Slender Seamoth, Pegasus volitans Linnaeus 1758


Other Names: Longtail Seamoth, Long-tailed Dragonfish, Long-tailed Dragon-fish, Pelagic Dragon-fish, Sea Moth, Winged Dragonfish

A Slender Seamoth, Pegasus volitans, in Nelson Bay, New South Wales. Source: Dave Harasti / http://www.daveharasti.com/. License: All rights reserved

Summary:

Slender Seamoths are somewhat flattened, with a slender, tapered body and a long tapered snout. Although capable of rapid colour change to match the surroundings, the body is usually brownish with a darker reticulated pattern.

Video of Little Dragonfish (Eurypegasus draconis) and a Slender Seamoth.


Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. & Thompson, V.J. 2018, Pegasus volitans in Fishes of Australia, accessed 16 Nov 2018, http://fishesofaustralia.net.au/home/species/4043

Slender Seamoth, Pegasus volitans Linnaeus 1758

More Info


Distribution

Known in Australian waters from about Waroona, Western Australia, around the tropical north to about Shellharbour, New South Wales. Elsewhere, the species is widespread in the tropical Indo-west Pacific, from East Africa and the Arabian Gulf, to Australia and north to southern Japan. 

Individuals or pairs inhabit shallow bays, estuaries and coastal reefs, preferring muddy, rubble and sandy bottoms or seagrass beds in depths to 75 m, although usually above 30 m.

Features

Dorsal fin 5; Anal fin 5; Pectoral fin 10-12 (usually 11); Caudal fin 8; Carapace rings 3; Tail rings 12.

Body long, slender, tapering, carapace depressed, slender in adults; rostrum short in juveniles, long and tapered in adults, with lateral hook-like serrations; tail slender, flexible, posterior three rings fused with lateral retrorse spines.

Size

Attains a total length of about 18 cm.

Colour

Slender Seamoths vary in colour to match their surroundings, and range from being very pale on sandy bottoms to almost black.

Feeding

Although Slender Seamoths do not possess tubular mouths, they have a specialised protrusible mouth which they can form into a tube. They crawl or ‘walk’ over the bottom on their paired pelvic fins in search of small crustaceans, worms and molluscs which are sucked from burrows.

Biology

The sexes are separate and fertilisation is external. Males and females form monogamous pairs and are pelagic spawners, releasing eggs and sperm into the water column. 

Larvae hatch at <1.4 mm, and settle at >6.7 mm. Small larvae are enclosed by a dermal sac, have large fan-shaped, horizontally orientated pectoral fins; body dorsoventrally compressed; tail laterally compressed; dermal body plates present by 2 mm.

Fisheries

Seamoths are taken as bycatch in commercial trawl fisheries. They are traded in several southeast Asian countries in the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) industry, and are also sold as curios.

Conservation

IUCN Red list: Data Deficient

NSW Fisheries Management Act 1994: Protected species.

Remarks

Large adults are common in Moreton Bay tidal channels, on rubble in open seagrass patches.

Similar Species

The similar Pegasus tetrabelos differs from the similar Slender Seamoth in having  anteriorly and posteriorly directed spines on the last dorso-lateral and ventro-lateral plates (vs. absent in Pvolitans), terminal-lateral plates absent (vs. present in P. volitans); shorter tail ring XII spine (1.9–3.0 vs. 4.1–5.5% SL in P. volitans), spines on lateral tail ridges demarcate earlier (posterior tail ring IX vs. posterior tail ring X–XI or not demarcating in P. volitans); wider tail ring X (width 4.1–5.0 vs. 3.4–4.0% SL in P. volitans), 4 dark caudal saddles, no prominent saddle on tail ring XI (vs. 5 dark caudal saddles including prominent saddle on tail ring XI in P. volitans); pectoral-fin rays usually 10 (vs. usually 11 in P. volitans); 5th pectoral-fin ray stout (vs. not stouter than adjacent rays in P. volitans); single ventral preopercular notch (vs. double ventral preopercular notch in P. volitans); carapace with three small posteriorly directed tubercles along each dorsal ridge, one at the centre of each dorsal plate (vs. no posteriorly directed tubercles in P. volitans). Lateral keels are often comparatively more defined and posteriorly-directed in Ptetrabelosthan in P. volitans.

Etymology

The specific name volitans is from the Latin volitans, meaning to fly.

Species Citation

Pegasus volitans Linnaeus 1758, Systema Naturae, 10th ed.: 338. Type locality: India, Ambon, Indonesia.

Author

Bray, D.J. & Thompson, V.J. 2018

Resources

Australian Faunal Directory

Slender Seamoth, Pegasus volitans Linnaeus 1758

References


Allen, G.R. 1997. Marine Fishes of Tropical Australia and South-east Asia. Perth : Western Australian Museum 292 pp.

