Some animals just do not look like animals. Such is the case with today’s animal, the banded pipefish. I came across it by accident, as it was on the cover page of a website I frequently visit. Once I saw the fish, I couldn’t help but jot it down as a must-blog for a later day. Well, today is that day!
The banded pipefish belongs to the same family as seahorses (and other pipefish), which might partially explain why it looks so strange (seahorses are pretty odd looking too). They can be found in the Indo-Pacific Ocean, from the Red Sea to South Africa, to the west coast of Australia. Pipefish live in and around coral reefs, using their long, thin bodies to hide in small cracks.
The banded pipefish definitely resembles a pipe. A brightly coloured, moving pipe. They can be up to 19 cm long, and are extremely skinny. They kind of look like someone took a seahorse and stretched it out so that it’s straight. The banded pipefish has a large number of bands over its entire body – sometimes over a hundred. There are darker stripes over the gills of the fish. Pipefish, along with other members of their family, have their bodies covered in bony rings that acts like armoured plating.
Pipefish are not strong swimmers, mainly because they lack a lot of the fins seen in other fish. They swim by wiggling their dorsal and pectoral fins quickly. They usually hang out in pairs, and swim against the ceilings of the caves they hide in, for whatever reason. Those ceilings must have something really interesting on them. Maybe Michelangelo went and did some underwater work after he was done with the Sistine Chapel.
Like other members of the family, banded pipefish have a bit of a backwards mating system. The female lays her eggs in the males brood pouch, where he fertilizes them and and then incubates them until hatching. So basically the male pipefish gets pregnant instead of the female. Sounds pretty good to me.
I’m always a sucker for oddly shaped animals, so I’m quite the fan of the banded pipefish. Plus, it’s brightly coloured, which is even better. What a great fish.
Cover Image by Rickard Zerpe, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons