Physical Description

  • Long, very skinny fish with tubular, toothless mouths.
  • Green coloration for camouflage.
  • Instead of scales, they have jointed, bonelike rings around their body.
  • They have tiny dorsal (back) and pectoral (side) fins that beat rapidly as they slowly swim.
  • Adults can be up to 13 inches long.
  • Females are larger than males.


  • Sitka, Alaska to southern Baja California, Mexico.


  • Live in eelgrass (often they sway back and forth with the currents to camouflage with the eelgrass).
  • Found in bays, estuaries, and sloughs.
  • Also found in coral reefs.


  • Unlike most animals, a female pipefish courts the male.
  • If the male accepts, the female deposits up to 721 eggs into a brooding pouch on the male, where he incubates and nourishes the eggs for up to 6 weeks before they hatch.
  • When the babies hatch, they are immediately ready to swim away and live on their own.


  • Plankton and small crustaceans.


  • Brown smoothhounds, spotted sand bass, elegant terns.

Interesting Facts

  • Bay pipefish have no teeth. They eat by slurping up food through their tubelike mouth.
  • Pipefish are very close relatives of seahorses.
  • A pipefish steers by moving its head side to side. 

Sources: Wildcoast; Monterey Bay Aquarium; FishBase; Oregon Coast Aquarium

Photo: Rocio Gajon Bunker