Animal Species:Sculptured Seamoth, Pegasus lancifer Kaup, 1861

The Sculptured Seamoth is a bottom-dwelling species that resembles a moth due to it's large horizontally directed pectoral fins and patchy colouring.

Sculptured Seamoth at Edithburg Jetty

Sculptured Seamoth at Edithburg Jetty
Photographer: David Muirhead © David Muirhead

Standard Common Name

Sculptured Seamoth


The Sculptured Seamoth has a depressed body that is encased in fused bony scale plates. It has a rostrum that is square in cross section. There is a single short based dorsal fin positioned opposite the anal fin. The pectoral fins are large and horizontally directed.

Three species of seamoths in two genera (Pegasus and Eurypegasus) occur in Australian waters. The two genera can be separated by a combination of characters including the number of tail rings (11 or more in Pegasus, 8 or 9 in Eurypegasus), deep pits behind the eyes (lacking in Pegasus, present in Eurypegasus), and the position of the eyes (not visible from below the fish in Pegasus, visible from below in Eurypegasus).

Size range

This species grows to just over 10 cm in length.


The Sculptured Seamoth is endemic to Australia. It is known from eastern Victoria, around the south of the country to south-western Western Australia.

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

Pegasus lancifer

Distribution by collection data

Ozcam map of Sculptured Seamoth in the Australian Museums.

What does this mean?


It is a benthic species that occurs from intertidal depths down to at least 55 m. It is usually found in muddy, silty and sandy seabeds, often in areas of seagrass.



What does this mean?


  1. Glover, C.J.M. in Gomon, M.F., Glover, C.J.M. & R.H. Kuiter (Eds). 1994. The Fishes of Australia's South Coast. State Print, Adelaide. Pp. 992.
  2. Kuiter, R.H. 1996. Guide to Sea Fishes of Australia. New Holland. Pp. 433.
  3. Kuiter, R.H. 2000. Coastal Fishes of South-eastern Australia. Gary Allen. Pp. 437.
  4. 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 fish, ichthyology, Sculptured Seamoth, Pegasus lancifer, sandy bottom, Pegasidae, countershaded, <10 cm, marine, adult,