Weedy Seadragon – Phyllopteryx Taeniolatus

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Ichthyology

Identification

The Weedy Seadragon has a long pipe-like snout with a small terminal mouth. Large females become deep bodied. The name ‘Weedy Seadragon’ refers to the leaf-like appendages on the body. The species is the only member of the genus occurring in New South Wales, and cannot be confused with any other local member of the family Syngnathidae. It appears to be a frequently encountered member of the coastal fish fauna, especially by divers.

Size range

Fish of 30 cm in length are common, but it can grow to 45 cm.

Distribution

The species is endemic to Australian temperate marine waters. It occurs from the central New South Wales coast around the south coast of Australia to south-western Western Australia.

The map below shows the Australian distribution of the species based on public sightings and specimens in Australian Museums. Click on the map for detailed information.  Source: Atlas of Living Australia.

Phyllopteryx taeniolatus

Distribution by collection data

Ozcam map of CommonSeadragon specimens in Australian Museums.

What does this mean?

Habitat

This superbly camouflaged fish usually occurs in kelp-covered rocky reefs at depths from about 3 m to 50 m. It is usually found in areas ranging from shallow estuaries to deep offshore reefs (Pogonoski et.al., 2002). Depths range from 1 m – 50 m (Pogonoski et.al., 2002).

Feeding and Diet

The leaf-shaped appendages and cryptic colouration of this species provide effective camouflage, allowing them to feed on small crustaceans such as mysids.

Other behaviours and adaptations

These fish are poor swimmers, which explains the frequent beach strandings recorded in the Australian Museum database.

Mating and reproduction

The breeding season is early summer, with usually one brood per season. Male seadragons carry the eggs fixed to the underside of the tail until they eventually hatch. Up to 250 young hatch from a single brood (Pogonoski et al., 2002). Some of the young mature in one year, but usuaually will not breed until their second year when fully mature (Pogonoski et al., 2002).

– See more at: http://australianmuseum.net.au/weedy-seadragon-phyllopteryx-taeniolatus#sthash.iDIadYkQ.dpuf

Ref: Australian Museum

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