Syngnathoides biaculeatus 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Actinopterygii Syngnathiformes Syngnathidae

Scientific Name: Syngnathoides biaculeatus (Bloch, 1785)
Common Name(s):
English Alligator Pipefish, Double-ended Pipefish, Painted Flute Mouth, Spiraltail Pipefish, Spiraltail Pipefish
French Longue-flûte
Stigmatophora unicolor Castelnau, 1875
Sygnathoides biaculeatus (Bloch, 1785) [orth. error]
Syngnathoides blochii Bleeker, 1851
Syngnathus biaculeatus Bloch, 1785
Syngnathus tetragonus Thunberg, 1776
Taxonomic Source(s): Dawson, C.E. 1985. Indo-Pacific Pipefishes (Red Sea to the Americas). The Gulf Coast Research Laboratory Ocean Springs, Mississippi, USA.
Taxonomic Notes:

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2017
Date Assessed: 2016-08-26
Assessor(s): Pollom, R.
Reviewer(s): Ralph, G.
Contributor(s): Bartnik, S., Morgan, S.K., Pogonoski, J., Pollard, D.A. & Paxton, J.R.
Syngnathoides biaculeatus is a coastal pipefish species that inhabits seagrass and algae through much of the Indo-Pacific. To date there have been no range-wide population estimates. The species is known to be used heavily in traditional medicine trade, but methods of capture and levels of offtake are unknown. Although further research is needed in order to determine how trade in this species is affecting wild populations, they are known to be relatively productive, are possibly resilient to fishing pressure, and local studies in some areas have shown population stability. Therefore S. biaculeatus is listed as Least Concern.
Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:

Syngnathoides biaculeatus has a wide geographic range. It has been recorded in surveys and taxonomic overviews from the Red Sea and the African east coast to Knysna, South Africa (Dawson 1985, Dawson 1986).  It is also found in the Indo-Pacific from the east coast of India, throughout the South China Sea and has been recorded as far northward as northern Japan and Korea (Kim et al. 2013). It has been found in three states and one territory in Australia: Western Australia, the Northern Territory, Queensland, and New South Wales (Paxton et al. 1989). It has been recorded near the islands of Micronesia and Samoa (Randall et al. 1997).

Museum Records Worldwide: in Australia, there are 106 specimens (standard length 100-288 mm), collected from a depth range of 0 to 5 m, ranging in geographical distribution from the Timor Sea, Northern Territory south-eastwards to Batemans Bay (35°44’S), New South Wales on the east coast of Australia, and from Ashmore Reef (12°13’S) southwards to Geraldton (28°46’S) on the west coast of Australia. Outside Australia there are specimens from the Andaman Islands, India, Malay Archipelago, Guam, Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands. Specimens were collected between circa 1879 and 1998 (Pogonoski et al. 2002).

Other museum records are available from FishBase and the Ocean Biogeographic Information System (OBIS) and include specimens collected from Fiji, Singapore, Kenya, and Yemen (Froese and Pauly 2016, Ocean Biogeographic Information System 2016). Specimens listed in Fishbase/OBIS have collection dates from 1828 to 2004.
Countries occurrence:
Australia (New South Wales, Northern Territory, Queensland, Western Australia); Egypt; Fiji; India; Indonesia; Japan; Madagascar; Marshall Islands; Micronesia, Federated States of ; Mozambique; Northern Mariana Islands; Papua New Guinea; Philippines; Samoa; Solomon Islands; South Africa; Sri Lanka; Taiwan, Province of China; Tonga
FAO Marine Fishing Areas:
Indian Ocean – eastern; Indian Ocean – western; Pacific – western central; Pacific – northwest; Pacific – southwest
Additional data:
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]


To date there have been no range-wide population estimates for Syngnathoides biaculeatus.  Local studies have been undertaken, such as the Takahashi et al. (2003) (and earlier thesis Takahashi 2000) report on index of population size (CPUE - ~0.2 fish per net) and seasonal changes in Moreton Bay, Queensland. Work in Bootless Bay, PNG found that they were very common (found at all seagrass sites) in moderate abundance (2-6 individuals/100 m²) with no systematic changes across the year (Barrows et al. 2009). Research is needed to determine overall population size and trends in abundance, but there are no indications of decline at this point. 

