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Discovery Passage Aquarium | Video Series: Bay Pipefish

Video Series: Bay Pipefish


Now that you know that the Pacific Northwest is home to the cousins of the seahorses, doesn’t the water seem a little bit warmer? Maybe not, the Bay Pipefish like it cold after all!


Fun facts about Bay Pipefish:


Where can I find Bay Pipefish?

In their natural habitat, Bay Pipefish can be incredibly difficult to find, thanks to their elusive behavior and stunning ability to camouflage with their surroundings. However they are very easy to spot in harbours around Campbell River and can be seen hovering just off the side of docks at night, where there is lots of light shining into the water. The Fisherman’s Wharf, just beside the Discovery Passage Aquarium is a great place to look.

What do Bay Pipefish have in common with seahorses?

Pipefishes, seahorses, and seadragons all belong to the family ‘Syngnathidae’. The ‘Syngnathids’, as they are called, have the following traits in common:

  • Fused jaw bones and tiny mouths
  • Segmented bony plates that cover their skin and act as armour
  • Fathers (males) are responsible for the care of eggs and young:
    • Seahorse fathers have special pouches that the eggs are held in until they hatch
    • Seadragon fathers attach the eggs to their own tails
    • Pipefish fathers either have special egg pouches or attach the eggs to their own tails, depending on the species

Why are Bay Pipefish so difficult to care for?

Along with several other species that we have at the Discovery Passage Aquarium, the Bay Pipefish is a ‘picky eater’. To us, this means they have require a certain food source that can be difficult to gather. Bay Pipefish will only eat live zooplankton and tiny crustaceans that are found in their natural habitats. During the summer, our aquarium interpreters head out to Fisherman’s wharf every day to collect zooplankton from beside the docks to feed our Bay Pipefish.

Lately, we have been experimenting with alternate food supplies for our pipefish. Other aquariums have mastered the technique of ‘training’ their Bay Pipefish to eat frozen food. They found success in tying small pieces of krill to fishing line, pulling the krill through the water, and tricking the pipefish into thinking they are eating living zooplankton. This technique is tricky and requires a lot of patience!

Other picky eaters we have at the aquarium include the Silverspotted Searaven, the Sailfin Searaven, and the Puget Sound King Crab.

How do Bay Pipefish swim?

Pipefish do not ‘swim’ through water as often as they ‘glide’ or ‘hover’ through it! Pipefish have very stiff bodies thanks to the bony armour on their bodies. Instead of swishing their tails, they rapidly flutter their fins to move about their environment.

However, when a Bay Pipefish is threatened however, they will quickly slither through the water much like a snake.

Are Bay Pipefish dangerous?

No. If you find a Bay Pipefish however, try not to touch them. Their fins are very delicate and can be damaged easily. As with any animal in the sea, it is best to leave them be, and observe from a distance.

Weekly Video Series Activities!


Bay Pipefish Colouring Sheet!

This week we have a colouring page drawn specifically for this week! You can find the Bay Pipefish colouring page at the link below. Send us your completed colouring page and win a day pass to the Aquarium for when we re-open!

Send us your completed colouring page by email at: info@DiscoveryPassageAquarium.ca

Or tag us in your Instagram Post: @DPAquarium #DPAquarium

Or send it to us in a message on Facebook: DiscoveryPassageAquarium

Be sure to do so before 10:00AM, Monday, April 27th so we can feature you on our Monday social media posts!

Click here for the colouring sheet!

Click here to learn about Green Sea Urchins!

Click here to learn about Puget Sound King Crabs!

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