Dragonface Pipefish (Corythoichthys sp.)

$55.00 Sold out

Max Size: 7 inches
Diet: Carnivore
Temperament: Peaceful
Reef Compatible: Yes
Minimum Tank Size: 50 gallons

The Dragonface Pipefish, known by various names such as the Reeftop Pipefish, Messmate Pipefish, Network Pipefish, and Banded Messmate Pipefish, features a slim, elongated body with a small, tubular mouth and a pinkish tail. Its cream-colored body is marked with varying patterns of black, pink, and yellow, making each individual unique. The South Pacific or Tongan Dragonface Pipefish is scientifically recognized as Corythoichthys haematopterus, while the Western Pacific or Indonesian variant is known as Corythoichthys intestinalis. Although these fish are similar in appearance, regional variations have led to suggestions that there could be over 12 sub-species.

The Dragonface Pipefish is not a strong swimmer and prefers to move by sliding its body over substrates and live rocks like a snake, or by anchoring itself to corals or rocks with its tail. While hardy, it has unusual feeding requirements, preferring live copepods in a mature reef aquarium with ample live rock or macroalgae. Nutramar Tigrio Bottled Live Copepods and vitamin-enriched live baby brine shrimp are recommended to initiate feeding, but the majority of its diet should not consist of the latter. Frozen Cyclops, small Mysis, and Nutramar Ova may be added to its diet over time. AlgaGen Tisbe biminiensis is an ideal food source for pipefish.

This social species thrives in mated pairs or groups in an aquarium of at least 50 gallons. It can coexist with small, timid fish such as small gobies, seahorses, dragonets, and firefish, but not with aggressive or fast-moving fish. While more tolerant of corals and larger fish, it can be harmed by anemones and corals with strong stinging tentacles or large enough to consume it, such as brain corals, as well as by invertebrates such as crabs, large shrimp, and clams. However, ornamental shrimp and invertebrates are not harmed.

In addition to its unique appearance and behavior, the Dragonface Pipefish has been found to consume the micro-amphipod called "Red Bugs" that have become a common issue in reef aquariums housing Acropora coral. Red Bug infestations inhibit polyp extension and growth and can cause color shifts or loss. Once acclimated to the reef aquarium's surroundings and tankmates, the pipefish will seek out these pests as a food source.