St. Louis Zoo's New Baby Bongo
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Ever See Pipefish Babies?


The Tennessee Aquarium recently received a shipment of 10 wild-caught Alligator Pipefish. Among them were two pregnant males, one of which delivered a few babies upon arrival. Female Pipefish lay between 60 and 200 eggs on the abdomen of the male and he develops a thin membrane around them.  His abdomen becomes soft and spongy, allowing the eggs to receive nutrients from him. Babies hatch after approximately 3 weeks and are about one centimeter in length. That's less than half the length of their father's snout! But this species grows rapidly, with males attaining a length of close to a foot and females being slightly smaller.

Pipefish have a prehensile tail like a seahorse that they use to hitch onto just about anything around them, including each other. They'll hang out in a backup area at the Aquarium until they are big enough to be placed on exhibit. In the wild, alligator pipefish (Signathoides biaculeatus) are found throughout the Indo-Pacific ocean. 

2 cm

Adult w babies

Holding tails
Photo Credit: Tennessee Aquarium

Read more about these fascinating pipefish after the jump:

According to assistant curator of fishes Carol Haley, the strange-looking, elongated bodies help them avoid predators. "These close relatives of seahorses resemble a string bean in appearance," said Haley. "This helps them camouflage themselves where they live, in sea grass beds and sargassum mats."

These little creatures are an active group. They swim around and siphon up the tiny rotifers that Aquarists provide them for food. They are fed three times each day.