Syngnathidae - pipefishes and seahorses

Pipefishes and seahorses have very elongate bodies with long tubular snouts and tiny mouths. Their bodies are encased in bony armor plates arranged in rings around the body. Pipefishes' bodies are extremely long, straight, and thin, sort of snake-like. Seahorses have a head that is positioned at some angle to the body; its tail is curled (used to cling to objects), and it usually has a "pooch" in the middle. One species found in the Gulf, the pipehorse, is a transition between the pipefishes and seahorses. Its body is long and straight like the pipefishes but the tail is coiled like the seahorse. Males of this family have specially developed pouches to carry and brood the eggs, deposited by the females, until the eggs hatch. Most of these fishes are marine, but some are found in freshwater. They are popular in the aquarium trade and are sometimes dried or coated and sold as curios. Dried seahorses may also be used by some cultures for medicinal purposes.