Widebody Pipefish, Stigmatopora nigra Kaup 1856

Other Names: Wide-bodied Pipefish

A Widebody Pipefish, Stigmatopora nigra, at Clifton Gardens, Sydney Harbour, New South Wales. Source: John Turnbull / Flickr. License: CC BY Attribution-Noncommercial-ShareAlike


A slender pipefish with a variable colour pattern ranging from overall greenish to brownish and even bright red depending on the habitat. Females have a series of bark bands across the underside of the wide part of the body, and often an orange line along the side. Wide-body Pipefish lack a caudal fin, and cling to seagrass fronds and algae with their almost prehensile tails.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2024, Stigmatopora nigra in Fishes of Australia, accessed 17 Jun 2024, https://fishesofaustralia.net.au/home/species/4039

Widebody Pipefish, Stigmatopora nigra Kaup 1856

More Info


Mooloolaba, Queensland, to Shark Bay, Western Australia, including around Tasmania. Elsewhere the species occurs in New Zealand. Commonly inhabits sheltered seagrass and algal beds from the intertidal to depths of 35 m.


Dorsal fin 35-47; Anal fin 4; Pectoral fin 11-1; Body rings 16-19 + 67-79; Subdorsal rings 13.50-10.50 + 4.25-8.75 = 15.75-20.75.


To 16 cm.


The species varies in colour from overall greenish to brownish depending on the habitat, and females often have an orange line along the side. 


Feeds mostly on tiny crustaceans, especially planktonic copepods, sucking them in through the long snout.


During the breeding season, females develop a swollen wide trunk (hence the common name). Males brood the developing eggs in a small pouch on the underside of the tail immediately behind the tiny anal fin. Up to 41 eggs are incubated by the male in a brood pouch formed from laterally expanded flaps of skin on the underside of the tail.


IUCN: Least Concern
EPBC Act 1999: A Marine Listed species in Australian waters.

Similar Species

Most similar to the Spotted Pipefish, Stigmatopora argus. The two species can be easily distinguished by the placement of the dorsal fin. In the Wide-body Pipefish, the dorsal fin is positioned on the 5th-7th body rings, vs on the 11th-13th body rings of the Spotted Pipefish. The Spotted Pipefish is usually greenish and peppered with tiny black spots on the dorsal surface of the body.

Species Citation

Stigmatophora nigra Kaup, 1856, Cat. Lophobranch. Fish Brit. Mus.: 53. Type locality: Tasmania.


Bray, D.J. 2024


Atlas of Living Australia

Widebody Pipefish, Stigmatopora nigra Kaup 1856


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Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37282018

Biology:Males brood eggs

Conservation:IUCN Least Concern; EPBC Marine Listed

Depth:0-35 m

Habitat:Seagrass, algal beds

Max Size:16 cm TL

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Species Maps

CAAB distribution map