Overview

Comprehensive Description

Description

  Common names: pipefish (English), pez-pipa (Espanol)
 
Microphis brachyurus lineatus (Kaup, 1856)

Opossum pipefish

Head long (15-22% of SL), without spines; snout very long (50-67% of head length), slender (~ 11% of snout length), straight; mouth strongly oblique, rising above tip of snout; well developed horizontal ridge across center of operculum, with several oblique ridges below it;  ridges along upper side of body and of tail not joined; ridge on midside of body joins ridge on lower side of tail; lower body ridge ends at level of anus, ridges spiny in juveniles, +/- small spines in adults; trunk rings 17-21, tail with 20-26 rings; oval plates between body rings without longitudinal keels; brood pouch under trunk, with vertical plates that are not folded;  dorsal fin long, 37-54 rays, origin on trunk; pectoral broad base, short fin, central rays shorter than outer rays, 17-23 rays; anal fin tiny, 4 rays; tail fin small, 9 rays.

Brownish grey; dark stripe along snout, through eye, across operculum and along upper back to dorsal fin; dorsal fin with brown vertical streaks between rays; tail fin blackish.



        Size: 19.5 cm.

Habitat: estuaries and freshwater.

Depth: shallow 0-10 m.

        A West Atlantic species that has passed through the Panama Canal to Panama Bay and spread westward to Costa Rica.
   
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Biology

Found among floating Sargassum. Ovoviviparous (Ref. 205). The male carries the eggs in a brood pouch which is found under the tail (Ref. 205).
  • Dawson, C.E. 1984 Revision of the genus Microphis Kaup (Pisces: Syngnathidae). Bull. Mar. Sci. 35(2):117-181. (Ref. 26455)
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Distribution

occurs (regularly, as a native taxon) in multiple nations

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National Distribution

United States

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

Type of Residency: Year-round

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Zoogeography

See Map (including site records) of Distribution in the Tropical Eastern Pacific 
 
Global Endemism: All species, TEP non-endemic, Exotic (Introduced)

Regional Endemism: All species, Eastern Pacific non-endemic, Tropical Eastern Pacific (TEP) non-endemic, Continent, Continent only

Residency: Vagrant

Climate Zone: Equatorial (Costa Rica to Ecuador + Galapagos, Clipperton, Cocos, Malpelo)
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North, Central and South America and Caribbean islands; Mexico to Brazil.
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Western Atlantic: New Jersey and eastern Florida (USA), Bahamas, Antilles, and from Veracruz, Mexico to Sao Paulo, Brazil.
  • Dawson, C.E. 1979 Review of the polytypic doryrhamphine pipefish Oostethus brachyurus (Bleeker). Bull. Mar. Sci. 29(4):465-480. (Ref. 13286)
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North, Central and South America and Caribbean islands; Mexico to Brazil.
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Depth

Depth Range (m): 0 (S) - 10 (S)
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Physical Description

Morphology

Size

Length max (cm): 95.0 (S)
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Size

Maximum size: 950 mm ---
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Max. size

95.0 cm TL (male/unsexed; (Ref. 5521))
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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat Type: Freshwater

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Environment

pelagic-neritic; oceanodromous (Ref. 51243); freshwater; brackish; marine
  • Riede, K. 2004 Global register of migratory species - from global to regional scales. Final Report of the R&D-Projekt 808 05 081. Federal Agency for Nature Conservation, Bonn, Germany. 329 p. (Ref. 51243)
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Depth range based on 19 specimens in 1 taxon.
Water temperature and chemistry ranges based on 3 samples.

