The Network pipefish Corythoichthys flavofasciatus is one of the more commonly seen species of pipefish on the Tanzanian coast.
The Network pipefish has a long thin angular body comprised of armored plates. The body colour is an off cream colour. On the upper body a series of yellow and purple markings form a network pattern across the body. The caudal fin is a very light pinkish colour with white dots on the spines. There is a light purple line across the ends of the spines. The lower body has rows of purple dots across it. In Tanzanian waters they seem to grow up to a maximum of 12-15 cm.
NETWORK PIPEFISH IN THE WILD
The Network Pipefish are usually seen on sandy areas and rubble between the reef. If one approaches them very slowly and carefully you can get close to them. Any sudden movement and they will dash off.
The Network Pipefish is found across the Indo West Pacific area from South Africa, north to the Red Sea and across to Southern Japan and South to Australia. They are found on sandy and rubble areas as well as coral reefs from a depth of 1 to 25 meters.
The Network Pipefish feed on small crustaceans, mainly copepods, isopods, amphipods and Mysids. They use their pipette like mouth to suck their prey into their mouths.
After an elaborate courtship dance the female deposits eggs into the specialized brood pouch on the underside of the male. The eggs are then nurtured by the male and this process is thought to take 14 to 17 days. Once the eggs have developed they hatch and are ejected out of the brood pouch.
All pipefish are difficult to keep in the sense that they require live food, but if one can get the right cultures going in ones tank then they can be successfully kept. They can initially be fed brine shrimp but it will be necessary to culture Mysids, copepods, isopods and amphipods.
I once kept a pair very successfully for some 18 months without much of a problem before I accidentally bumped the light fitting into the tank and nearly electrocuted myself. The entire tank died within two days.
They cannot take strong currents and care has to be taken that they are not sucked into the filter.
Ideally they are best kept on their own or with very passive tank mates. I kept mine in a tank with large numbers of small shrimp which bred regularly, producing a steady supply of food for the pipefish who seemed to thrive on this diet. It might be worth trying.