Animal Species:Little Dragonfish, Eurypegasus draconis (Linneaus, 1766)

The Little Dragonfish is an unusual looking fish. It's body is encased in hard bony armour.

Standard Common Name

Little Dragonfish

Alternative Name/s

Common Seamoth, Short Dragonfish, Short Seamoth


The Little Dragonfish can be recognised by its distinctive shape and bony armour. The species often resembles pieces of shell or rubble lying on the bottom. It can be extremely difficult to spot underwater because of its impressive camouflage. Males have a broad blue-white pectoral fin margin which may be "flashed" when the fish is disturbed.

The genus Eurypegasus contains two species, Eurypegasus draconis and Eurypegasus papilio. These fish are easily separated based on distribution. E.papilio is known only to occur in the Hawaiian Islands.

The other genus in this family is Pegasus. Eurypegasus draconis can be distinguished from Pegasus by the lower number of tail rings, 8 rarely 9, versus 11 or more in Pegasus.

Fishes in the family Pegasidae are generally less than 15 cm in length, although specimens up to 18 cm have been reported.

Size range

The species grows to 8 cm in length.


The Little Dragonfish occurs in tropical and warm temperate marine waters of the Indian Ocean to the Central Pacific. In Australia it is known from north-western Western Australia, and from northern Queensland to central New South Wales.

The map below shows the Australian distribution of the species based on public sightings and specimens in Australian Museums.  Source: Atlas of Living Australia.

Eurypegasus draconis

Distribution by collection data

Ozcam map of Little Dragonfish specimens in the Australian Museums.

What does this mean?


The species lives in estuaries and silty areas.



What does this mean?


  1. Hoese, D.F., Bray, D.J., Paxton, J.R. & G.R. Allen. 2006. Fishes. In Beesley, P.L. & A. Wells. (eds) Zoological Catalogue of Australia. Volume 35. ABRS & CSIRO Publishing: Australia. parts 1-3, pages 1-2178.
  2. Kuiter, R.H. 1996. Guide to Sea Fishes of Australia. New Holland. Pp. 433. Kuiter, R.H. 2000. Coastal Fishes of South-eastern Australia. Gary Allen. Pp. 437.
  3. Kuiter, R.H. 2000. Seahorses, Pipefishes and their Relatives. A Comprehensive Guide to Syngnathiformes. TMC Publishing Pp. 240.
  4. Paxton, J.R., D.F. Hoese, G.R. Allen & J.E. Hanley. 1989. Zoological Catalogue of Australia Vol.7 Pisces Petromyzontidae to Carangidae. Canberra: Australian Biological Resources Survey. Pp. i-xii, 1-665.
  5. Palsson, W.A. & T.W. Pietsch. 1989. Revision of the Acanthopterygian Fish Family Pegasidae (Order Gasterosteiformes). Indo-Pacific Fishes. 18: 1-38.


Mark McGrouther , Senior Fellow
Last Updated:

Tags Fishes, Ichthyology, Little Dragonfish, Eurypegasus draconis, Pegasidae, brown, yellow, odd-shaped, 10 cm - 30 cm, countershaded, estuaries, marine, adult,