Solegnathus robustus 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Actinopterygii Syngnathiformes Syngnathidae

Scientific Name: Solegnathus robustus McCulloch, 1911
Common Name(s):
English Robust Pipehorse, Robust Spiny Pipehorse, 强壮刀海龙
Taxonomic Source(s): McCulloch, A. R. 1911. Report on the fishes obtained by the F. I. S. "Endeavour," on the coasts of New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania. Biological Results Endeavour 1(1): 1-87, pls. 1-16.
Taxonomic Notes:

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Data Deficient ver 3.1
Year Published: 2008
Date Assessed: 2008-01-01
Assessor(s): Pogonoski, J., Pollard, D., Paxton, J., Morgan, S. & Bartnik, S.
Reviewer(s): Martin-Smith, K. & Caldwell, I. (Syngnathid Red List Authority)

This species is assessed as Data Deficient as there is no information available that provides estimates of population size, life history and ecology, and/or exploitation levels. More study is needed to accurately determine its taxonomic and conservation status. In addition, there is no evidence of any decline for this species and catch statistics are unavailable to our knowledge.


The previous assessment of this species was based on the 1994 IUCN Red List Categories and criteria version 2.3. This assessment was precautionary and designated S. robustus as Vulnerable (A2d) based, in part, on preliminary observations of  the international trade of syngnathids for traditional medicines (Vincent 1996). Further research on the trade of pipefishes and pipehorses has, however, revealed that a limited number of pipefish and pipehorse species are involved in international trade (Martin-Smith et al. 2003, Martin-Smith and Vincent 2006). Reassessment of S. robustus using the 2001 IUCN Red List Categories and Criteria version 3.1, suggests that a designation of Data Deficient is more appropriate at this time, based on the dearth of available information regarding population size and structure. A listing of Data Deficient does not imply that the taxon is not threatened but that not enough information exists to quantify or even estimate extinction risk. Application of the category Data Deficient is a call for more research and scrutiny to be directed at this species.


The information available for S. robustus is limited to distribution and potential threats. The taxon has been included in taxonomic overviews of syngnathids (Dawson 1985, Paxton et al. 1989) and although this species is not well represented in museum collections, it is apparently fairly common in its depth range, at least in South Australia (Gomon et al. 1994). It has been suggested by some researchers familiar with species of the genus Solegnathus that trawled specimens may not survive if released due to prolapse (K. Graham pers. comm.). 


Nothing is known about the biology of this species. Further research is necessary to accumulate information on the basic biological and population dynamics characteristics of this species (Pogonoski et al. 2002). Although it is likely that this species has specific habitat preferences that determine its abundance within its range, little or no research has focused on the critical habitat for this species (Pogonoski et al. 2002). Accurate distribution and depth data are needed to identify key habitats (Pogonoski et al. 2002).
Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:

Solegnathus robustus is endemic to the coastal waters of southern Australia (Dawson 1985). The species has been verified to be found from Spencer Gulf (Port Weyland) westwards to Flinders Island in South Australia  (Pogonoski et al. 2002, Hoese et al. 2007). The species is suspected to occur beyond the known distribution, however further scientific surveys in the Great Australian Bight are needed to validate this suspected range extension.

Museum Records from Australian Fish Collections (Pogonoski et al. 2002): there are 25 specimens (standard length to 300 mm), trawled from a depth range of 55–68 m (many specimens do not have depths recorded), ranging in geographical distribution from Port Weyland (34°56’S, 137°05’E), SA westwards to Flinders Island (33°43’S, 134°31’E), SA. Specimens were collected between 1909 and 1982.


Australian Marine Protected Areas in Which the Species Occurs (Pogonoski et al. 2002): it is possible that that S. robustus occurs in the Great Australian Bight Marine Park, Southern Australia.

Countries occurrence:
FAO Marine Fishing Areas:
Indian Ocean – eastern
Additional data:
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]


No information is available regarding population dynamics for S. robustus, including any evidence of population increases or declines.

Current Population Trend:Unknown
Additional data:

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:


Solegnathus robustus is a temperate-water pipehorse, which occurs in benthic habitats of the continental shelf (Paxton et al. 1989) and has been recorded in depths of 42-68 m (Dawson 1985).


Behaviour and Biology

The smallest examined brooding male of this species was 314 mm total length (Dawson 1985). Males of all species within the genus Solegnathus allow females to deposit eggs on the underside of their tales (Dawson 1985). Pipehorses probably rely on camouflage to avoid predators. The diet is unknown but like other species in the family, S. robustus probably feeds on small crustaceans (Pogonoski et al. 2002).



Solegnathus robustus attains a total length of at least 350 mm (Dawson 1985).


Critical Habitats

No critical habitats have been identified. It is likely that this species has specific habitat preferences that determine its abundance within its range, but little or no research has focused on the critical habitats for this species.


Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade:

Although some Australian syngnathids are used for traditional Chinese medicine, there is no information on the use of this species at this time.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s):

Commercial trawl fishing in the Great Australian Bight has been suggested as a potential threat to this species, as individuals could be captured as bycatch (Pogonoski et al. 2002). However, no information exists on verified threats to the species.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions:

In Australia, S. robustus has been identified or protected under several pieces of legislation. All syngnathids became subject to the export controls of the Commonwealth Wildlife Protection (Regulation of Exports and Imports) Act 1982 from 1 January 1998 (Pogonoski et al. 2002) All syngnathids and solenostomids were listed as marine species under section 248 of the EPBC Act 1999 (Pogonoski et al. 2002).


This species is listed as Data Deficient by the Australian Society for Fish Biology (ASFB) in its 2001 Conservation Status of Australian Fishes document, the most recent AFSB listing available (ASFB 2007).

Citation: Pogonoski, J., Pollard, D., Paxton, J., Morgan, S. & Bartnik, S. 2008. Solegnathus robustus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2008: e.T20317A9185513. . Downloaded on 20 October 2017.
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