The Syngnathidae or Pipefish family includes over 200 species, distributed worldwide except for the polar regions, mostly in marine environments. A small number of species reside in freshwater habitats. The Syngnathidae family is characterized by a body encased in a series of bony rings; a tube-like snout; and a lack of pelvic fins. Eggs are incubated in the abdominal pouch of the male. The Syngnathidae family includes the well-known sea horse.
African Freshwater Pipefish
SYN: Syngnathus ansorgii, S. pulchellus
PD: An elongated, snake-like species having a body encased in a series of bony rings. There are no pelvic fins present, and the anal fin is very small. The mouth is small and tube-shaped. The dorsal fin is located far back on the body. The caudal fin is small and fan-shaped. The back is dark brown and the flanks are light brown. The belly region is blood red in color. The body may be marked with small, irregular yellow spots.
SIZE: To 6" (15 cm)
SS: Smith's Freshwater Pipefish ( Microphis smithi) is also available. This species inhabits rivers with heavy vegetation in Zaire and Nigeria. It can reach 8" (20 cm). Other freshwater/brackish water species that are not commonly available: the Short-tail or Red-line Pipefish ( M. brachyurus ) of the east coast of Southern Africa from Kenya to South Africa and Madagascar; the Freshwater Pipefish ( M. fluviatilis ), having the same distribution; and Ragged-tail Pipefish ( M. retzi) of Western Africa.
S: bottom, middle
HAB: In fresh and brackish water in Western Africa; the Ogoouè River of Gabon, Cameroon, and Equatorial Guinea.
TANK: A 36" (91 cm) or 35-45 gallon (132-170 l) tank is sufficient. The tank should have a sand, preferably coral sand, substrate and be in a location that receives morning sun. Plant the tank heavily with plants that can tolerate the slightly brackish water conditions. The filter should create a moderate current and the tank must be well aerated.
WATER: pH 7-8 (7.5), 10-25 dH (20), 75-82°F (24-28°C). A 0.5% addition of salt is recommended. Add 4 TSP of salt to every 10 gallons (5 g/10 L).
SB: This delicate species must be combined only with other calm species that will not compete for food. Like all pipefish, this species forms a patriarchal family.
SC: Other Pipefish, smaller Synodontis, Pelvicachromis, Poecilia, Freshwater Sole
FOOD: Live; crustaceans; Cyclops; fish fry; worms
SEX: The male has a stomach ridge that becomes a breeding pouch during spawning season.
B: The female spawns above the the males brooding pouch. The eggs stick to his anal opening are covered by two lateral folds which form the sac. The eggs remain in the male's pouch for several months.
BP: 9. Breeding has been accomplished accidentally thus far.
REMARKS: The prey is sucked into the mouth by a vacuum created by the simultaneous closing of the gill covers and the mouth. When the mouth is opened the vacuum is created. This species requires favorable water conditions and frequent partial water changes to prosper.
DC: 8. This delicate species is sensitive to water conditions and disease. It requires live foods and is best kept in a species tank. This species requires the addition of salt.