The Dragonface Pipefish, also known as the Dragon Pipefish, Messmate Pipefish, or Reeftop Pipefish, is a long sleek fish with a body shape similar to that of an eel.
It is difficult to keep in an aquarium for the beginner, but is well suited for the advanced aquarist when maintained with other pipefish and seahorses in 30 gallons or larger aquariums. These pipefish will not harm ornamental invertebrates in a reef setting, and requires plenty of hiding places such as caves or overhangs. The fish use their tail to anchor themselves on coral branches and other structured objects when searching for food, and are very interesting additions to the home aquarium. The Dragonface Pipefish reacts poorly when harassed by other more aggressive fish such as: blennies, larger wrasses, large gobies, triggerfish, and porcupinefish.
When first introduced into the aquarium, live saltwater feeder shrimp should be used to entice this fish to eat. The diet should consist of small, live invertebrates such as brine shrimp, amphipods, tiny grass shrimp, mosquito larva, and daphnia. It needs to be fed at several times per day, and is a very slow eater because of its tiny tubular mouth.
This species of pipefish has been found to consume the micro-amphipod commonly referred to as the dreaded "Red Bugs" that have now become prevalent in reef aquariums that contain Acropora coral. Red Bug infestations on Acropora corals have been shown to inhibit polyp extension and growth, while causing shifts or loss in coloration. After the pipefish is accustomed to the surroundings and tankmates in the reef aquarium, they will quickly seek out these red bugs as a food source.
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