A popular Critter not only seen in Lembeh Strait but surely more common here than in many other places is the Ornate Ghostpipefish (Solenostomus paradoxus). And for many divers it is the first step to bring them into Critter Diving. For a good reason: The Ornate Ghostpipefish is stunningly beautiful, has a bizarre way of swimming and is reasonably sized. This Fish is a relative to the seahorses and pipefishes and belongs to the family of Ghostpipefishes (Solenostomidae). It spends all of his life swimming head down and grows to about 10-12cm in size. Ornate Ghostpipefishes come in different colourations: White-Red, Gold-Red or Black-Golden. They like to hide in Black Coral bushes, Crinoids or Algae that match their colour. They can be seen solitary but are most often seen in either pairs or even smaller groups of up to 4, 5, 6 or even more. The smaller thinner individuals are the males and the bigger ones with the big pectoral fins are the females. In these “pouches” the female keeps the eggs – unlike the seahorses, where the male carries the eggs. The juveniles are transparent and have very attractive fins. Ghostpipefishes feed mainly on mysids or small shrimps but can also eat small fishes at times. 

Ornate Ghostpipefishes can be virtually found anywhere in the Lembeh Strait: On Coral Dives, Muck Dives and Rubble places and even on the NAD-Lembeh Housereef. Besides the Ornate Ghostpipefish there are also the Robust, the Halimeda, the Roughsnout, the Velvet and the Slender Ghostpipefish to be found in Lembeh Strait.

To photograph the whole animal a 60mm Macro is recommended for adults … a 100mm (on APSC) can be too long to shoot the whole animal in profile (which is the classic angle for Ghostpipefishes). But perspective Angles or shots of the Egg pouch are still possible.