As a photographer I thoroughly enjoy shooting pipefish as they fulfill of my “i need some macro images” needs. For a start, they are quite common, so there’s a good chance I’ll find one at some point on a trip, which makes all the difference of course and secondly, they’re quite slow moving, so you have the chance to compose yourself and the shot with relative ease.
My first fish (main image) was taken in the Maldives, it shows a Corythoicthys insularis, the Cheeked Pipefish. My species guide to the region suggests the pale and thin vertical bands are an identifying feature. It is similar to C. flavofasciatus the appropriately named yellow-banded pipefish, though both species have yellow banding.
My second fish is most likely C. flavofasciatus. I should of course mention Dunckerocampus dactyliophorus, which is also called the Yellow-banded pipefish and reminds us why binomials can help us avoid misunderstanding.
I found this fish on a shallow Red Sea reef and had a thoroughly grand five minutes following across a small coral bommie as it hunted carefully for tiny prey, presumably copepods and the like.
The key with shooting these fish is to ensure the eye is in focus. The very shallow depth of field provided by macro lenses can be artistically useful, but with a long fish, the closer you are, the lesser the amount of it you will get in sharp focus, so the rule is, capture they eye(s) and see what else you can do. If the fish is at right angles to your camera, then you can go for a more useful ID type image, if it is facing you then getting an ID shot is going to be very hard.
As ever, if I have got the ID on these fish wrong, I welcome a polite comment letting me know.