PORT PHILLIP BAY


Common Seadragon 

Phyllopteryx taeniolatus (Lacepède, 1804)

View scientific description and taxonomy

Scientific Details

Meristics.
Dorsal fin spines/rays: 27-34
Anal fin spines/rays: 4-5
Pectoral fin rays: 20-23
Body rings: 17-18 + 31-37
Subdorsal rings: 1.75-0.25 + 5.00-7.00 = 6.00-8.00

Interpreting fin count meristics.
Spines are in Roman numerals and soft rays are in Arabic numerals. Spines and rays that are continuous in one fin are separated by a comma. Fin sections are separated by semicolons.

Detailed descriptions of fin count and other meristics are in:
Gomon. M.F., Bray, D.J. & Kuiter, R.H. (eds) (2008) Fishes of Australia's Southern Coast. Sydney : Reed New Holland 928 pp.

Order level detail.
Mostly long, slender fishes with a small mouth at the end of a long tubular snout, although some species are deep-bodied. All are partially or completely encased in bony rings or dermal plates. Most are cryptically-coloured and often have dermal appendages providing further camouflage.

Family level detail.
A large and diverse group of pipefishes, seahorses, seadragons and pipehorses. All have semi-flexible bodies encased in bony rings and a tiny mouth at the end of a tubular snout. They lack fin spines and pelvic fins, and other the fins may be reduced or absent. Syngnathids have a unique reproductive mode. The sexes are separate and females deposit their eggs into special abdominal brood pouches or onto modified exposed regions under the trunk or tail of their male partner. The males incubate and nourish the developing embryos until they hatch. These extraordinary cryptic fishes are extremely well-camouflaged and often ornamentation such as filaments and other appendages on their bodies to closely resemble their surroundings.

Taxonomy

Phylum:
Chordata
Subphylum:
Craniata
Superclass:
Gnathostomata
Class:
Actinopterygii
Order:
Syngnathiformes
Suborder:
Syngnathoidei
Family:
Syngnathidae
Genus:
Phyllopteryx
Species:
taeniolatus

Other Names

  • Weedy Seadragon

General Description

Spectacular and remarkably camouflaged seahorse relatives with bodies encased in bony rings and decorated with elaborate weed-like appendages. Body relatively deep, compressed; snout long, tubular; tail section long. Colour pattern striking and variable. Overall reddish-orange to brownish or greenish on back, paler and often yellowish below, with bluish to purplish bars on neck and chest and a range of iridescent blue, purple, yellow and black spots, bars and markings. Weedy appendages, reddish, bluish, purplish. To 46 cm.

Biology

These seadragons are often seen around piers, pylons and jetties in association with seagrasses and macroalgae, and are occasionally washed ashore after storms. They are carnivores, feeding on tiny crustaceans, such as mysid shrimps. Male seadragons brood and nourish the developing eggs on an exposed area on the underside of the tail. This protected species is the Marine State Faunal Emblem of Victoria. Although the related Leafy Seadragon, Phycodurus eques, has been reported to occur in Victoria, such records have not been verified.

Habitat

Sheltered reef, macroalgal and seagrass habitats in shallow bays, estuaries and deeper offshore reefs, in depths of 1-50 m.

Reefs

Seagrass meadows

Distribution guide

Southern Australia.

Species Group

Fishes Seahorses, pipefish and allies

Depth

Shallow (1-30 m)
Deep ( > 30 m)

Water Column

On or near sea floor

Max Size

46 cm

Diet

Omnivore

Commercial Species

No

Global Dispersal

Native to Australia

Identify

Conservation Status

  • DSE Advisory List : Not listed
  • EPBC Act 1999 : Not listed
  • IUCN Red List : Near Threatened
  • Fisheries Act 1995 : Protected Aquatic Biota

Author

article author Bray, D.J.

Di Bray is a Senior Collection Manager of ichthyology at Museum Victoria.

Author

article author Gomon, M.F.

Dr. Martin Gomon is a Senior Curator of ichthyology at Museum Victoria.

citation

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. & Gomon, M.F., 2011, Common Seadragon, Phyllopteryx taeniolatus, in Taxonomic Toolkit for marine life of Port Phillip Bay, Museum Victoria, accessed 18 Dec 2017, http://portphillipmarinelife.net.au:8098/species/8007

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