Syngnathidae

Seahorses, pipefish, weedy and leafy sea dragons are all found in the family Syngnathidae. Their family name is derived from the Greek ‘syn’ meaning fused or together and ‘grathus’ meaning jaws. This fused jaw trait is something the whole family have in common. These fish have protruding snouts and bodies encased in bony rings.

Pipefish are very elongated with their head at the same angle as their body, whereas the seahorse swims in an upright position, their head held at an angle to the body so that it points forwards. A seahorse’s tail is distinctive because it is curled.

Yellow banded pipefishseahorse

The Syngnathidae is a family of mostly marine fish and include two subcategories the Hippocampinae, which compromises of 47 species of seahorse and 2 crested pipefish, and Syngnathinae, which compromises of 200 species of pipefish (including weedy and leafy sea dragon).

Syngnathids have rigid armour plating covering their whole body and are slow swimming fish found mostly in shallow waters in tropical or subtropical waters around the world, however a few pipefish are found in open ocean environments, especially in association with floating Sargassum seaweed.

Members of this family feed on small invertebrates which they suck into their tubular mouth.

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