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Marine Animal Encyclopedia

Leafy Seadragon Phycodorus eques

It is hard to imagine anything less fishlike than the leafy seadragon. The bizarre tassels and frills that adorn its head and body form a spectacular camouflage that fools both predators and prey. Even its body and tail are bent and twisted to resemble seaweed stems. Closely related to seahorses, the leafy seadragon has a similar, but much longer, tubular snout. This is an effective feeding tool—the fish aims its snout at a small shrimp and then sucks hard, rather like a person would on a drinking straw. The leafy seadragon lives on rocky, seaweed-covered reefs and in seagrass beds. Unlike seahorses, it cannot coil its tail around an object. It moves very slowly and sways with the waves, mimicking the seaweed. Like seahorses and pipefish, the female deposits her eggs in a brood pouch under the male’s tail and he carries them until they hatch.

Leafy Seadragonzoom image
  • Order Syngnathiformes
  • Length 14 in (35 cm)
  • Weight Not recorded
  • Depth 13–100 ft (4–30 m)
  • Distribution Eastern Indian Ocean, along the southern coast of Australia
Leafy Seadragon habitat mapzoom image