Temporal range: 55.8–0Ma Eocene to Present
The ghost pipefishes (also called false pipefishes or tubemouth fishes) are a small family Solenostomidae in the order Syngnathiformes. The family consists of just a single genus, Solenostomus, with five currently recognized species. Ghostpipefishes are related to pipefishes and seahorses. They are found in tropical waters of the Indian Ocean, from Asia to Africa.
The animals, none of which are longer than 15 centimetres (5.9 in), float near motionlessly, with the mouth facing downwards, around a background that makes them nearly impossible to see. They feed on tiny crustaceans, sucked inside through their long snout. They live in open waters except during breeding, when they find a coral reef or muddy bottom, changing color and shape to minimize visibility.
In many respects, they are similar to the pipefishes, but can be distinguished by the presence of pelvic fins, a prominent, spiny, dorsal fin, and star-shaped plates on the skin. Unlike true pipefish, female ghostpipefishes use their enlarged pelvic fins to brood their eggs until they hatch.
- Solenostomus armatus M. C. W. Weber, 1913 (long-tailed ghost pipefish or armored pipefish)
- Solenostomus cyanopterus Bleeker, 1854 (robust ghost pipefish)
- Solenostomus halimeda J. W. Orr, Fritzsche & J. E. Randall, 2002 (Halimeda ghost pipefish)
- Solenostomus leptosoma S. Tanaka (I), 1908 (delicate ghost pipefish)
- Solenostomus paegnius Jordan & Thompson, 1914 (roughsnout ghost pipefish)
- Solenostomus paradoxus (Pallas, 1770) (ornate ghost pipefish or harlequin ghost pipefish)
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