Cook Islands Biodiversity & Natural Heritage

Microphis brachyurus

Shorttail River Pipefish

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General Information

COMMON NAMES: Shorttail River Pipefish, Short-tailed Pipefish, Possum Pipefish

GLOBAL DISTRIBUTION: NATIVE e.Africa - Societies; n. to s.Japan; s. to New Caledonia

COOK ISLANDS STATUS: Native; S.Group - rare (RR); Marine, entering stream entrances

KEY FEATURES: Very slender rodlike fish to 25cmTL. Long snout, blunt at tip; tail-base long with fan-like fin at tip. Brown with some blackish markings. Body encased in bony rings with three longitudinal ridges on trunk and tail.

SIMILAR SPECIES: Young cornetfishes [Fistulariidae] have stringlike tail, and young trumpetfishes [Aulostomidae] have short tailbase (vs. long slender tail-base with terminal fanlike tail-fin). Other Microphis separated by experts, but none yet recorded in Cook Islands.. NOTE: Female deposits her eggs into an abdominal brood pouch on the male, where they are fertilized and incubated.

Enlarged Image of 'Microphis brachyurus'

Cook Islands Distribution

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Southern Group: Present    Makatea:

Northern Group:

Key to Symbols

Scientific Taxonomy

Microphis brachyurus (Bleeker, 1853)
SYNONYMS: Doryichthys deokhatoides; Oostethus brachyurus; Syngnathus brachyurus Bleeker, 1853

TAXONOMY: ANIMALIA; CHORDATA; GNATHOSTOMATA (Jawed Vertebrates); PISCES; OSTEICHTHYES; Gasterosteiformes; Syngnathoidei; Syngnatha; Syngnathoidea; SYNGNATHIDAE, Syngnathinae

More Information

IDENTIFICATION: To 25cmTL. Very slender with a long snout, making head ~20% of TL, and long slender tail-base with conspicuous fan-like tail. Dorsal Fin inconspicuous on hind-trunk; Anal Fin very small. Brownish, paler below, with diffuse black stripe on side from snout to tail. With armour of bony-rings, forming longitudinal ridges on the sides - 3 on trunk and 3 on tail, lower ridges of trunk and tail-stem NOT continuous, but median trunk ridge continuous with that of the lower tailbase. Male brood pouch is abdominal.

GENERAL NOTE: Members of the Microphis are in fresh or brackish water only.

Vouchers & References

Rarotonga: c.1985 Arbuthnott boys, Avatiu stream, Photo G.McCormack, ID Rudie Kuiter (Aust.) 2003 as Microphis brachyurus.

p.125 Burgess et al. (1988) Atlas of Marine Aquarium Fishes (TFH)
Species No. 257 Munro (1967) Fishes of New Guinea

Data Update History (information):
zTX, zB02, zM02, zD02

Web Resources

Citation Information

McCormack, Gerald (2007) Cook Islands Biodiversity Database, Version 2007.2. Cook Islands Natural Heritage Trust, Rarotonga. Online at Copy citation to system clipboard
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