That’s a good question and I’m not sure I’ll be able to give you a satisfactory answer at this time.
As you know, Ocean Rider has only been working with captive-bred-and-raised Doryrhamphus pipefish for a couple of years now, Mardean, so I am unable to tell you how long you can expect the red banded pipefish (Doryrhamphus dactyliophorus) to live under aquarium conditions from my own personal experience.
But I suspect that their lifespan is similar to that of cultured seahorses, such as Mustangs and Sunbursts (Hippocampus erectus), since seahorses and pipefish are both syngnathids and are closely related. In that case, you can expect the pipefish to live around 5-10 years or so. The 10 year figure is not unusual for seahorses at the Ocean Rider aquaculture facility, where the ponies benefit from ideal conditions (an open system with ultrapure natural seawater, natural sunlight, and very large enclosures with lots and lots of room to roam) and are cared for by expert aquarist. I should think a lifespan of around five years would be more typical in a home aquarium, however, where the seahorses or pipefish have conditions that are somewhat less ideal (small, closed-system aquariums where the water chemistry is less stable and that make do with artificial lighting and artificial saltwater, under the care of home hobbyists who are not experts with syngnathids and do not have a staff of veterinarians who are experienced working with marine fish backing them up.)
As you might expect, providing your pipefish with good nutrition and optimal water quality at all times is the key to achieving good longevity.
Best wishes with all your fishes, Mardean!
Pete Giwojna, Ocean Rider Tech Support