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
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

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.


We thank the Aquarium of the Pacific for support and access to their weedy seadragon collection. Special thanks go to C. Forsgren, K. Koons, P. Hampton, P. Branshaw and T. Demas, for their assistance with data collection, and K. Goldman, B. Eldon, K. Young, W. Smith and G. Cailliet for their assistance with the preparation of this manuscript. We also thank G. Goodmanlowe for the early life history drawings. The Aquarium of the Pacific, Sigma Xi Grants-in-Aid of Research, and Boeing-CNSM Graduate Scholarship provided funding for this project.


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