During the third week of March, the S.E.A. Aquarium welcomed several alligator pipefish, including a pregnant father.
The alligator pipefish can be found widely from the Red Sea and East Africa to Japan and the Central Pacific. Its scientific name is Syngnathoides biaculeatus and it is the only species under the Syngnathoides genus
The alligator pipefish lives in seagrass beds of tropical waters. Its body shape and color provide great camouflage against predators as the alligator pipefish is hard to distinguish from seagrass blades.
This fish is one of the few species from the pipefish family that can actively use its tail for gripping, like a seahorse. From a systematic viewpoint, it is more closely related to the Leafy Seadragon than to other pipefishes.
It has the same long toothless snout as the other pipefishes. The shape of the mouth allows them to suck their prey at lightning-fast speed. They feed on small shrimps, amphipods and other large planktonic crustaceans in the sea. At the S.E.A. Aquarium, it is fed with mysid shrimps.
Welcoming the expecting father
Among the alligator pipefish which S.E.A.A. welcomed, one was a pregnant male fish.
Similar to seahorses, male pipefish carries the babies. A male alligator pipefish has a brooding pouch where it keeps the embryos nourished. Each egg is oxygenated and nourished through a blood vessel. The egg hatches when still attached to the male.
Most “baby” fish are called fry, and it is the same for the baby alligator pipefish.
An alligator pipefish fry breaks the egg shell by small jerking movements and starts swimming freely as soon as they leave the protection of the egg. The fry is born with a small yolk sac, food reserve which allows it to survive a couple of days without feeding.
Where can you find the alligator pipefish at S.E.A. Aquarium?
S.E.A. Aquarium’s alligator pipefish have been transferred to a sand reef habitat with live algaes.
Razorfishes (Aeoliscus strigatus), alligator pipefishes (Syngnathoides biaculeatus), seamoths and dragonets (Synchiropus picturatus) are displayed along with green seaweeds such as Caulerpa lentillifera and red bamboo seaweed. The habitat is also enhanced with the presence of horse shoe crabs, gobies, blennies and sea stars.
When you visit the S.E.A. Aquarium, try to see if you can differentiate the alligator pipefish from the other pipefishes.