Rainbow Belly Pipefish (Microphis Deocata)



Rainbow Belly Pipefish is a freshwater pipefish species belonging to the Syngnathidae family. It is native to the Brahmaputra River basin in Bangladesh and India and lives in rivers, streams, and lakes among aquatic plants. The numbers of this species diminished in the wild over the past decade due to flooding and pollution of the Brahmaputra River. It is considered a ‘Near Threatened’ species and is rarely available in the aquarium trade.

Rainbow Belly Pipefish grows up to 15 cm and has an average lifespan of 2 to 5 years. It has a slender body with light green coloration. The females of this species have a colorful-striped sail that they extend during the mating ritual. As in all the species belongs to the Microphis genus, the males of this species carry the fertilized eggs in a brood pouch extending along the entire ventral surface.

It is a very difficult fish to keep like all other freshwater pipefish and does best in a species-only tank. Microphis Deocata has a shy nature and easily gets out-competed for food by any fish that feeds off the surface or other levels of the water column. The only tank mates that could work with Rainbow Belly Pipefish are bottom-feeders like shrimp, Plecostomus and Corydoras species.

Water Parameters:

Temperature: 22-25°C
pH: 6,0 – 7,5
Hardness: 3 – 10 dGH

Rainbow Belly Pipefish need slightly cold water without too much flow. It is a fully freshwater species, unlike many other pipefishes that tend to have tolerance towards brackish waters as well. The aquarium must be heavily planted with lots of plants that allow them to hide or be attached to. The water must be slightly acidic to neutral and have low salt concentrations.


Rainbow Belly Pipefish is a micro-predator that feeds on micro-crustaceans and insect larvae in its natural habitat. It only feeds on small live foods like the nauplii of brine shrimp, Copepods, and Daphnia in the aquarium. It usually doesn’t eat fully grown shrimps, but may picks off the eggs from berried females like the Ghost Shrimps (Thalassinidea). A good strategy is to introduce daphnia Moina or Magna cultures in the tank. While the adults are too large for the Rainbow Belly Pipefish, they will produce nauplii, which will serve as a constant food source to the pipefish.

Commercially sold aquatic mosses like Java moss are also a good choice to decorate the tank and since they usually come with a culture of infusoria or other small crustaceans which can also provide some live foods.



Rainbow Belly Pipefish requires to be fed with live foods and good water conditions to breed. The females of this species extend their colorful sails when they are in breeding condition and during courting they perform an accordion-like movement. In case they paired the male fertilizes the egg in the female’s belly.

After fertilization, the female deposits the eggs into the brood pouch of the male and remain there until the end of the incubation period. About 15 days later, the eggs will hatch and the fully developed young pipefish will be released from the pouch.

The newborn pipefish will be around 1,5 cm in size. They must be fed with daphnia, baby brine shrimp or infusoria. It is important to make ready the food source for the babies before they hatched from the eggs.

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