Verco's Pipefish, Vanacampus vercoi (Waite & Hale 1921)

Other Names: Flinder's Pipefish, Little Pipefish, Vercos Pipefish

Verco's Pipefish, Vanacampus vercoi. Source: Rudie H. Kuiter / Aquatic Photographics. License: All rights reserved


Rare pipefish only found in South Australia. Body brownish with 4-6 pale narrow bars across back and a dark bar on the front of each body ring. Pale spots or bars often on lower part of gill cover.

Cite this page as:
Dianne J. Bray & Vanessa J. Thompson, Vanacampus vercoi in Fishes of Australia, accessed 25 May 2024,

Verco's Pipefish, Vanacampus vercoi (Waite & Hale 1921)

More Info


Endemic to temperate inshore waters of South Australia, from Rosetta Head, Encounter Bay to central Spencer Gulf, including Kangaroo Island, and may occur near Whyalla in the northern part of Spencer Gulf; inhabits shallow subtidal macroalgal and seagrass beds (Posidonia and Zostera), tide pools, tidal channels and rubble habitats at 2-4 m.


Meristic counts: Dorsal fin 19–21; Pectoral fin 8–9; Anal fin 3–4; Caudal fin 10; trunk rings 16; tail rings 40–42; subdorsal rings 0.50–0.00 + 4.25–5.00 = 4.25–5.00.

Head and body: Body elongated, trunk shallow; head aligned with body; snout moderately long, length 35–39% HL, depth 31–36% snout length; median dorsal snout ridge not confluent with supraorbital ridge; longitudinal opercular ridge usually complete; superior trunk and tail ridges discontinuous near rear of dorsal-fin base; inferior trunk and tail ridges continuous; lateral trunk ridge not confluent with tail ridges; tail not prehensile.

Fins: Dorsal fin slightly closer to tip of snout than to tip of tail, base of moderate length; anal fin tiny, below anterior portion of dorsal fin; caudal fin small; pectoral fin present.


To about 15 cm.


Body mostly brown, sometimes with 4–6 widely spaced narrow pale bars dorsally, each bar about 1 ring wide; trunk usually with prominent dark bar on anterior half of each ring laterally; lower half of opercle often with pale spots or bars.


Feeds on small crustaceans found on the substrate and amongst algae and seagrass leaves; mysids are an important food source for juveniles.


Reproduction: Ovoviviparous (gives birth to live young); eggs are brooded by males in an enclosed pouch on the underside of the tail just behind anal fin. Males have been recorded with a brood pouch at 88 mm SL, and brooding eggs at 100 mm SL.

Eggs: Undescribed. The holotype of the species was recorded as having 20 membranous egg compartments.

Body rings are present at an early stage, anal fin is reduced.


The limited range and its habitat preference may make Verco’s Pipefish vulnerable to disturbance or loss of shallow seagrass and algal habitats.

Similar Species

Verco’s Pipefish has a shorter snout, fewer trunk rings and fewer subdorsal rings than other species in the genus Vanacampus. It may also be confused with two other short-snouted species: Kaupus costatus and Pugnaso curtirostris. V. vercoi has fewer dorsal fin rays than K. costatus (19–21 versus 30–36) and differs from P. curtirostris in having a lower modal trunk ring count (16 versus 18) and in having a complete opercular ridge.


The species is named for Mr Verco.

Species Citation

Syngnathus vercoi Waite & Hale 1921, Rec. S. Aust. Mus. 1(4): 298. Type locality: Spencer Gulf, South Australia.


Dianne J. Bray & Vanessa J. Thompson

Verco's Pipefish, Vanacampus vercoi (Waite & Hale 1921)


Baker, J., S. Shepherd, A. Brown, H. Crawford & D. Muirhead. 2008. Uncommon and cryptic reef fishes: results of pilot surveys along Fleurieu Peninsula. Report for: Adelaide and Mt Lofty Ranges Natural Resources Management Board, June 2008, 25 pp.

Dawson, C. E. 1984. Synopsis of Australian pipefishes usually referred to the syngnathine (tail-pouch) genera Syngnathus, Leptonotus and Histogamphelus. Mem.Mus.Vict. 45: 71–123, Pls. 1-9.

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

Kuiter, R.H. 1993. Coastal Fishes of South-eastern Australia. Crawford House Press, Bathurst. 437 pp.

Kuiter, R.H. 1997. Guide to sea fishes of Australia. A comprehensive reference for divers and fishermen. New Holland, Frenchs Forest, NSW, Australia, 434 pp.

Kuiter, R.H. 2008. Family Syngnathidae (pp. 448–479). In Gomon, M.F., D.J. Bray & R.H. Kuiter. (Eds.) Fishes of Australia's Southern Coast. New Holland Press & Museum victoria, Melbourne, Australia, 928 pp.

Kuiter, R.H. 2009. Seahorses and their relatives. Aquatic Photographics, Seaford, Australia. Pp. 1–333.

Neira, F.J., A.G. Miskiewicz & T. Trnski. 1998. Larvae of temperate Australian fishes: laboratory guide for larval fish identification. University of Western Australia Press, Nedlands, Western Australia.

Paxton, J.R. , J.E. Gates, D.F. Hoese & D.J. Bray. 2006. Syngnathidae (Pp. 810–846). In  Hoese, D.F,. Bray, D.J., Paxton, J.R., Allen, G.R, Beesley, P.L. & Wells, A. (Eds) Zoological Catalogue of Australia. Volume 35. Fishes. ABRS & CSIRO Publishing, Australia., 3 vols.

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.

Waite E.R. & H.M. Hale. 1921. Review of the lophobranchiate fishes (pipe-fishes and seahorses) of South Australia. Rec. S. Aust. Mus. 1(4): 293–324.

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37282103

Conservation:IUCN Vulnerable: EPBC Marine Listed

Depth:2-4 m

Habitat:Seagrass & macroalgal beds

Max Size:15 cm


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