Weedy sea dragon

species of fish

The weedy sea dragon or common sea dragon, Phyllopteryx taeniolatus, is a marine fish related to the seahorse. It is the only member of the genus Phyllopteryx. It is found in water 3 to 50 m deep around the south coast of Australia, from Port Stephens, New South Wales to Geraldton, Western Australia. It also found in the waters around Tasmania. Weedy sea dragons are named for the weed-like growth on their bodies. This camouflage hides them as they move among the seaweed beds where they live. The weedy sea dragon is the aquatic emblem for the state of Victoria.[1]

Weedy sea dragon
Phyllopteryx taeniolatus Bauer.jpg
Picture by Ferdinand Bauer
Scientific classification

Swainson, 1839
Binomial name
Phyllopteryx taeniolatus
Phyllopteryx tæniolatus range map.PNG
Where weedy sea dragons are found.


Weedy sea dragon in Cabbage Tree Bay, Sydney, Australia

Weedy sea dragons can reach 45 cm in length. They feed on tiny crustaceans and other zooplankton, which they suck into the end of their long tube-like nose. They don't have a tail that can wrap around and hold on to things the way a seahorse can. They swim in shallow reefs and weed beds, and look like weeds drifting over bare sand.[2]


Sea dragons, seahorses and pipe fish are the only species where the male carries the eggs. The male carries the fertilized eggs, joined under his tail. They stay there for about eight weeks until they hatch. The young can look after themselves as soon as they are born.[2] Breeding sea dragons in captivity is rare because scientists don't know what makes them breed in the wild. Keeping sea dragons in captivity is difficult.

The Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, California, Melbourne Aquarium in Australia, and the Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga, Tennessee,[3] are the only places in the world to have bred weedy sea dragons, though others have been able to get them to lay eggs.[4]

Leafy sea dragonsEdit

A relative of the weedy sea dragon is the leafy sea dragon Phycodurus eques. In the November 2006, the National Geographic magazine, reported that marine biologist Greg Rouse is looking at the DNA of the two sea dragon species.


  1. DSE Victoria
  2. 2.0 2.1 Morrison, Sue; Storrie, Ann (1999). Wonders of Western Waters: The Marine Life of South-Western Australia. CALM. p. 68. ISBN 0-7309-6894-4.
  3. "Tennessee Aquarium". Archived from the original on 2016-03-03. Retrieved 2009-05-16.
  4. "Weedy Seadragons spawn for Hong Kong aquarist". AquaDaily. 2008-07-18. Archived from the original on 2009-02-18. Retrieved 2009-02-01.

Other websitesEdit