Bellybar Pipefish

Hippichthys spicifer
Bellybar Pipefish - Marinewise © 2024 MarineWise

Quick Facts

Scientific name Hippichthys spicifer
Other names Banded Freshwater Pipefish, Bellybarred Pipefish, Blue Spotted Pipefish
Size Up to 18 cm (7 in)
Weight Under 10 grams


Habitat & AU Distribution Fresh, brackish & marine waters in rivers, stream, tidal creeks & mangroves
Depth Range 2 - 20 m (65 ft)
Bellybar Pipefish Distribution

Interesting Info

  • The bellybar pipefish is a pipefish species found exclusively in fresh, brackish and marine waters around Australia, primarily in Queensland.
  • The species is known for its distinctive appearance, with a long, slender body that is usually a mottled brown or green colour and a distinctive “bellybar” of bright orange or yellow along its underside.
  • Bellybar pipefish are typically found in seagrass meadows, coral reefs, and other shallow, sandy areas in coastal waters.
  • Bellybar pipefish are carnivores, feeding primarily on small crustaceans such as copepods and amphipods.
  • The species is known to be monogamous, with males and females forming pairs that remain together for extended periods.
  • Estimates of lifespan are up to 5 years.
  • Male bellybar pipefish carry and incubate the eggs until they hatch, which can take several weeks.
  • Like other pipefish species, bellybar pipefish are closely related to seahorses and share many of the same unique adaptations, such as a prehensile tail that they use to hold onto seagrass or other objects in their environment.
Species Interaction

Aquarium & Recreational Snorkelling/Diving

Bellybar pipefish can be a fascinating species to observe, whether in an aquarium or while snorkelling in their natural habitat. When snorkelling in their natural habitat, it is important to avoid disturbing their environment and to observe them from a respectful distance, without touching or chasing them. Bellybar pipefish are generally shy and may be difficult to spot, but their distinctive appearance and behaviour can make them a rewarding species to observe for those who take the time to look.

Scientific Classification

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Actinopterygii

Order: Syngnathiformes

Family: Syngnathidae

Genus: Hippichthys

Species: Hippichthys spicifer

Conservation Status

The conservation status of bellybar pipefish in Australia is currently listed as “Least Concern” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The species is considered relatively widespread and abundant throughout its range and is not currently considered at risk.

Fish Taste Quality

Bellybar pipefish are not targeted for food or consumption.

Taste Rating: no rating

Bellybar Pipefish
As Aquarium Fish

Care Level: Difficult

Temperament: Peaceful

Diet: Carnivore

Reef Compatible: Yes

Minimum Tank Size: 60 gallons

Recreational Viewing
- Snorkeling & Scuba

Finding: Easy

Temperament: Peaceful

Location: Inner Reef, Seagrass Beds, Sandflats

Danger: None

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