Phoxocampus cf belcheri (Kaup, 1856)

This single small pipefish was found hanging around a crinoid on the top of the seaward reef slope. Because coloration can be so variable among some pipefish, it is not clear if this one is just a variation of Phoxocampus diacanthus. The primary external ways to distinguish them are the number of rays on the pectoral fins and the number of tail rings. Our photos are not quite the right angle to count the pectoral rays and this individual had lost its tail, possibly bitten off. So we cannot make a positive determination. However, it was considerably smaller than our Phoxocampus diacanthus specimens, yet it was an adult. The swelling along the underside of the midsection show the developing offspring. Although we did not get it on film, some of those offspring hatched out of the pouch, looking like tiny thin sticks swimming away in the water.

Created 13 December 2015
Updated 15 December 2015

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