actually pipefish. They are members of the family Solenostomidae. They are closely
related to both seahorses
and pipefish of the
Ghost pipefish fall into a single genus, Solenostomus.
This genus is comprised of
only 5 species.
These species are endemic to the tropical waters from the Indian to the
Pacific Oceans. They inhabit shallow water reef formations from
southern Japan to Australia.
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both in appearance and in behavior. This species more
resembles a form of coral more than it does a fish. They actually spend
majority of their lives upside down. They drift nearly motionless just
coral reef or the ocean floor with their mouths pointed downwards. This
upside down existence is essential to
their feeding habits. They feed by sucking up tiny crustaceans through
elongated snouts. Ghost pipefish are commonly referred to as false
tubemouth fish. The latter refers to their long, cylindrical shaped
heads in fact account for almost 1/3 of their total body length.
The largest species of ghost pipefish only grows
to a maximum length of 6 inches. There are a number of anatomical
that distinguish real from the false pipefish. Instead of armored
are laden with large bony, star-shaped plates. Ghosts have two dorsal
whereas seahorses and pipefish have only one. Seahorses and pipefish
pelvic fins. Ghosts possess enlarged pelvic fins. In females these fins
together to form a brood pouch. Unlike seahorses and pipefish, the
these species carry the eggs through to maturation rather than the
can not only change color, they can change their physical shape as well.
creatures to even the most experienced divers and
underwater photographers. They are virtual masters of disguise. They
of their time among host fauna such as crinoids, soft corals, sea
hydroids. They can change their shape and color to mimic their hosts to
point where they blend right in with the host almost seamlessly. Ornate
pipefish have elaborate projections covering their heads and bodies to
further camouflage themselves against their backgrounds.
Of the 5
species in this
their genius only two appear to have documentation
of any consequence; the ornate or harlequin ghost pipefish (Solenostomus paradoxus) and the robust
ghost pipefish (Solenostomus cyanopterus). A thorough search online failed to reveal a
single retailer for these exotic species.