Identification Guides‎ > ‎Fish‎ > ‎


 Bay Pipefish

(Sygnathus leptorhynchus)

Both adults and juveniles have been observed in Fishing Bay.
     Look for:  Slim body with long, tube-like snout
                       Pale green to dark green or brown
                        2.5 to 33 cm or longer
                        Body fairly rigid
                        Clear sexual dimorphism
                        Males have brood pouches 
                        Females have anal fins
                        Pipefish propel themselves by undulating their 
                           dorsal fin and vibrating their pectoral fin.
     Diet:  Feed on small crustaceans such as amphipods and 
                            copepods which they suck in through their
                            tiny toothless mouths.
    Habitat: Eelgrass beds
                   The pipefish's coloration and tendency to swim
                       parallel to the eelgrass allows it to camouflage
                       in eelgrass meadows.
    Range: Baja California to Prince William Sound, Alaska

    Reproduction: Spawning occurs in late spring to summer. 
    Pipefish are sex-role reversed.  The male takes responsibility 
    for brooding eggs in his abdominal pouch and nourishing 
    young.  Hart (1973) sites an "elaborate reproduction ritual" 
    among bay pipefish in which "the male shakes himself, 
    nods his head and periodically assumes a rigid vertical S
    position, while the female twines herself around him and 
    then transfers the fertilized eggs to the male's brood pouch." 
    The males carry the eggs for several weeks. During this time,
    the offspring are nourished by the male's blood system until 
    embryonic development is complete.  Young are released as
    swimming juveniles around 19 mm in length.
(Please visit the "Oh My! Biology" page to view a video of a male pipefish giving birth to young.)

Threespine Stickleback 

(Gasterosteus aculeatus)

Both adults and juveniles have been observed in Fishing Bay.
     Look for:  Small fish characterized by a row of three dorsal         
                            spines in front of the dorsal fin
                        5 to 10 cm 
                        Scales absent
                        When ready to mate, males develop a red belly 
                            and chin
    Diet:  Feed on plankton and small fish
    Habitat:  The threespine stickleback can inhabit marine waters,
                           fresh water or be anadromous, living primarily in
                           the ocean but venturing into brackish water to 
                           ascending freshwater streams to spawn. 
    Range: Baja California to Bering Sea to Japan and North Korea
    Reproduction: The male stickleback builds a golf ball–sized nest
    using grasses and fibers.  The eggs are placed inside the hollow
    structure.  The male then aggressively guards the nest and 
    cares for the eggs.  He also takes responsibility for guarding the  
    newly hatched larvae.

    Note: Sticklebacks are currently taking a prominent role in 
    the scientific study of evolution.


(Aulorhynchus flavidus)

Both adults and juveniles have been observed in Fishing Bay.
     Look for:  Slender, elongated body
                       Single triangular dorsal fin preceded by many small
                        Long, tubular snout with tiny mouth
                        To 18cm
                        Pale mottled green
                        Body fairly rigid
                        Normal movement is slow and uneven
                        Propel themselves by rapid fin movement
                        Similar body shape as bay pipefish, but pipefish
                            swim vertically while tubesnouts swim 
    Diet:  Small crustaceans and fish larvae
    Habitat:  Usually found in waters less than 10 m, but may occur
                            in water up to 25 m. 
                    Can be found in eelgrass, kelp beds, rocky areas and
                            over sandy bottoms
    Range: Baja California to Southeastern Alaska
    Reproduction: Spawn in spring and early summer.  Breeding
     males may develop a bright red snout and a phosphorescent
     snout.  Like the threespine stickleback, tubesnouts are nesters.
     The male uses a secretion to glue together seaweed to make a
     nest.  Females are lured into the nest where eggs are laid and 
     then fertilized by the male. The male guards the nest for up to 
     three weeks until the eggs hatch and the young swim away.
bay pipefish

bay pipefish

threespine stickleback

image of a Tube Snout