The gulf pipefish is a slender,
elongate fish that grows 3.5 Ė 6 inches, with females generally larger than
males. to 6 inches. Males and females differ in appearance, with females
having somewhat deeper bodies, a V-shaped abdomen, and distinctive silvery
stripes along the trunk. Body color also differs between the sexes, with
females being an olive brown color, and males being much lighter. Gulf pipefish
have no pelvic fins, but the elongate dorsal fin extends across 3 rings of
dermal armor on the body and 5 on the tail.
It typically inhabits shallow, densely
vegetated, areas less than 20 feet in depth. They are common in nearshore and estuarine waters
where they are most commonly associated with seagrasses and drift algae.
Gulf pipefishes do especially well in disturbed habitat areas. It is the only species among the 24
North American pipefishes that is known to enter freshwater areas.
Gulf pipefish range from Florida
and Louisiana through the Gulf of Mexico, Central and South America to
Brazil. It is the most abundant pipefish in both Florida and the Gulf
of Mexico. The northern limit for this species was historically
thought to be around the mouth of the St. Johnís River in east central
however, an established breeding population has been discovered in northern
Georgia in 1984.