D. excisus as a species was named by Kaup in 1856. D. melanopleaura, named by Bleeker, is a synonym. The species was eventually split into subspecies, based on distribution. D. excisus abbreviatus was named by Dawson in 1981, D. excisus excisus, by Kaup in 1856, and D. excisus paulus, by Fritzche in 1980. D. excisus abbreviatus pertains only to the Red Sea subspecies. D. e. paulus is restricted to the Revillagigedo Islands in Mexico.
The species is distinguished by its bluish mid-lateral stripe contrasting an orange or reddish body. Furthermore, it has a fan-like tail. A caudal fin is present, which is rounded with a white outline, the inside mostly black. The fish's snout is elongated.
Males and females of the species grow to an average of 7 cm. A male will have a series of bumps and hooks on the upper surface of its snout, while a female will have a smooth snout. Males mature around lengths of 31 mm.
Distribution and habitat
The species has a wide distribution. It can be found from the Persian Gulf to the coasts of Central America and South America. It has been found in the Indo-Pacific and Western Pacific, inhabiting reef crevices.
The fish has been found in tidepools.
The blue-and-orange cleaner pipefish's diet includes zooplankton, benthic invertebrates, and parasites from other fishes. Its tube-like snout is used to eat such creatures by taking water in rapidly.
The species is considered peaceful, especially in pairs. Hobbyists have reported success in feeding the species frozen brine shrimp and mysis shrimp. In an aquarium, they may be found in shady areas during daytime. The species has been reported to breed in a tank.
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