Environmental ranges
  Depth range (m): 0 - 74
  Temperature range (°C): 22.767 - 27.525
  Nitrate (umol/L): 0.376 - 3.778
  Salinity (PPS): 35.665 - 36.260
  Oxygen (ml/l): 4.180 - 4.814
  Phosphate (umol/l): 0.112 - 0.326
  Silicate (umol/l): 1.042 - 2.114

Graphical representation

Depth range (m): 0 - 74

Temperature range (°C): 22.767 - 27.525

Nitrate (umol/L): 0.376 - 3.778

Salinity (PPS): 35.665 - 36.260

Oxygen (ml/l): 4.180 - 4.814

Phosphate (umol/l): 0.112 - 0.326

Silicate (umol/l): 1.042 - 2.114
 
Note: this information has not been validated. Check this *note*. Your feedback is most welcome.

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Salinity: Brackish, Freshwater, Non Marine

Inshore/Offshore: Inshore, Inshore Only

Water Column Position: Bottom, Bottom only

Habitat: Macroalgae, Soft bottom (mud, sand,gravel, beach, estuary & mangrove), Soft bottom only, Estuary, Mangrove, Freshwater

FishBase Habitat: Pelagic
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Migration

Non-Migrant: No. All populations of this species make significant seasonal migrations.

Locally Migrant: No. No populations of this species make local extended movements (generally less than 200 km) at particular times of the year (e.g., to breeding or wintering grounds, to hibernation sites).

Locally Migrant: No. No populations of this species make annual migrations of over 200 km.

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Oceanodromous. Migrating within oceans typically between spawning and different feeding areas, as tunas do. Migrations should be cyclical and predictable and cover more than 100 km.
  • Riede, K. 2004 Global register of migratory species - from global to regional scales. Final Report of the R&D-Projekt 808 05 081. Federal Agency for Nature Conservation, Bonn, Germany. 329 p. (Ref. 51243)
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Trophic Strategy

Feeding

Feeding Group: Carnivore, Planktivore

Diet: mobile benthic crustacea (shrimps/crabs), zooplankton, pelagic fish eggs
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Life History and Behavior

Life Cycle

Male carries the eggs in a brood pouch (Ref. 205).
  • Breder, C.M. and D.E. Rosen 1966 Modes of reproduction in fishes. T.F.H. Publications, Neptune City, New Jersey. 941 p. (Ref. 205)
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Reproduction

Egg Type: Brooded, Pelagic larva
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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Statistics of barcoding coverage: Microphis brachyurus lineatus

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 8
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

National NatureServe Conservation Status

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: N2 - Imperiled

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: T4 - Apparently Secure

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IUCN Red List: Not evaluated / Listed

CITES: Not listed
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Threats

Not Evaluated
  • IUCN 2006 2006 IUCN red list of threatened species. www.iucnredlist.org. Downloaded July 2006.
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Wikipedia

Opossum Pipefish

Microphis brachyurus lineatus (opossum pipefish) is a U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service Species of Concern. Species of Concern are those species about which the U.S. Government’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Marine Fisheries Service, has some concerns regarding status and threats, but for which insufficient information is available to indicate a need to list the species under the U.S. Endangered Species Act (ESA).

Species Description[edit]

Opossum pipefish are a widespread species that spawn in low salinity areas of estuaries. The color of the opossum pipefish is distinctive, especially in breeding adults: the upper snout and back half of the head and body is sienna brown with a series of dark red blotches on each lateral trunk ring forming a red stripe between the lateral and superior trunk ridges; there is a silver stripe on the mid-side between the lateral and inferior trunk ridges, a silver edge on the inferior trunk ridge; the lower half of the snout is bright red with a variable number of black vertical bars, and the caudal fin is also red with a central dark stripe.

Ecology[edit]

Nothing is known about annual variation in population size, but the decline in habitat quality (described below) has likely led to a drastic decrease in population size.

Conservation[edit]

The major threats to the opossum pipefish are habitat destruction, water control structures, declining water quality, and an increase in disease. These factors have been documented within the primary ecosystems occupied by opossum pipefish.

Conservation Designations[edit]

IUCN[1]: Not Evaluated

American Fisheries Society: Threatened

Species of Greatest Conservation Need:FL, LA, and TX.

Status Reviews[edit]

None

References[edit]

NMFS. Species of Concern Fact Sheet[2]. 2008

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