Current Population Trend:Unknown
Additional data:
Continuing decline of mature individuals:Unknown
Extreme fluctuations:UnknownPopulation severely fragmented:No
Continuing decline in subpopulations:Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in subpopulations:UnknownAll individuals in one subpopulation:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:

Syngnathoides biaculeatus is generally found in seagrass beds or algal flats in the protected shallow waters of lagoons and bays, its colouring matching plants well (Randall et al. 1997). Adults are found in large Sargassum rafts (Kuiter 1996) and juveniles are occasionally found among debris floating offshore (Dawson 1985). In Queensland, Australia, this species is found in estuaries, usually in association with Zostera seagrass, to which it anchors itself by means of its prehensile tail (Grant 1978).

Syngnathoides biaculeatus is a poor swimmer, propelling itself by the winnowing action of the dorsal and pectoral fins (Pogonoski et al. 2002). Some individuals have been observed near the surface of the water or jumping out of the water entirely (Dawson 1986, Kuiter 1996). Prey items include shrimps, fish, and amphipods (Nakamura et al. 2003) as well as other tiny crustaceans (Allen and Swainston 1992).

Syngnathoides biaculeatus is ovoviviparous, and males brood the young beneath their trunk prior to giving live birth (Breder and Rosen 1966, Dawson 1985). They have a breeding season of between October and April in Moreton Bay, Australia (Takahashi et al. 2003) but year-round in Bootless Bay, PNG (Barrows et al. 2009). Males mature and can begin brooding at a length of about 180 mm (Dawson, 1985; Takahashi et al. 2003) although smaller mature males have been observed (Barrows et al.2009). Brood size for males was comparable to that of other syngnathids, at 60-350 eggs (Takahashi et al. 2003, Barrows et al. 2009). 

Syngnathoides biaculeatus has been reported to achieve a maximum length of between 26 to 30 cm (Kuiter 1996, Takahashi et al. 2003) and displays significant size dimorphism, with males growing bigger than females (Takahashi et al. 2003). Although growth of S. biaculeatus has been reported as rapid over a life span of less than two years (Takahashi et al. 2003), more recent studies suggest that growth rates are slower and life spans can reach three years (Barrows et al. 2009).


Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade:

Wild specimens have been dried and used in the Chinese traditional medicine trade for at least 600 years (Shi et al. 1993). They are traded live or dried (Vincent et al. 2011). Individuals are also kept and reared in public aquariums (Lange 1989, Koldewey 2005). Specimens are offered for sale to home/hobby aquarium owners through aquarium retailers (S. Bartnik, pers. obs.). It is not known from where specimens that supply either the traditional medicine trade or the aquarium trade originate, and thus levels of offtake are unknown.  

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s):

This species is targeted by artisanal fishers and may be caught as bycatch in trawl fisheries (Vincent et al. 2011). 

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: There are no species-specific conservation measures in place for Syngnathoides biaculeatus. The species occurs in several protected areas, including Australia's, Ashmore Reef National Nature Reserve, Cartier Island Marine Protected Area, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, and Coburg Marine Park (Pogonoski et al. 2002). It is not mentioned in any international legislation or trade regulations.  In Australia, this species has been identified or protected along with other species by the following conservation actions:
  • In Australia all syngnathids became subject to the export controls of the Commonwealth Wildlife Protection (Regulation of Exports and Imports) Act 1982 on 1 January 1998 (Pogonoski et al. 2002).
  • In Australia, all syngnathids and solenostomids are listed as marine species under section 248 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation  (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: Pollom, R. 2017. Syngnathoides biaculeatus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2017: e.T40715A67622796. . Downloaded on 21 September 2018.
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