: Head short, length 8.2-10.7 in SL; snout short, length 2.9-3.7 in head length; snout depth 2.0-2.6 in snout length; median dorsal snout ridge discontinuous with 1-3 semi-isolated spines or crests; usually with 1-2 lateral spines on snout; lacks spines on postorbital or posterior supraorbital regions of head; dorsal rim of orbit slightly elevated; opercular ridge incomplete in adults; principle body ridges elevated; margins of superior ridge serrate; rings often with a subterminal notch and a prominent spine-like point distally; dermal flaps on head and body flat and broad.

Fins: Caudal fin tiny; pectoral fin base clearly protruding laterally, with one distinct ridge.


To 7.5 cm


Head and body with a pattern of alternating narrow dark reddish-brown and white bands.


Preys on small crustaceans.


Reproduction: Ovoviviparous (gives birth to live young). The eggs are brooded by the males in a semi-exposed pouch under the trunk.

Eggs: Not described

Larvae: Morphologically similar to adults at birth.




Australian Government Legislation: Marine listed under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.


Ornamentation of the median dorsal snout ridge increases with age. Juveniles (19-20 mm SL) have a single spine or ridge-like crest on the snout, while larger individuals (longer than 60 mm) may have three ridge-like crests.

Similar Species

H. nitidis shares the modal count of 14 trunk rings, upturned opercular ridge and presence of one or more lateral spines or projections on the snout with H. spinirostris, H. brocki and H. dunkeri. However, H. nitidus is easily recognised from other members in the genus by differences in other meristics as well as its small size, less developed dermal flaps and striking colour pattern.


Halicampus is from the Greek, als, alis for salt and the Greek, kampe meaning bend. The specific name is from the Latin nitidus meaning shiny or gleaming.

Species Citation

Syngnathus nitidus Günther 1873, J. Mus. Godeffroy 1(2): Bowen, Queensland (as Australia).


Thompson, Vanessa J. & Dianne J. Bray

Glittering Pipefish, Halicampus nitidus (Günther 1873)


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

Allen, G.R. & M. Adrim. 2003. Coral reef fishes of Indonesia. Zool. Stud. 42(1): 1-72.

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

Fricke, R. 2004. Review of the pipefishes and seahorses (Teleostei: Syngnathidae) of New Caledonia, with descriptions of five new species. Stuttgarter Beiträge zur Naturkunde. Serie A (Biologie). 66S: 1-66.

Günther, A. 1873. Erster ichthyologischer Beitrag nach Exemplaren aus dem Museum Godeffroy. J. Mus. Godeffroy 1(2): 97-103.

Hoese, D.F., D.J. Bray, J.R. Paxton & G.R. Allen. 2006. Fishes. In Beesley, P.L. & A. Wells (eds). Zoological catalogue of Australia. Volume 35. ABRS & CSIRO Publishing: Australia. 2178 pp.

Kuiter, R.H. 2000. Seahorses, Pipefishes and their Relatives. TMC Publishing, Chorleywood, UK. 240 pp. [as Halicampus sp 2].

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

Myers, R.F. 1999. Micronesian reef fishes. A comprehensive guide to the coral reef fishes of Micronesia. 3rd revised ed. Coral Graphics, Guam. 330 pp, 192 pls.

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

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.

Randall, J.E. 2005. Reef and shore fishes of the South Pacific. New Caledonia to Tahiti and the Pitcairn Islands. 707 pp.

Randall, J.E., Allen, G.R. & R.C. Steene. 1997. Fishes of the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea. Crawford House Press. Bathurst. 557 pp.

Senou, H. & M. Aizawa. 1993. Two rare species of the genus Halicampus (Pisces; Syngnathidae) from the Ryukyu Islands. I. O. P. Diving News 4(1): 4-5. [In Japanese, English abstract.]

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37282069

Biology:Male brood pouch

Feeding:Carnivore - invertebrates


Max Size:80

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