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The forward portion of the head has the form of a long tubular snout in the pipefishes, with the small mouth situated at its tip; the skin is armed with rings of bony plates; there is only one dorsal fin (soft-rayed), the body is very slender, and there are no ventrals. The snout recalls that of the trumpetfishes (p. 316), but pipefishes differ from them and from most other bony fishes in the structure of their gills, which form tufts of small rounded lobes, instead of the familiar filaments. Their general affinity in this respect is with the group of which the sticklebacks are the most familiar exponents. There are many species of pipefishes in warm seas, but only one inhabits the Gulf of Maine regularly, while a second has been recorded there—a stray from the south.

1. Dorsal fin with 35 to 41 rays; 18 to 20 bony plates in front of the vent and 36 to 42 behind it Common pipefish, p. 312
Dorsal fin with 29 to 31 rays; 16 or 17 bony plates in front of the vent and 31 to 35 behind it Pelagic pipefish, p. 314