Allen, G.R. & Erdmann, M.V. 2012. Reef fishes of the East Indies. Perth : Tropical Reef Research 3 vols, 1260 pp.

Allen, G.R. & Swainston, R. 1988. The Marine Fishes of North-Western Australia. A field guide for anglers and divers. Perth, WA : Western Australian Museum vi 201 pp.

Grant, E.M. 2002. Guide to Fishes. Redcliffe : EM Grant Pty Ltd 880 pp.

Hutchins, J.B. & Swainston, R. 1986. Sea Fishes of Southern Australia. Complete field guide for anglers and divers. Perth : Swainston Publishing 180 pp. (as Parapegasus natans)

Hutchins, J.B. & Thompson, M. 1983. The Marine and Estuarine Fishes of South-western Australia. Perth : Western Australian Museum 103 pp. 345 figs. (as Parapegasus natans)

Johnson, J.W. 1999. Annotated checklist of the fishes of Moreton Bay, Queensland, Australia. Memoirs of the Queensland Museum 43(2): 709-762.

Kuiter, R.H. 1985. The remarkable seamoths. Scuba Diver 3: 16–18.

Kuiter, R.H. 1993. Coastal Fishes of South-eastern Australia. Crawford House Press, Bathurst. 437pp.

Kuiter, R.H. 2009. Seahorses and their relatives. Aquatic Photographics, Seaford, Australia, 333 pp.

Larson, H.K., Williams, R.S. & Hammer, M.P. 2013. An annotated checklist of the fishes of the Northern Territory, Australia. Zootaxa 3696(1): 1-293.

 Linnaeus, C. 1758. Systema Naturae per Regna tria Naturae, secundem Classes, Ordines, Genera, Species, cum Characteribus, Differentis, Synonymis, Locis. Tom.1 Editio decima, reformata. Holmiae : Laurentii Salvii 824 pp.

Lourie S.A., Vincent A.C.J. & Hall H.J. (1999) Seahorses: an identification guide to the world’s species and their conservation. Project Seahorse. London UK. 214 pp.

Orr, J.W. & Pietsch, T.W. 1994. Pipefishes and their allies. pp. 168-172 in Paxton, J.R. & Eschmeyer, W.N. Encyclopedia of Fishes. Sydney : University of New South Wales Press 240 pp.

Palsson, W.A. & Pietsch, T.W. 1989. Revision of the acanthopterygian fish family Pegasidae (Order Gasterosteiformes). Indo-Pacific Fishes 18: 1-38.

Osterhage D, Pogonoski JJ, Appleyard SA, White WT (2016) Integrated Taxonomy Reveals Hidden Diversity in Northern Australian Fishes: A New Species of Seamoth (Genus Pegasus). PLoS ONE11(3): e0149415. PDF Open access doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0149415

Palsson W.A. & Pietsch T.W. (1989) Revision of the acanthopterygian fish family Pegasidae (Order Gasterosteiformes). Indo-Pacific Fishes 18: 1-38.

Pietsch T.W. (1978) Evolutionary relationships of the seamoths (Teleostei : Pegasidae) with a classification of gasterosteiform families. Copeia 1978(3): 517-529 figs 1-15.

Pietsch, T.W. & Palsson, W.A. 1999. Family Pegasidae. 2262 in Carpenter, K.E. & Niem, T.H. (eds). The Living Marine Resources of the Western Central Pacific. FAO Species Identification Guide for Fisheries Purposes. Rome : FAO Vol. 4 pp. 2069-2790.

Pogonoski, J.J. Pollard, D.A. & Paxton, J.R. 2002. Conservation Overview and Action Plan for Australian Threatened and Potentially Threatened Marine and Estuarine Fishes, Canberra Environment Australia 375 pp. 

Pollom, R. 2016. Pegasus volitans. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T16476A46624265. http://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-3.RLTS.T16476A46624265.en. Downloaded on 20 March 2017.

Reader, S.E. & Neira, F.J. 1998. Pegasidae: Seamoths. pp. 117-121 in Neira, F.J., Miskiewicz, A.G. & Trnski, T. Larvae of temperate Australian fishes: laboratory guide for larval fish identification. Nedlands, Western Australia : University of Western Australia press 474 pp.

Vincent, A.C.J. 1997. Trade in pegasid fishes (sea moths), primarily for traditional Chinese medicine. Oryx 31: 199–208.

Quick Facts


CAAB Code:37309002

Conservation:IUCN Data Deficient

Depth:1-75 m

Habitat:Soft bottom, reef associated

Max Size:18 cm TL

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Species Maps

CAAB distribution map