information on the biology of species and the ecology of habitats found around the coasts and seas of the British Isles

Oaten pipes hydroid (Tubularia indivisa)

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



A large hydroid 10-15 cm in height with a solitary polyp. The polyp and tentacles have a diameter of about 1.5 cm. Stems are erect, clustered together and fuse with each other towards the base of the colony, which has a tough yellowish coloured natural outer layer. The polyps are conical or flask shaped and richly coloured with various shades of pink to red. The polyp looks flower-like and consists of a central circlet of about 40 oral tentacles surrounded by about 20-30 paler but larger aboral tentacles. Polyps are often present only in the spring and are eaten by nudibranchs leaving the stems.

Recorded distribution in Britain and Ireland

Widespread through Britain and Ireland.

Global distribution



Tubularia indivisa grows on various hard substrata in a wide range of water depths from rocks in the intertidal, or in shallow water near shore, and at great depths. It is particularly abundant on exposed to strong tidal currents.

Depth range


Identifying features

  • Large polyps with an outer ring of aboral tentacles and an inner cluster of oral tentacles.
  • Single and unbranched stems arise from clustered mass at the base.
  • Stems are 10-15 cm in height.
  • Yellowish stems with pink to red polyps.

Additional information

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Listed by

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Further information sources

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  1. Allman, G.J., 1871-1872. A monograph of the Gymnoblastic or Tubularian hydroids, Vol. I & II. London: Ray Society.

  2. BIOMAERL team, 1999. Biomaerl: maerl biodiversity; functional structure and anthropogenic impacts. EC Contract no. MAS3-CT95-0020, 973 pp.

  3. Cornelius, P.F.S., 1990a. European Obelia (Cnidaria, Hydroida): systematics and identification. Journal of Natural History, 24, 535-578.

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

  5. Hincks, T., 1868. A history of the British hydroid zoophytes, vol. I & II. London: van Voorst.

  6. JNCC (Joint Nature Conservation Committee), 1999. Marine Environment Resource Mapping And Information Database (MERMAID): Marine Nature Conservation Review Survey Database. [on-line]


This review can be cited as:

Edwards, R.V. 2008. Tubularia indivisa Oaten pipes hydroid. In Tyler-Walters H. and Hiscock K. (eds) Marine Life Information Network: Biology and Sensitivity Key Information Reviews, [on-line]. Plymouth: Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom. [cited 21-09-2018]. Available from:

Last Updated: 08/05/2008