Sea Dragons: Characteristics, habitats, types and more.

Learn all about the wonderful sea dragons which are striking and even weird  marine species related to seahorses and needlefish.

Sea dragons are marine creatures with amazing camouflaging skills, since their leaf-shaped appendages are perfectly outfitted to blend with their habitat’s seaweed formations.


Kingdom: Animal Phylum: Chordate Class: Actinopterygii (bony-fish) Order: Syngnathiformes (spined-Fish)  Family: Syngnathidae.

Leafy Sea Dragon or Glauert’s Sea dragon  (Phycodurus eques)

Main  Characteristics

This species has a total length of around 35 cm. Their body is quite thin, cylindrical and S-shaped, with several large-leaf-type skin folds and a caudal fin. In terms of color, it’s worth mentioning that their body is slightly pigmented, with narrow dark bands that surround the tail and the thorax’s dorsal third.

Leafy sea dragons are probably one of the most spectacular examples of camouflage within the animal kingdom, which makes them very difficult to identify for both their prey and their predators.


Glauert’s seadragons are ovoviviparous although unlike most fish species the males incubate the eggs. The female develops between 200 and 300 eggs, while the male concurrently forms many capillaries on its tail, which then proceeds to swell, wrinkle, and form about 120 eggcups.The eggs are then transferred from the female onto the male’s tail and fertilized.

The incubation period takes around four weeks and hatching occurs over several days to maximize survival rates. Soon after birth, the 20mm long newborns are enough skilled to swim and hunt successfully.  Then when sea dragons are between one and two years old they reach sexual maturity, although their reproductive behavior isn´t totally known yet.

Leafy sea dragons’ Diet and Eating Habits

There are many types of foods that they eat to survive, always depending on the environment where they are found. This includes shrimp, crustaceans and plankton. Their snout is very long and works like a tube through which they can suck food. However, they aren´t able to chew their prey since they lack teeth and what they consume must be small enough to be ingested completely.  Feeding occurs at a very slow pace and very oftensince they lack a digestive system that processes food.

here they are

Other Sea Dragon Species

Common seadragon or weedy seadragon (Phyllopteryx taeniolatus)

This species has a long pipe-like snout with a small terminal mouth. Moreover, they have a long dorsal fin along the back and small pectoral fins on either side of the neck,which provide balance. Their size is around 45 cm in length.

This species has sexual dimorphism since males have narrower bodies and are darker than females. In terms of body color it´s worth mentioning that adult specimens are usually reddish in color, with yellow and purple spots. The weedy sea dragon  is the only member of the genus and mustn’t be confused with any other member of the  syngnathidae family.

sea Dragons: Commonseadragon or weedy seadragon


In Nature they live alone or in pairs and their diet is based on plankton, fish larvae and small shrimp-like crustaceans called mysids. As for their reproduction, it’s worth mentioning that they are also oviparous.

Mating usually occurs during spring, with the female transmitting between 250 and 300 eggs to the male. During this process the lower portion of the male’s tail is inflated and wrinkled developing small cavities where the eggs are installed. The offspring are born about four weeks later.

Phyllopteryx Dewysea: Ruby Sea Dragon

This species was first described in 2015, which makes it the third known species of the Sea Dragon Fish, and the first to be discovered in 150 years. In April 2016 an underwater camera was used to shoot this species live for the first time, and the video was published in January 2017.

It confirmed that the ruby sea dragons have stunted lobes which slightly differentiate them from the other sea dragons. Their length is less than three centimeters and their body´s color is ruby-red with vertical lines and light marks on their snout. It´s is believed that their red color is quite related to the deep waters where they live, where the red hues are absorbed more efficiently and can help to camouflage.

Let´s watch them

Sea Dragons Evolution

There is little information about the sea dragons’ evolution in general. It´s believed that they evolved to become a different subspecies within the hippocampus family, adopting a smaller size than they had one day.

Sea Dragons in Aquariums

These creatures aren´t suitable for aquariums since they have complex needs and are very expensive. Leafy Sea Dragonss cost around $4000, and there are few specimens available due to the Auxtralian exporting laws. They also need highly specialized aquariums that keep the water clean and fresh, since they are a temperate species from the coldest waters around southern Australia.

As for the Weedy’s Seadragones, they are less expensive, but they also need very large and expensive aquariums configurations. It´s good to know that an  aquarium of at least 500 gallons must be employed to house this species. The cost of such an aquarium can easily exceed $10,000.

In addition, one would really need to have a wide experience not only with fish, but with syngnathids (the family of sea horses of fish), and would have to have access to a veterinarian who has experience with Syngnathids.

The Public aquariums is the best option to enjoy of them in captivity

Other Facts about the Sea Dragons

The leafy Sea Dragon is the South Australia state’s official marine emblem. It also appears in the logos of the following South Australian associations: the University of Adelaide Scuba Club Inc. and the Marine Life Society of South Australia Inc. The leafy Sea Dragon Biennial festival is held each year in the District Council of Yankalilla in southern Australia to encourage environmental protection and promote the arts and culture of the Fleurieu Peninsula. The inaugural festival in 2005 attracted more than 7,000 participants, including 4,000 visitors.

In 2006, an animated short film, The Amazing Adventures of Gavin, (a leafy sea Dragon), was made to raise funds for various organizations in southern Australia involved in the conservation of the marine environment. These included the Coastal Protection Board, the Department of Environment and Heritage, and the Marine Discovery Center. The film was made with the collaboration of the People’s Republic of Animation, Waterline Productions and SA film Corporation.  The film is an introductory guide to marine conservation and bio-marine regions of South Australia suitable for children aged 8 to 12.

Another film starring by fish is looking for Nemo, in which appear a surgeon fish and a clown fish. In its November 2006 issue of National Geographic Magazine, marine biologist Greg Rouse is reported to investigate the DNA variation of marine dragon fish species.

Here it  is… Get your pop corns and enjoy this short film…


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