Re:pipefish eggs

Pete Giwojna

Dear Mardean:

Congratulations on your breeding pair of Ocean Rider red banded pipefish (Doryrhamphus dactyliophorus)!

Like the seahorses, these pipefish are livebearers and give birth to independent babies that are miniature replicas of themselves, except that the newborn pipes are totally transparent. They look like glass splinters or tiny transparent threads. The newborns are phototactic (attracted toward light) and will therefore gather at the top of the aquarium when they are born.

Of course, the latter habit will put the newborns at grave risk from the overflow in your 65-gallon reef system, Mardean. You will need to either relocate the pipefish prior to giving birth, which may be difficult to accomplish in a large reef tank, or screen off the overflow somehow so that the newborns will not be drawn into it.

Otherwise, the newborns can be reared using much the same techniques that are appropriate for raising pelagic seahorse fry. They will do best when started out with rotifers or larval copepods as their first foods. The same rearing methods work equally well for most members of the genus Doryrhamphus.

I would recommend using a method similar to that of Alexander Cliffe, the Senior Aquarist for the Zoological Society of London, described below:

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I managed to rear a similar species, Doryrhampus japonicus several years ago up to about 28 days but then I went away on holiday and the inevitable happened! When the fry hatched they were scuttling around on the surface and were about 6mm long (make sure there are no overflows on the parent tank!). I carefully transferred them to a 100 litre tank with all sides blacked out including the top with black bin bags. I made a small hole at the top and clipped a domestic bedside lamp to it to create a pillar of light (approx 2cm in diameter) down to the bottom. I fed them exclusively on rotifers enriched with a HUFA solution and when the rotifers were put into the tank they were attracted to the light and pretty much the entire density stayed within the range of the pillar of light which in turn attracted the fry over to feed. This minimised energy expenditure for the fry to swim around hunting for food which can be counterproductive in such a large volume in relation to their size. I managed to get them up to about 15mm long and at this point they started developing colouration on their caudal fin, it’s a shame I never got another chance to breed them again!

I am sure there are other techniques out there but this ‘Heath Robinson’ approach seemed to work for me!

Let me know how you get on!

Alex Cliffe
Senior Aquarist, Aquarium
Zoological Society of London
Regent’s Park
London NW1 4RY
tel: +44 (0)20 7449 6482 fax: +44 (0)20 7483 0117
mobile: 07814129668
email: [email protected] <mailto:[email protected]>
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Best wishes with your new pipefish, Mardean!

Pete Giwojna, Ocean Rider Tech Support

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