Fun Leafy Seadragon Facts For Kids

Akinwalere Olaleye
Oct 20, 2022 By Akinwalere Olaleye
Originally Published on Aug 06, 2021
Edited by Luca Demetriou
One of the fascinating leafy seadragon facts is that depending on the location, age, diet and the stress levels of the seadragon, it is capable of changing colors.

The leafy seadragon is a kind of a bony, marine fish from the family Syngnathidae. The family includes pipefishes and other ray-finned fishes.

The leafy seadragon is one of the most ornately disguised marine creatures. Decked with gauze-like intricacies or gossamer, it is surrounded with leaf like appendages that are attached to its body. Leafy seadragons blend perfectly with the seaweed, coral reefs and kelp growth, and formations over rocks.

Leafy seadragons are poor swimmers. They rely on their ability to hide from their predators under the ocean. They are collected for economic and commercial purposes. Due to this, the species is near threatened. Leafy seadragon (Phycodurus eques) species looks splendid in their habitat.

For more relatable content, check out these lined seahorse facts and kelp rockfish facts for kids.

Leafy Seadragon Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a leafy seadragon?

A leafy seadragon is a type of charismatic marine creature belonging to the genus of Phycodurus. It is the only member of the genus. Its scientific name is Phycodurus eques.

The name has derived due to its appearance. It has leaf-like protuberances all around its body. The protrusions help it camouflage from its predators under the ocean. They do not help him in any kind of propulsion.

Leafy seadragons are also named after the dragons of Chinese legends. It does not resemble a dragon completely. Its tail is different and it has leafy appendages attached to its body.

What class of animal does a leafy seadragon belong to?

The leafy seadragon is a kind of bony, marine fish belonging to the class of Actinopterygii whose scientific name is Phycodurus eques. The class contains ray-finned fishes. Like other ray-finned fishes, leafy seadragons, too, have fins made up of skin and supported by bony spines. The leaf-like adjuncts do not help them thrust forward or swim.  

How many leafy seadragons are there in the world?

Leafy seadragons or Phycodurus eques are Least Concern according to the IUCN. Although the current population and the past trends are unknown currently.

Where does a leafy seadragon live?

Leafy seadragons are marine fishes that are found below the low tide in the depths of 3.3-54.7 yd (3-50 m). They reside in and around the marine flora and vegetation under the sea.

This species of fish is found only in the temperate waters of the southern and western coastline of Australia. They are found in the stretch of Kangaroo Island, south Australia to Rottnest Island in western Australia.

What is a leafy seadragon's habitat?

A leafy seadragon’s habitat is on the seagrass meadows, algae, kelp growth on rocks, seaweed beds, and rocky reefs under the sea.

Who do leafy seadragons live with?

In the late winters and onset of spring, leafy seadragons migrate to shallow waters from deep bays in congregations to mate. During winters, they move alone and migrate deep into the ocean.

How long does a leafy seadragon live?

Leafy seadragons attain sexual maturity at two years of age and probably live up to 10 years.

How do they reproduce?

Among seadragons and seahorses, males of the species carry the young ones to birth. Female leafy seadragons produce up to 250 bright pink eggs.

They deposit the eggs onto a male leafy seadragon’s tail with the help of a long tube, called an ovipositor. The eggs are attached to a special brood patch beneath the tail of the male seadragon, where the eggs are fertilized.

The leafy seadragon enables the hatching of eggs by shaking its tail and rubbing it against the rock and seaweed.

After about nine weeks, the eggs start to hatch depending on the conditions of water. The colors of the ripe eggs could be purple or orange.

The male leafy seadragon pumps his tail to let young ones be born. The process takes about 24 to 48 hours. The seadragon does not release all the eggs from the brood patch together.

That is why the process takes hours and days to complete. After the young ones are born, they are independent to move and hunt. They have a small yolk sack appendaged to them externally.

The sack provides them food and nourishment for the next few days. The sack acts as a safety net for the young and juvenile leafy seadragons.

During the season of breeding, male leafy seadragons hatch two batches of eggs. Since the chance of young leafy seadragons getting hunted by predators is high, only 5% of the eggs eventually survive. They attain sexual maturity after two years.  

What is their conservation status?

The IUCN has updated leafy seadragons as Least Concern on conservation status in its Red List of Threatened Species. It was listed as Near Threatened before that due to its declining population.

Leafy Seadragon Fun Facts

What do leafy seadragons look like?

The leafy seadragon is one of the most beguiling and striking marine creatures of the planet. It has advantageous physical features that help protect itself from predators.

The bodies of the leafy seadragons have leaf-like appendages surrounding them. These adjuncts resemble leaves of seaweeds and other marine flora that they use to blend in completely with the reef rocks and seagrass meadows. Adult leafy seadragons are yellow, green and brown in color.

