The Schultz’s pipefish (Corythoichthys schultzi) is one of the more commonly seen species of pipefish on the Tanzanian coast. They are easily recognizable by their longer than normal pipette shaped mouth.
Schultz’s pipefish has a long thin angular body comprised of armored plates. The body colour is an off cream colour. Running along the upper body are a series of short red lines and dots interspersed with less prominent similar yellow markings. On the side of the body there are a series of short white lines and dots. There are a series of irregularly spaced indistinct white bars on the body. The dorsal fin is transparent and the caudal fin is pinky red. The mouth is elongated and is far longer proportionately than on other pipefish. In Tanzanian waters they seem to grow up to a maximum of 12 to 14 cm but they are recorded up to 16 cm.
SCHULTZ’S PIPEFISH IN THE WILD
Schultz’s pipefish are usually seen on sandy areas and rubble between the reef and sometimes on the bottom of the substrate underneath overhangs or on the bottom of small caves. They are quite jumpy and one has to approach them slowly to get close for photographs. If one can find them at night this is the easiest time to photograph them.
Schultz’s 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, east to Tonga. They are found on sandy and rubble areas as well as coral reefs from a depth of 1 to 25 meters.
Schultz’s 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. 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.
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.
SCHULTZ’S PIPEFISH CLASSIFICATION
- The Reef Guide fishes, corals, nudibranchs & other invertebrates: East and South Coasts of Southern Africa by Dennis King & Valda Fraser