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My LFS very rarely gets in African pipefish. These are true freshwater pipefish, and they can usually get them eating frozen food.
I attempted to keep one at one point, and it gladly ate Cyclop-eeze. However, we went on vacation about a week after I got it, and though it had seemed very healthy before (no sunken stomach), it was missing when we got back. The fishsitter hadn't seen it at all, despite being shown what it looked like and where it liked to sit. I still don't know what happened, but I'd like to try again, this time in a micro-fish tank.
One problem with these guys is they have very, very tiny mouths. Also, being pipefish, they need to eat often.
My micro-fish tank is a 29g biocube, and it's going to be stocked with microrasboras, pygmy cories, assorted low-quality neo shrimp, and forktail blue-eye rainbowfish. Should the forktails prove to be a problem for the microrasboras (which I really hope won't happen), they'll go to my 65g.
I considered buying some Endler's livebearers and letting them breed in order to feed the pipe with fry, then I realized that it would be no fun watching the pipe hunt if it was eating adorable big-eye fry.
Here's my idea: I'll get a bunch of really good hiding places set up, like balls of java moss, then I'll dump more cull shrimp in and let them breed for a month or two. After that, I'll add the pipefish. I'll make sure to feed the pipe, it won't completely be feeding itself, but I'm hoping that shrimp babies will keep one happy.
Given that the tank will also have a lot of microrasboras, will this work? I plan to work on stocking pygmy cories for a while, microrasboras probably won't be introduced for a few months.
 

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What a cool fish! I support your decision to try one of these!

Im going to speak here with experience in keeping SW pipes - and hope that all the info translates.

In my mind, you want as few fish in this tank as possible. What these guys are really eating in the wild isnt small fish or shrimp - but even smaller microfauna.

I would seed the tank with infusoria, blackworms etc - and do so frequently.

I would also keep cultures on hand of other live feeders. Especially greenwater and amphipods.

Throwing tiny cull shrimp in there as much as possible is a good idea, as is adding TINY guppy fry.

Adult guppies (and even the tiny ones) will relish the foods that your pipefish needs to thrive. Pipefish are not easy fish to care for - and should be given sources of living food that they can graze on 24/7.

I think it can be done, but I would start some cultures now, and keep as many other fish or feeding competitors out of the tank as possible - pipes are 99.99% of the time a species tank sort of fish.

That being said - the more live cultures you have going, the better the chance of you being able to keep other fish, and the other fish will love it as well. Small enough fish might even spawn under these conditions.

Good luck!
 

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Personally, I'd stick with a species tank for pipefish. As you know, they're very specialized fish, very slow, deliberate feeders. Pretty much opposite end of the spectrum from hyper-active blue-eyes.

Your idea of feeding shrimp culls and/or endler fry is a good one. I just wouldn't plan on breeding them in the same tank as the pipefish lives in.
 
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