According to present knowledge, some 14 pipefish species are recognized in Europe, Mediterranean and Black Sea. You will find below identification criteria for the most common European Syngnathus species.
NB To download our pipefish identification guide (PDF in French), click here.
How to recognize a Syngnathus?
Pipefish of the genus Syngnathus have a typical, well developed and functional caudal fin. Male have a brood pouch to carry the eggs, under the tail part of body.
Size : 30-40 cm (max. 46 cm). Found everywhere along European and Mediterranean coasts, and Black sea (to be checked).
ID criteria: • Long snout (7 to 9 times longer than high). • Generally there is a bump on the nape, and the head is at an angle with the body. • A crawling species almost always in contact with the bottom.
To consult our photo database on the narrow-snouted pipefish, click here.
Lesser pipefish (or Nilsson's pipefish)
Size : 15-17 cm. Western Europe, a few observations in North-West Mediterranean sea.
ID criteria: • Straight snout, rather short (about half the length of the head). • Green to brown with vertical light streak on adult females. • Generally found very close to shore. NB Mediterranean populations of this species can look quite different in different places.
To consult our photo database on the black-striped pipefish, click here.
Size : 20-25 cm. Adriatic sea, possibly North-Western Mediterranean sea.
ID criteria: • Straight flat snout (7 times longer than high). • Colour highly variable : beige to brown, sometimes bright green. • Specimens referred to this species in Thau lagoon (France) are always seen swimming, often horizontally, sometimes vertically; specimens photographed in the Adriatic seem to lay on the bottom.
To consult our photo database on the Adriatic pipefish, click here.
Atlantic deep-snouted pipefish
Syngnathus typhle typhle
Size : 20-25 cm (to be verified). European Atlantic coasts.
ID criteria: • Long snout compressed laterally, as high as the body. • Squarish snout shape with somewhat prominent chin. • Often swimming very close to bottom, sometimes vertical among Posidonia sea grass; may also lay on the bottom.
To consult our photo database on the Mediterranean deep-snouted pipefish, click here.