Pegasus laternarius 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Actinopterygii Syngnathiformes Pegasidae

Scientific Name: Pegasus laternarius Cuvier, 1816
Common Name(s):
English Brick Seamoth
Taxonomic Source(s): Palsson, W.A. and Pietsch, T.W. 1989. Revision of the acanthopterygian fish family Pegasidae (order Gasterosteiformes). Indo-Pacific Fishes 18: 1038.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Data Deficient ver 2.3
Year Published: 2017
Date Assessed: 2016-05-11
Assessor(s): Pollom, R.
Reviewer(s): Lim, A. & Ralph, G.
Contributor(s): Wiswedel, S.
Pegasus laternarius is a pegasid fish found in the Indo-West Pacific. It inhabits mud bottoms between depths of 25 and 90 m. The major threat to this species is being caught as bycatch in trawl, seine, and dredge fisheries. It is assumed to share similar life-history traits of other pegasids including long-term pair bonds, low densities and slow movement, all of which make them vulnerable to exploitation. Even though there is continuing unintentional exploitation of wild populations through bycatch in non-target fisheries, existing data are insufficient to estimate population reductions. Therefore this species is listed as Data Deficient.
Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:Pegasus laternarius is known to occur from Southern India through to the western Pacific Ocean, including the Gulf of Thailand and South China Sea, and as far north as Suruga Bay in Japan. It has been found along the coasts of China, India, Japan, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Taiwan and Thailand (Palsson and Pietsch 1989, Vincent 1997).
Countries occurrence:
China (Fujian, Guangdong); India (Tamil Nadu); Japan (Honshu, Kyushu, Shikoku); Philippines; Sri Lanka; Taiwan, Province of China; Thailand
FAO Marine Fishing Areas:
Indian Ocean – western; Indian Ocean – eastern; Pacific – northwest; Pacific – western central
Additional data:
Continuing decline in area of occupancy (AOO):Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in area of occupancy (AOO):UnknownEstimated extent of occurrence (EOO) - km2:
Continuing decline in extent of occurrence (EOO):UnknownExtreme fluctuations in extent of occurrence (EOO):Unknown
Continuing decline in number of locations:Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in the number of locations:Unknown
Lower depth limit (metres):91
Upper depth limit (metres):27
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:Little is known about the population dynamics of Pegasus laternarius. Other pegasid fishes have been shown to occur at very low densities (Vincent 1997,  Currie et al. 2009) and it is assumed that P. laternarius is similar.

Although it is clear that there is current and continuing pressure on wild populations of P. laternarius from bycatch, the volumes harvested are unknown and it is unclear to what extent this is affecting populations in the water. It can however be safely assumed that due to their known biology and life-history traits combined with the extent of the fisheries in which they are caught as bycatch, exploitation is causing populations to decrease.
Current Population Trend:Decreasing
Additional data:

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:Relatively little is known about the habitat preferences and ecology of this cryptic fish. Adults are most often caught by trawl on mud bottoms at depths between 25 and 90 m (Palsson and Pietsch 1989). Other pegasids are known to occur on sand and gravel as well as among seagrass (Pietsch and Palsson 1999).

Pegasids are slow moving and live in habitats shared with species targeted by food fisheries, and they are therefore easily caught as bycatch in many gears including seine, trawl, dredge or shrimp nets (Vincent 1997, Pietsch and Palsson 1999). Fecundity is thought to be relatively high and the young are planktonic; however, as adult density is typically low,  it is assumed that juvenile survival is poor (Palsson and Pietsch 1989, Vincent 1997). Like many other syngnathids, some pegasid fishes are known to have long-term pair bonds (Kuiter 1985, Herold and Clark 1993). This also makes them susceptible to exploitation as disruption of mating pairs could lead to decreased reproductive opportunities over the lifetime of the fish (Pajaro et al. 2004).
Continuing decline in area, extent and/or quality of habitat:Unknown
Movement patterns:Unknown

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: Pegasus laternarius, among other pegasids, is known to be used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) in southern China as a cure for a variety of ailments (Palsson and Pietsch 1989, Vincent 1997). Trade surveys on mainland China and in Hong Kong revealed a large trade in pegasids, potentially amounting to millions of individuals per year with a large proportion of identified as P. laternatius. Trade was also reported to be expanding into Vietnam and Indonesia with an increased demand in pegasids as a cheap alternative to seahorses (Vincent 1997). 

Although the trade in pegasids is relatively small compared to that of other syngnathids, especially seahorses, it is believed that as the availability of the of seahorses decreases and price increases, the demand for pegasids may increase (Vincent 1997, Pajaro et al. 2004).

There are reports of trade in pegasids, including P. laternarius for aquarium display but the volumes are believed to be very low (Vincent 1997, Pajaro et al. 2004).

