Seamoths & sand eels

Little dragonfish (E. draconis)

Little dragonfish (E. draconis)

Comprising the Pegasidae family, seamoths are certainly interesting fish. Formally named after the great winged stallions 0f Greek mythology, members of the family are also commonly referred to as seamoths or dragonfish. Their flattened bodies project enlarged wing-like fins.

Ancient relatives of seahorses and pipefishes, seamoths dwell on the sea floor. They feed on small invertebrates living in the mud or sand. Seamoths have been described as monogamous, but unlike seahorses are broadcast spawners, meaning that they release sperm and eggs into the water column.

These fish range through the Indo-Pacific. Caught in large numbers as bycatch in fisheries targeting other species, seamoths are also harvested for the aquarium trade. Very little is known about them, but some are suspected to be threatened as a result of exploitation.

The Hypoptychidae, or sand eels, are a small family of fish native to temperate East Asia. The family includes two genera, both containing a single species. They exhibit male care of eggs with alternative mating strategies. Larger males guard eggs while some smaller 'sneaker males' cheat by encroaching on the larger males' territory.

Pegasidae (Seamoths)

Photo Scientific Name Common Name IUCN Red List Status Profile Range
Eurypegasus_draconis_CCBYSA3.0 Eurypegasus draconis
(Linnaeus, 1776)
LC logo_wikilogo_eolGBIFurl Indian & Pacific Oceans
Eurypegasus_papilio_JohnRandall_CCBYNC3.0 E. papilio
(Gilbert, 1905)
Hawaiian sea-moth fish LC logo_wikilogo_eolGBIFurl Hawaiian Islands
Pegasus_lancifer_JulianFinnCCBY Pegasus lancifer
Kaup, 1861
Sculptured seamoth LC logo_wikilogo_eolGBIFurl S. Australia
Pegasus_laternarius_Izuzuki_CCBYSA3.0 P. laternarius
Cuvier, 1816
Brick seamoth DD logo_wikilogo_eolGBIFurl Indo-West Pacific
h-waleananus P. tetrabelos
Osterhage, Pogonoski, Appleyard & White, 2016
DD logo_wikiGBIFurl N. Australia
PegasusVolitans_AustralianNationalFishCollection_CCBY P. volitans
Linnaeus, 1758
Longtail seamoth DD logo_wikilogo_eolGBIFurl Indo-West Pacific

Hypoptychidae (Sand Eels)

Photo Scientific Name Common Name(s) Red List Status Profile Range
h.waleananus Aulichthys japonicus
Brevoort, 1862
Tubenose LC logo_wikilogo_eolGBIFurl Japan
H. dybowski Hypoptychus dybowskii Steindachner, 1880 Korean sandlance, Japanese sandlance DD logo_wikilogo_eolGBIFurl NE Asia

IUCN Red List key 

EW=Extinct in the Wild
CR=Critically Endangered
NT=Near Threatened
LC=Least Concern
DD=Data Deficient
NE=Not Evaluated

(Click here for a full explanation of IUCN Red List categories.)

A note on 'Data Deficient' species: Species that are assessed as Data Deficient are deemed to have insufficient information known about them to carry out a proper conservation assessment. Although such species are not assessed as threatened, we may find out that they in fact are, once enough data is obtained.

Banner image of leafy seadragon (Phycodurus eques) by Gaetano Gargiulo/Guylian Seahorses of the World