Marine and Freshwater Research Marine and Freshwater Research Society
Advances in the aquatic sciences

The life history of weedy seadragons, Phyllopteryx taeniolatus (Teleostei : Syngnathidae)

Kristy L. Forsgren A and Christopher G. Lowe B

A University of Washington, School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences, 1122 NE Boat Street, Seattle, WA 98195, USA.

B California State University, Long Beach, Department of Biological Sciences, 1250 Bellflower Blvd, Long Beach, CA 90840, USA.

C Corresponding author. Email:

Marine and Freshwater Research 57(3) 313-322
Submitted: 24 May 2005  Accepted: 8 February 2006   Published: 27 April 2006


The aim of this study was to provide a detailed description of the life history of weedy seadragons, Phyllopteryx taeniolatus. Weedy seadragon development was described based on morphological characters and categorised into four periods: incubation, larval, juvenile and sub-adult. Hatching occurred 35–42 days post-fertilisation, most hatchlings exhibited juvenile characteristics upon hatching or shortly thereafter. The von Bertalanffy growth parameters generated from weedy seadragon length-at-age data were L = 285 ± 3 mm standard length (SL; mean ± s.e.) and k = 2.20 ± 0.05 year-1. Females possessed a higher gonosomatic index (GSI; 1.25 ± 1.18%; mean ± s.d.) than males (0.34 ± 0.20%), which increased substantially for females over 230 mm in length. Mature female weedy seadragons (290 ± 32 mm SL) ovulated 110 ± 27 eggs per female per spawning. Additionally, three females produced more than one clutch per season. Male weedy seadragons (319 ± 9 mm SL) successfully incubated 91 ± 40 eggs per spawning event. In addition to improving our understanding of the life history of weedy seadragons, this information can be used to estimate population demography and develop management strategies.

Extra keywords: Australia, development, growth, reproduction, syngnathid.


Australian Government Geoscience Australia (2000). Compute sunrise, sunset and twilight times. Available online at: [verified April 2006].

Baum J. Meeuwing J. Vincent A. 2003 Bycatch of lined seahorses (Hippocampus erectus) in a Gulf of Mexico shrimp trawl fishery. Fishery Bulletin 101 721 731

Berglund A. Rosenqvist G. Svensson I. 1986 Mate choice, fecundity and sexual dimorphism in two pipefish species (Synganthidae). Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 19 301 307

Cailliet G. , Love M. , and Ebeling A. (1986). ‘Fishes: A Field and Laboratory Manual on their Structure, Identification, and Natural History.’ (Waveland Press: Prospect Heights, IL.)

Carcupino M. Baldacci A. Mazzini M. Franzoi P. 1997 Morphological organization of the male brood pouch epithelium of Syngnathus abaster Risso (Teleostea, Syngnathidae) before, during, and after egg incubation. Tissue & Cell 29 21 30 doi:10.1016/S0040-8166(97)80068-7

Connolly R. Melville A. Keesing J. 2002 Abundance, movement and individual identification of leafy seadragons, Phycodurus eques (Pisces: Syngnathidae). Marine and Freshwater Research 53 777 780 doi:10.1071/MF01168

Dawson C. (1985). ‘Indo-Pacific Pipefishes (Red Sea to the Americas).’ (The Gulf Coast Research Laboratory: Ocean Springs, MI.)

Fabens A. 1965 Properties and fitting the von Bertalanffy growth curve. Growth 29 265 289

Foster S. Vincent A. 2004 Life history and ecology of seahorses: implications for conservation and management. Journal of Fish Biology 65 1 61

Fuiman L. , and Werner R. (2002). Special consideration of fish eggs and larvae. In ‘FisheryScience: The Unique Contributions of Early Life Stages’. (Eds L. Fuiman and R. Werner.) pp. 1–33. (Blackwell Science Ltd.: Oxford, UK.)

Herald E. 1959 From pipefish to seahorse – a study of phylogenetic relationships. Proceedings of the California Academy of Sciences 13 465 473

Hutchins B. , and Swainston R. (1986). ‘Sea Fishes of Southern Australia.’ (Swainston: Perth.)

IUCN (2004). The 2002 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Available online at: [verified February 2006].

Kanou K. Kohno H. 2001 Early life history of a seahorse, Hippocampus mohnikei, in Tokyo Bay, Japan. Ichthyological Research 48 361 368 doi:10.1007/S10228-001-8159-9

Kornienko E. 2001 Reproduction and development in some genera of pipefish and seahorses of the family Syngnathidae. Russian Journal of Marine Biology 27 S15 S26 doi:10.1023/A:1013894804529

Kuiter R. (2003). ‘Seahorses, Pipefishes and their Relatives.’ Revised edn. (TMC Publishing: Chorleywood, UK.)

Moreau M. Vincent A. 2004 Social structure and space use in a wild population of the Australian short-headed seahorse Hippocampus breviceps Peters, 1869. Marine and Freshwater Research 55 231 239 doi:10.1071/MF03159

Paxton J. 2000 Fish otoliths: do sizes correlate with taxonomic group, habitat and/or luminescence? Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological Sciences 355 1299 1303 doi:10.1098/RSTB.2000.0688

Pogonoski J. , Pollard D. , and Paxton J. (2002). ‘Conservation Overview and Action Plan for Australian Threatened and Potentially Threatened Marine and Estuarine Fishes.’ (Environment Australia: Canberra.)

Presnell J. , and Schreibman M. (1997). ‘Humason’s Animal Tissue Techniques.’ 5th edn. (The John Hopkins University Press: Baltimore, MD.)

Rasband W. (2000). Scion Image for Windows. Version 4.0.2. National Institutes for Health, Bethesda, MD.

Salin K. Yohannan T. Mohanakumaran Nair C. 2005 Fisheries and trade of seahorses, Hippocampus spp., in southern India. Fisheries Management and Ecology 12 269 273 doi:10.1111/J.1365-2400.2005.00450.X

Sanchez-Camara J. Booth D. 2004 Movement, home range and site fidelity of the weedy seadragon Phyllopteryx taeniolatus (Teleostei: Syngnathdae). Environmental Biology of Fishes 70 31 41 doi:10.1023/B:EBFI.0000022850.33643.E3

Sanchez-Camara J. Booth D. Turon X. 2005 Reproductive cycle and growth of Phyllopteryx taeniolatus. Journal of Fish Biology 67 133 148 doi:10.1111/J.0022-1112.2005.00720.X

Vincent A. (1996). Phyllopteryx taeniolatus. In ‘IUCN 2004. 2004 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species’. Available online at: [verified February 2006].

von Bertalanffy L. 1938 A quantitative theory of organic growth (inquiries on growth laws II). Human Biology 10 181 213

Export Citation Cited By (5)