Booth's Pipefish, Halicampus boothae (Whitley 1964)

Booth's Pipefish, Halicampus boothae, at Izu Ocean Park, Japan. Source: Izuzuki / License: CC BY Attribution-ShareAlike


A light tan to dark brown pipefish with evenly-spaced pale bars along the back and uppersides, and a pale tip on the snout. Booth's Pipefish lives amongst rich algal growth on coral and rocky reefs.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. & Thompson, V.J. 2017, Halicampus boothae in Fishes of Australia, accessed 25 May 2024,

Booth's Pipefish, Halicampus boothae (Whitley 1964)

More Info


Reefs in the Coral Sea, and the Great Barrier Reef to SE of Townshend Island, Queensland; also Lord Howe Island and Norfolk Island in the Tasman Sea. Elsewhere the species is known from tropical and temperate waters in the Western Pacific - from Japan, the Chesterfield Islands, Fiji and Tonga. Inhabits coral reef and algal-rich rocky reef habitats in 1-30 m. 


Dorsal fin 18-24; Anal fin 3-4; Pectoral fin 10-12; Trunk rings 13-14; Tail rings: 37-42.

Body elongate; head length 11.9-16.9 in SL; short snout, length 3.0-3.8 in HL; median dorsal snout ridge continuous, arcuate, the margin often minutely spinulose; side of snout without spines or ridges in subadults-adults; opercular ridge vestigial or obsolete. Superior trunk and tail ridges discontinuous; principle body ridges distinct; inferior trunk ridge ending at anal ring; dermal flaps usually present on eye, sometimes present elsewhere on head and body.

Pectoral fin base not clearly protruding laterad, usually without distinct ridges.


To 175 mm SL


Colour varies from light tan to dark brown; tip of snout usually pale; evenly spaced pale bars on dorsum and upper part of side; often with indications of dark bars on the underside of each trunk ring.


Unknown, likely to feed on small crustaceans.


Eggs are brooded by males in a semi-exposed pouch under the trunk; males may begin brooding at 94 mm SL. Brood size is likely to be around 120 eggs, and the larvae are morphologically similar to the adults at birth.


Of no interest to fisheries, and a permit is required for capture/collection of this species.


  • EPBC Act 1999 : Marine Listed
  • New South Wales: Protected under the New South Wales Fisheries Management Act.
  • Remarks

    Individuals from Lord Howe Island have higher counts for some characters than specimens from other areas (39-42 versus 37-40 tail rings and 22-24 versus 18-20 dorsal fin rays).

    Similar Species

    Although similar to the Ridgenose Pipefish, Halicampus dunckeri, Booth's Pipefish grows to a larger size (175 mm SL versus 115 mm SL) and has a higher number of tail rings (37-42 versus 31-36).


    The species is named for Julie Booth, who "presented many interesting fishes to the Australian Museum from New South Wales and Lord Howe Island".

    Species Citation

    Micrognathus boothae Whitley 1964, Rec. Aust. Mus. 26(5): 162. Type locality: Lord Howe Island.


    Bray, D.J. & Thompson, V.J. 2017


    Australian Faunal Directory

    Booth's Pipefish, Halicampus boothae (Whitley 1964)


    Allen, G.R., Hoese, D.F., Paxton, J.R., Randall, J.E., Russell, B.C., Starck, W.A., Talbot, F.H. & Whitley, G.P. 1976. Annotated checklist of the fishes of Lord Howe Island. Records of the Australian Museum 30(15): 365-454 figs 1-2

    Coleman, N. 1980. Australian Sea Fishes - South of 30oS. Doubleday Australia, Lane Cove, NSW.

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

    Francis, M.P. 1993. Checklist of the coastal fishes of Lord Howe, Norfolk, and Kermadec Islands, Southwest Pacific Ocean. Pacific Science 47(2):136-170.

    Francis, M.P. & J.E. Randall. 1993. Further additions to the fish faunas of Lord Howe and Norfolk Islands, southwest Pacific oceans. Pacific Science 47(2): 118-135.

    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.

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

    Kuiter, R.H. 2009. Seahorses and their relatives. Aquatic Photographics, Seaford, Australia. 333 pp.

    Kuo, T. & Pollom, R. 2016. Halicampus boothae. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T65367461A67624492. Downloaded on 03 September 2017.

    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.

    Nakabo, T. 2002. (ed.) Fishes of Japan with pictorial keys to the species. English edition. Tokai University Press. Vol 1, 866 pp.

    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. University of Hawai‘i Press Honolulu. 707 pp.

    Youn, C.-H. 2002. Fishes of Korea, with pictorial key and systematic list. 747 pp.

    Whitley G.P. 1964. Fishes from the Coral Sea and the Swain Reefs. Records of the Australian Museum 26(5): 145-195.

    Quick Facts

    CAAB Code:37282107

    Biology:Males brood the eggs

    Conservation:IUCN Least Concern; EPBC Marine Listed

    Depth:1-30 m

    Habitat:Reef associated

    Max Size:17.5 cm SL

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    CAAB distribution map