Straight-nosed pipefish (Nerophis ophidion)

Distribution data supplied by the Ocean Biodiversity Information System (OBIS). To interrogate UK data visit the NBN Atlas.Map Help



Nerophis ophidion is slender and elongate, with a smooth worm like body. Females may grow to 30 cm, males to 20 cm. The slender snout is straight and equal in length to the rest of the head, with a small mouth. Fins are absent apart from a small dorsal fin. Variable in colour but usually green, darker dorsally, lighter green on the sides with whiteish-green or yellow below. Females may have pale blue markings on head and underside, and some fish have vertical rows of spots on the front half of the body.

Recorded distribution in Britain and Ireland

Found around most of the coast of Britain and Ireland, although not recorded from the far north of Scotland.

Global distribution



A coastal species living mostly between about 5 to 25 metres deep and rarely found on the shore. It is commonly found amongst seagrass and long stranded seaweed such as bootlace weed Chorda filum, and hence can be found in both rocky and sandy areas. Nerophis ophidion can also tolerate brackish waters of varying salinity.

Depth range


Identifying features

  • Slender, smooth wormlike body
  • Usually greeny-brown, dark dorsally with paler sides and whiteish green or yellow below.
  • Snout straight and long.
  • Up to 30 cm length.

Additional information

As with seahorses, eggs are incubated by the male pipefish and carried in a shallow abdominal groove. Swimming occurs through undulations of the dorsal fin. Spawning occurs from May to August.

Listed by

- none -


  1. Dipper, F., 2001. British sea fishes (2nd edn). Teddington: Underwater World Publications Ltd.

  2. FishBase, 2000. FishBase. A global information system on fishes. [On-line], 2001-05-03

  3. Hayward, P.J. & Ryland, J.S. (ed.) 1995b. Handbook of the marine fauna of North-West Europe. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  4. Howson, C.M. & Picton, B.E., 1997. The species directory of the marine fauna and flora of the British Isles and surrounding seas. Belfast: Ulster Museum. [Ulster Museum publication, no. 276.]

  5. Wheeler, A., 1969. The fishes of the British Isles and north-west Europe. London: Macmillan.

  6. WoRMS 2007. The World Register of Marine Species (WoRMS)., 2008-10-31


  1. Isle of Wight Local Records Centre, 2017. IOW Natural History & Archaeological Society Marine Records. Occurrence dataset: accessed via on 2018-09-27.

  2. Kent & Medway Biological Records Centre, 2017. Fish: Records for Kent.. Occurrence dataset accessed via on 2018-09-27.

  3. NBN (National Biodiversity Network) Atlas. Available from:

  4. OBIS (Ocean Biodiversity Information System),  2024. Global map of species distribution using gridded data. Available from: Ocean Biogeographic Information System. Accessed: 2024-06-15


This review can be cited as:

Sweet, N. A. 2008. Nerophis ophidion Straight-nosed pipefish. In Tyler-Walters H. and Hiscock K. Marine Life Information Network: Biology and Sensitivity Key Information Reviews, [on-line]. Plymouth: Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom. [cited 15-06-2024]. Available from:

Last Updated: 17/07/2008