Doryrhamphus excisus

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Common Name/s: Bluestripe Pipefish
Maximum Adult Size: 7cm
Natural Distribution: Indo-Pacific and Eastern Pacific: Persian Gulf and East Africa to the west coast of the Americas
Depth Range: 2 – 50m
Species Notes & Captive Care Notes: Perhaps the most common species in the trade, the Bluestripe, Flagtail or Blue and Orange Cleaner Pipefish is instantly attractive and recognisable with its electric blue stripe, contrasting orange body and white edged fan-like tail. Growing to a maximum length of around 7cm, it is possible to distinguish males from females in this species by noting the presence of tiny serrations along the upper-side of the snout in males, against a smooth snout in females. Actually, this species is best kept in male/female pairs as males will fight relentlessly if housed together. It is quite an easy species to breed in captivity though, with the female depositing eggs into the male’s brooding pouch, which located on his underside. Kept as a pair, they will exhibit interesting ritualised behaviour, particularly when breeding, and the bond between a pair is strong. In the wild, the species has been observed acting as a cleaner fish but in captivity it is relatively easy to feed directly and will take a range of small live or frozen meaty foods from the water column in the absence of more assertive food competitors (I wouldn’t recommend keeping this species with larger fishes and expect it to subsist through cleaning activities alone). Quite shy and peaceful by nature, this species prefers reef habitats with caves, crevices and ledges in waters of up to 50m depth. The species is currently split into 3 subspecies based on distribution and the number of body rings and dorsal rays. D. excisus excisus (Kaup, 1856) is the most common and widely distributed species (Indo and East Pacific) while D. excisus abbreviatus (Dawson, 1981) applies to only the Red Sea and Indo-West subspecies. The third subspecies, D. excisus paulus (Fritzche, 1980) is restricted to the Revillagigedo Islands in the tropical East Pacific.

References / Further Reading:
IUCN page with zoomable range map

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