Pegasus lancifer Kaup, 1861, Australia.
OTHER COMMON NAMES
Snout very slender but not very elongated (longer in males), ending in a spatulate tip; snout clearly demarcated from head and bearing four spiny ridges. Eyes large and round. Mouth small and protrusible, located ventral to the snout base. Head triangular anteriorly. Head and trunk regions are depressed and broad (broader in females), encased in fused bony plates that bear prominent ridges forming a star pattern. Single dorsal fin posterior to the trunk, with five rays; opposite anal fin also has five rays. Tail long and slender, with bony ridges, ending in a truncate caudal fin with eight to nine rays. Pectoral fins very wide and fanlike when expanded, with 18 rays. Pelvics resemble hooks, with one spine and three rays. Coloration sandy-brown or grayish above, with darker spots on pectorals, a dark longitudinal stripe on the trunk, and a dark stripe at base of the tail; pale underneath. Reaches about 4.7 in (12 cm) in length.
Restricted to southern Australian waters from South Australia to Tasmania.
A bottom-dwelling species occurring in many different coastal habitats, including estuaries, sea grass beds, and sandy bottoms, down to about 180 ft (55 m).
This species can change its color to match that of its surroundings. It also can burrow into the substrate to escape predators. It often “walks” or “crawls” over the bottom in search of small crustaceans or other food items. Many individuals may congregate in estuaries.
FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET
Eats a variety of small invertebrates, such as polychaetes, mollusks, and crustaceans. Their mouths are somewhat protrusible, enabling them to snatch prey from the bottom with ease. Presumably eaten by larger fishes.
Enters sandy bays to breed in the spring, when courtship takes place. During courtship, a female and male remain on the bottom, side by side, until they rise together to spawn, vent to vent, about 3.3 ft (1 m) off the bottom. The posterior tips of the pectoral fins of males become yellow during the reproductive period. The eggs are pelagic, and larvae up to 0.1 in (2.5 mm) are enclosed in a dermal sac, probably an adaptation to a pelagic existence.
Listed as Data Deficient by the IUCN.
SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS
Not a commercial species.
Copyright © 2016-2017 Animalia Life | All rights reserved