The weedy sea dragon (Phyllopteryx taeniolatus) has smaller appendages but more varied color.
The leafy seadragon (Phycodurus eques) is the species with the more ornate, leaf-like appendages.
These fish are obviously designed for camouflage. In fact, the fins that they use for propulsion are almost entirely transparent, so even when they are swimming they just appear to be floating—and this helps them to look even more like just another piece of seaweed.
Weedy seadragon among seaweed (Photo: Jeremy Brodt)
While these adaptations help sea dragons to avoid predators, their excellent camouflage also makes it very hard for scientists to get a good population count in the wild. However, even though their numbers are unknown, they are cherished animals in Australia and are protected due to their small geographic range.
So next time you’re at the Aquarium, make sure you stop by and check out these charismatic fish.