Size12.6 inches (32 cm)
DietSmall crustaceans, worms and other invertebrates
RangeAustralia to Tasmania
- Coloration is commonly yellow and spotted on most of the body with a series of dark bluish lines along the trunk and a darker olive coloration toward the back. Leaf-like appendages are purple with a dark edge.
- Very distinctive, long and compressed body with narrow flaps projecting from the body and tail. The body of the female grows deeper than that of the male with age.
- Color and shape of appendages are based on the sea dragon’s food supply and environment, and also vary with other factors such as depth and geography.
- Individuals found in deep water habitats tend to be less leafy and brighter in color.
- Tube-like snout functions like a drinking straw to suck in food.
- Common length of 12.6 inches (32 cm).
Weedy sea dragons use their tube-like snouts as straws to suck up prey.
Diet / Feeding
- Diet consists of small crustaceans, including tiny mysid shrimp, as well as worms and other invertebrates.
Range / Habitat
- Occurs in a limited region from Southern and Western Australia to the southern tip of Tasmania.
- Usually found in kelp forests, along reefs or in shallow, weedy areas of estuaries at depths to 160 feet (49 m); tends to remain in shallower waters unless food is scarce.
Reproduction & Growth
- The male of the species is the sex that carries the developing eggs and “gives birth.”
- Females lay up to 250 to 300 eggs on the soft underside of the male’s tail during mating season, usually beginning in October or November.
- Eggs embed into the skin; hard, cup-like structures form around each egg to hold and protect it during brooding.
- Bright pink eggs hatch about two months later into miniature juveniles, which settle into the vegetation.
- Juveniles closely resemble adults, though smaller and less colorful.
- “Least Concern” on the IUCN Red List.
- Threatened in some areas of the native range by pollution and habitat loss, especially in waters near large metropolitan areas.
- Protected by Australian law and can only be imported by collectors with special permits.
- Protected species in New South Wales and Tasmania.
- Belongs to the same family as sea horses (Syngnathidae); unlike sea horses, swims horizontally with its abdomen facing downward.
- Camouflages perfectly among seaweed and in seagrass beds with its leaf-like fins and frilly appendages.
- Seahorses, Pipefish and Their Relatives. Kuiter, R. H., pgs. 75-79
- Fishes of the World – An Illustrated Dictionary. Wheeler, A., pg. 286