Halimeda Ghost Pipefish (Solenostomus halimeda) can reach a length of 6.5 cm (2.6 in), and is the smallest of the ghost pipefishes. Its body is most often green, but can be red or any other color of the algae or coral in which it is hiding. This cryptic species looks very similar to the macroalga Halimeda. This uncommon species is related to pipefishes and seahorses. It can be distinguished by its large head that is about the same length as the rest of its body. The caudal fin is small and similar in form and size to the dorsal and pectoral fins.
Dorsal spines (total): 5; Dorsal soft rays (total): 16-18; Anal soft rays: 17 - 19; Vertebrae: 32. This species is distinguished by the following characters: short dorsal, pelvic and caudal fins; truncate or slightly rounded caudal fin; fin membranes entire; olfactory rosette in females with a small dorsal patch of a nasal lamellae, males with a larger patch filling about half of the nasal cavity; no premaxillary spine; fin counts low; multifid dermal papillae; color in live individuals pale green with lighter mottling, spinous dorsal fin membrane between 2 anteriormost spines typically with large black blotches and body with scattered dark spot; small size at maturity, females with eggs 34.3-46.9 mm.
Halimeda Ghost Pipefish's facts
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"Halimeda Ghost Pipefish" as the name suggests it is found living with Halimeda, which is a hard, green calcareous alga that often forms large patches on the reef.
Halimeda Ghost Pipefish habitat
Solenostomus halimeda inhabits coral reefs, and is often associated with coralline algae and Halimeda spp. (Orr et al. 2002, Allen and Erdmann 2012). The species is specialized to be heavily camouflaged by mimicking Halimeda algae (Kuiter et al. 2014). This algae may be obligatory habitat for the species for the purposes of predator avoidance.
Very little is known about the feeding ecology of this species, however another species of ghost pipefish, Solenostomus cyanopterus, is known to feed on small benthic and pelagic invertebrates, mainly crustaceans (Fritzsche and Thiesfeld 1999), and it is suspected that this species is similar. Ghost pipefishes are ambush predators that rely on camouflage in order to hunt (Wetzel and Wourms 1995).
Unlike other syngnathids, female ghost pipefishesbrood the eggs in a pouch formed from their fused pelvic fins (Padmanabahn 1961, Orr and Fritzsche 1993, Wetzel and Wourms 1995).
Halimeda Ghost Pipefish threats
Solenostomus halimeda is under threat from ongoing habitat degradation and loss. Coral reefs are declining globally and within the region as a result of pollution, harmful fishing practices, and the effects of climate change and ocean acidification (Bruno and Selig 2007, Carpenter et al. 2008). The effects of ocean acidification are also likely to negatively affect the Halimeda algae that the species mimics (Price et al. 2011).