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): The primary threat to Pegasus laternarius is being caught as bycatch in seine, trawl, and dredge fisheries that occur throughout its known habitat (Palsson and Pietsch 1989, Vincent 1997, Pietsch and Palsson 1999).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: There are no species-specific conservation measures in place for Pegasus laternarius. Population monitoring and an assessment of bycatch are needed.

Classifications [top]

9. Marine Neritic -> 9.1. Marine Neritic - Pelagic
9. Marine Neritic -> 9.3. Marine Neritic - Subtidal Loose Rock/pebble/gravel
9. Marine Neritic -> 9.4. Marine Neritic - Subtidal Sandy
9. Marine Neritic -> 9.5. Marine Neritic - Subtidal Sandy-Mud
9. Marine Neritic -> 9.6. Marine Neritic - Subtidal Muddy
9. Marine Neritic -> 9.9. Marine Neritic - Seagrass (Submerged)
10. Marine Oceanic -> 10.1. Marine Oceanic - Epipelagic (0-200m)
3. Species management -> 3.1. Species management -> 3.1.1. Harvest management
3. Species management -> 3.1. Species management -> 3.1.2. Trade management
4. Education & awareness -> 4.2. Training
4. Education & awareness -> 4.3. Awareness & communications

In-Place Research, Monitoring and Planning
  Action Recovery plan:No
  Systematic monitoring scheme:No
In-Place Land/Water Protection and Management
  Conservation sites identified:No
  Occur in at least one PA:Unknown
  Area based regional management plan:No
  Invasive species control or prevention:Unknown
In-Place Species Management
  Harvest management plan:No
  Successfully reintroduced or introduced beningly:No
  Subject to ex-situ conservation:Unknown
In-Place Education
  Subject to recent education and awareness programmes:No
  Included in international legislation:No
  Subject to any international management/trade controls:No
5. Biological resource use -> 5.4. Fishing & harvesting aquatic resources -> 5.4.3. Unintentional effects: (subsistence/small scale) [harvest]
♦ timing:Ongoing ♦ scope:Unknown ♦ severity:Unknown ⇒ Impact score:Unknown 
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.2. Species disturbance
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.3. Indirect species effects -> 2.3.7. Reduced reproductive success

5. Biological resource use -> 5.4. Fishing & harvesting aquatic resources -> 5.4.4. Unintentional effects: (large scale) [harvest]
♦ timing:Ongoing ♦ scope:Unknown ♦ severity:Unknown ⇒ Impact score:Unknown 
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.2. Species disturbance
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.3. Indirect species effects -> 2.3.7. Reduced reproductive success

1. Research -> 1.2. Population size, distribution & trends
1. Research -> 1.3. Life history & ecology
1. Research -> 1.5. Threats
1. Research -> 1.6. Actions
3. Monitoring -> 3.1. Population trends
3. Monitoring -> 3.2. Harvest level trends
3. Monitoring -> 3.3. Trade trends

Bibliography [top]

Currie, D.R., Dixon, C.D., Roberts, S.D., Hooper, G.E., Sorokin, S.J. and Ward, T.M. 2009. Fishery-independent by-catch survey to inform risk assessment of the Spencer Gulf Prawn Trawl Fishery. Report to PIRSA Fisheries. South Australian Research and Development Institute (Aquatic Sciences), Adelaide. SARDI publication No F2009/000369-1. SARDI Research Report Series No.390.

Herold, D. and Clark, E. 1993. Monogamy, spawning and skin-shedding of the sea moth, Eurypegasus draconis (Pisces: Pegasidae). Environmental Biology of Fishes 37: 219-236.

IUCN. 2017. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2017-3. Available at: (Accessed: 7 December 2017).

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

Pajaro, M.G., J.J. Meeuwig, B.G. Giles and A.C.J. Vincent. 2004. Biology, fishery and trade of sea moths (Pisces:Pegasidae) in the central Phillipines. Oryx 38: 432-438.

Palsson, W.A. and Pietsch, T.W. 1989. Revision of the acanthopterygian fish family Pegasidae (order Gasterosteiformes). Indo-Pacific Fishes 18: 1038.

Pietsch, T. W. and Palsson, W. A. 1999. Pegasidae. In: Carpenter, K. E. and Niem, V. E. (eds), The Living Marine Resources of the Western Central Pacific, pp. 2262. United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), Rome, Italy.

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

Vincent, A.C.J., Foster, S.J. and Koldewey, H.J. 2011. Conservation and management of seahorses and other Syngnathidae. Journal of Fish Biology 78: 1681-1724.

Citation: Pollom, R. 2017. Pegasus laternarius. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2017: e.T16475A1073433. . Downloaded on 18 June 2018.
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