Learn some of the most useful leafy sea dragon facts such as sea dragons diet, habitat, and reproduction. The leafy sea dragon (Phycodurus eques) is a marine fish that belongs to the family of Syngnathidae. It is the lone member of genus Phycodurus. Seahorses also come under the same family. These types of fish are more readily found in the western and southern coasts of Australia. As the name indicates, it has a leaf-like appearance that is perfectly built to offer a natural camouflage to these species. The leafy sea dragon drives itself through a pectoral fin on the ridge of its neck and a dorsal fin that is located at its rear end. These tiny fins are transparent so much so that it becomes impossible to observe. These species are commonly called leafies across South Australia. The leafy sea dragons are often proved to be too expensive to be kept in captivity. So many unsuccessful attempts have been made to keep them in aquaria. Nevertheless, they are more likely to survive in public aquaria under knowledgeable supervision and greater funds. These species are found in Sydney Aquarium, the Aquarium of Western Australia, and Melbourne Aquarium.
Interesting Leafy Sea Dragon Facts
- The leafy sea dragon is a marine symbol all throughout the state of South Australia.
- These fishes look very much similar to that of mythical dragon.
- The size of the leafy sea dragon is slightly greater in comparison to the seahorses.
- The length of these species measure around 20 – 24 cm (8 – 10 inches).
- Leafies are carnivorous species.
- The tail becomes change to bright yellow at the time of mating.
- They primarily feed on tiny crustaceans and plankton.
- Leafies are usually brown to yellow in body color reflecting olive-tinted appendages.
- Thanks to the skin lobes that grows on the leafy sea dragon as it provides a complete camouflage and giving seaweed-like appearance.
- The leafy sea dragon is capable to alter its color but it primarily relies on the sea dragon’s diet, location, and age.
- These types of fishes are known to feed on mysid shrimp, plankton, small crustaceans, larval fish, and amphibians.
- Despite its resemblance with the seahorse, the leafy sea dragon is considerably from the seahorse in its locomotion and physical appearance.
- Like seahorses, leafy sea dragon is unable to grasp things with its tail.
- They employ their fins alongside their heads to enable them to steer and turn.
- They are observed to stay at one site for a long period of time up to 68 hours. They are known to travel 150 meters (490 feet) per hour.
- Unfortunately, leafy sea dragons are prone to several threats whether natural or man-made. They are considered to be slow swimmers and are therefore more readily caught by their predators. One of the primary natural causes is the excessive industrial pollution. However, they are given official protection by the Federal Government of Australia.
The male leafy sea dragon is normally responsible for guarding over the eggs. These eggs are bright pink in color. The female, after laying 250 eggs, deposits them on the mail’s tail through the long tube. The hatching period lasts for about 9 weeks which entirely depends on the water conditions. Of all these eggs, only 5% of them survive. It takes 28 months for leafy sea dragon to mature.
Where Do Leafy Sea Dragons Live
The leafy sea dragon widely exists across the southern Australian waters, ranging from westward Jurien Bay to the eastern end of Kangaroo Island. They are usually found at a distance of about 220 km (140 miles) north of Perth. According to a study, sea dragons are known to travel several hundred kilometers from their habitat sites. They normally swim at a depth of 50 meters (164 feet), surrounding the clumps of sea grass.