They have thin bands or stripes over their bodies. The leaf like attachments also make it exceptionally difficult for scuba divers and other marine wildlife enthusiasts to spot leafy seadragons.

Members of the family of Sygnathidae have stiff bodies and fused jaws. Leafy seadragons have a small head, a pipe-like long snout and a tail. They have transparent dorsal and pectoral fins.  

How cute are they?

Leafy seadragons have physical characteristics that are captivating, particularly due to its colors, patterns and peculiar body structure. However, they are bony marine creatures that could be odd-looking and bizarre. Also, they mostly resemble marine flora and seaweeds. Such things hardly come across as cute.

How do they communicate?

Leafy seadragons move around alone for most of the year. There is not a lot of need to communicate among them except when it is time to mate.  

How big is a leafy seadragon?

Leafy seadragons can grow as big as 24 in (61 cm) in length. They are larger than the ruby seadragon. Ruby seadragons can grow up to 18 in (45.7 cm) in length.

How fast can a leafy seadragon swim?

The leaf-like appendages that make leafy seadragons distinct and exotic creatures do not help them move and swim at all. Leafy seadragons swim with the help of their small and translucent fins.

They are poor swimmers who move around with great difficulty. They are also not poisonous. Hence, they depend on their ability to camouflage when there is a threat lingering around them.

The external skin is solid in structure, thus limiting mobility. They swim by rapidly oscillating their fins and using their tails as rudders. The fins and tails help them to steer and turn. It has been observed that individual leafy seadragons tend to remain at one place for longer time periods.

How much does a leafy seadragon weigh?

Leafy seadragons are small marine creatures that weigh about a quarter of a pound, 0.25 lb (113 g). Angelfish are eight times bigger than the leafy seadragons.

What are the male and female names of the species?

There are no distinct terms for the male and female members of the species. Females are larger than the males in size.

What would you call a baby leafy seadragon?

Young and juvenile leafy seadragons do not have a separate term to get addressed.

What do they eat?

Leafy seadragons eat by ingesting its prey with the help of its long, pipe-like snout and small mouths. They are carnivorous beings. They feed on sea lice, mysid shrimps, small fishes, worms, amphipods, zooplanktons and small crustaceans.

Are they dangerous?

Leafy seadragons are potentially dangerous to small marine creatures upon whom they prey and depend for nourishment.  

Would they make a good pet?

Leafy seadragons are not suitable to keep as pets. They are illegal to be taken from the wild and no one has successfully bred these creatures.

Did you know...

Leafy seadragons have eyes that can function completely independent of each other. While one of the eyes can look in one direction, the other one can have a complete picture of the opposite side.

Locally, leafy seadragons are called leafies.

Leafy seadragons are the marine emblem of the state of South Australia.

Leafy seadragons have become the symbol for the conservation of marine life in the state.

Why are leafy seadragons endangered?

Leafy seadragons were enlisted as Near Threatened by the IUCN as their conservation status. Their species was threatened due to a number of reasons including natural as well as human activities around coastal areas.

Human activities resulting in excessive release of pesticides and fertilizers in the ocean bodies, pollution and vast commercial fishing have led to the destruction of their habitats.

Also, their population is threatened due to the rough sea storms and other calamities that destroy their sources of food and habitat. Also, other larger fish, crustaceans and sea anemones eat young leafy seadragons.

Leafy seadragons were poached for commercial and economic uses by humans. They were caught to be displayed in commercial aquariums. It is difficult to breed and maintain them since they are fragile as newborns. They are also collected to be used in alternative medicines.

Leafy seadragons vs. seahorses

Seadragons are a type of marine fish belonging to the family Syngnathidae that also includes seahorses.

Seahorses are commonly found in tropical and temperate waters around the world. Leafy seadragons are endemic to the western Australian waters.

The snouts of leafy seadragons are longer than that of seahorses.

The head of a seahorse looks slightly like a horse’s while the structure of a seadragon resembles a dragon.

The tails of leafy seadragons are longer than the seahorses’. Leafy seadragons cannot curve their tails like seahorses and grab onto a plant in the seagrass bed like seahorses.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! For more relatable content, check out these altum angelfish facts and walleye fish interesting facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our Leafy Seadragon coloring pages.

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Written by Akinwalere Olaleye

Bachelor of Arts specializing in English Literature

Akinwalere Olaleye picture

Akinwalere OlaleyeBachelor of Arts specializing in English Literature

As a highly motivated, detail-oriented, and energetic individual, Olaleye's expertise lies in administrative and management operations. With extensive knowledge as an Editor and Communications Analyst, Olaleye excels in editing, writing, and media relations. Her commitment to upholding professional ethics and driving organizational growth sets her apart. She has a bachelor's degree in English Literature from the University of Benin, Edo State. 

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