Pegasus lancifer 

Scope: Global

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Actinopterygii Gasterosteiformes Pegasidae

Scientific Name: Pegasus lancifer
Species Authority: Kaup, 1861
Common Name(s):
English Sculptured Dragonfish, Sculptured Seamoth, Dragonfish, Seamoth
Acanthopegasus lancifer (Kaup, 1861)
Parapegasus lancifer (Kaup, 1861)
Taxonomic Source(s): Palsson, W.A. and Pietsch, T.W. 1989. Revision of the acanthopterygian fish family Pegasidae (order Gasterosteiformes). Indo-Pacific Fishes 18: 1–38.
Taxonomic Notes: Synonyms = Acanthopegasus lancifer McCulloch, 1915 (Australian synonym) (Pogonoski et al. 2002); Acanthopegasus lancifer (Kaup, 1856) – not valid; Parapegasus lancifer (Kaup, 1856) – not valid; Pegasus natans (non-Linnaeus, 1766) – misidentification.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Data Deficient ver 2.3
Year Published: 1996
Date Assessed: 1996-08-01
Needs updating
Assessor(s): Vincent, A.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:Pegasus lancifer is a temperate, inshore endemic species (Paxton et al. 1989) whose extent of occurrence includes the southern coast of Australia between Rottnest Island, Western Australia and Lakes Entrance, Victoria including Tasmania (Palsson and Pietsch 1989, Edgar 1997).

No information is available on the species’ area of occupancy.

Museum Records from Australian Fish Collections (Pogonoski et al. 2002)
146 specimens (Standard Length 18–119 mm), collected from depths of 0–56 m, ranging in geographical distribution from off Lakes Entrance (37°53’S, 148°E), Victoria, southwards to Hobart (43°07’S), Tasmania and north-westwards to Rottnest Island (32°S, 115°30), WA, collected between 1909 and 1996.
Countries occurrence:
Australia (South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria, Western Australia)
FAO Marine Fishing Areas:
Indian Ocean – eastern
Additional data:
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:Possibly occurs in the following Australian marine protected area: Great Australian Bight Marine Park, SA (Pogonoski et al. 2002). No information from elsewhere.
Current Population Trend:Unknown
Additional data:

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:Habitat
Adult Pegasus lancifer are mainly bottom-dwelling fish that are most often found on sand or mud amongst or near seagrass (Gomon et al. 1994) or near low rubble reef (Kuiter 1996). They occur at a variety of depths from intertidal shallows to ca. 55 m (Gomon et al. 1994).

Pegasus lancifer camouflages itself by rapidly changing colours to match its surroundings and occasionally burrows into the substrate to escape predators. In spring, the species enters sandy bays to breed, sometimes congregating in small numbers. Juveniles are pelagic before taking on the adults’ bottom mode of existence (Kuiter 1985, Gomon et al. 1994). This species is mostly buried during the day, and active at dusk. Males have ornamental patches on the edges of their pectoral fins for displaying to females (Kuiter 1996). Spawning involves the pair swimming upwards together, to several meters from the substrate. They quickly dart back after the release of eggs and sperm, which floats to the surface. These activities have been observed to occur towards dusk on high tides (Kuiter 1993). Seasonal migrations are suggested by the fact that they are trawled with prawns only during certain times of the year (Kuiter 1985). They often crawl over the seabed on their paired fins in search of small crustaceans, worms and molluscs on which they feed (Kuiter 1985, Gomon et al. 1994).

Pegasus lancifer reaches a maximum length of 12 cm (Kuiter 1996).

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Presently, the only known threat to this species is direct take as bycatch in bottom trawls, where P. lancifer is trawled with prawns during certain times of the year (Kuiter 1985).

It is also possible that trawling may also exert indirect effects on habitat used by P. lancifer, and that inshore development may affect their distribution, given depth records from 0–56 m.

There is no known trade for this species at the present time but it may enter the traditional medicine trade along with other pegasids in the future (Vincent 1997).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Environment Australia Listing: Lower Risk (least concern) on an Australia-wide basis, 2002; Australian Society for Fish Biology Listing: Lower Risk (least concern).

Classifications [top]

9. Marine Neritic -> 9.1. Marine Neritic - Pelagic
9. Marine Neritic -> 9.9. Marine Neritic - Seagrass (Submerged)
10. Marine Oceanic -> 10.1. Marine Oceanic - Epipelagic (0-200m)

In-Place Research, Monitoring and Planning
In-Place Land/Water Protection and Management
In-Place Species Management
In-Place Education
5. Biological resource use -> 5.4. Fishing & harvesting aquatic resources -> 5.4.1. Intentional use: (subsistence/small scale) [harvest]
♦ timing:Future    
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

5. Biological resource use -> 5.4. Fishing & harvesting aquatic resources -> 5.4.4. Unintentional effects: (large scale) [harvest]
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

1. Research -> 1.2. Population size, distribution & trends
1. Research -> 1.3. Life history & ecology
1. Research -> 1.5. Threats
3. Monitoring -> 3.1. Population trends

Bibliography [top]

Baillie, J. and Groombridge, B. (comps and eds). 1996. 1996 IUCN Red List of Threatened Animals. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK.

Baillie, J. and Groombridge, B. (eds). 1996. 1996 IUCN Red List of Threatened Animals. pp. 378. International Union for Conservation of Nature, Gland, Switzerland.

Edgar, G.J. 1997. Australian Marine Life. Reed, Kew, Victoria.

Froese, R. and Pauly, D. (eds). 2005. FishBase version (11/2005). World Wide Web electronic publication. Search FishBase.

Gomon, M.F., Glover, J.C.M. and Kuiter, R.H. 1994. The Fishes of Australia's South Coast. State Printer, Adelaide.

Kuiter, R.H. 1985. The remarkable seamoths. Scuba Diver 3: 16–18.

Kuiter, R.H. 1993. Coastal Fishes of South-eastern Australia. Crawford House Press, Bathurst.

Kuiter, R.H. 1996. Guide to Sea Fishes of Australia. New Holland, Frenchs Forest, NSW, Australia.

Palsson, W.A. and Pietsch, T.W. 1989. Revision of the acanthopterygian fish family Pegasidae (order Gasterosteiformes). Indo-Pacific Fishes 18: 1–38.

Paxton, J.R., Hoese, D.F., Allen, G.R. and Hanley, J.E. 1989 Zoological Catalogue of Australia. Vol. 7. Pisces. Petromyzontidae to Carangidae. Australian Biological Resources Study, Australian Government Publishing Service, Canberra

Pogonoski, J.J., Pollard, D.A. and Paxton, J.R. 2002. Conservation Overview and Action Plan for Australian Threatened and Potentially Threatened Marine and Estuarine Fishes. Environment Australia, Canberra, Australia. (See

Vincent, A.C.J. 1997. Trade in pegasid fishes (sea moths), primarily for traditional Chinese medicine. Oryx 31: 199–208

Citation: Vincent, A. 1996. Pegasus lancifer. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 1996: e.T16474A5921981. . Downloaded on 03 December 2016.
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