Can You Keep A Sea Dragon As Pet? Is It Legal?

Can you have a Leafy Sea Dragon as a pet? A Sea Dragon is a bizarre sea creature that every fish enthusiast wants to keep as a pet. The idea, though, is tempting, but is it worth it?

Whether you can keep a Sea Dragon as a pet or not is a confusing thought for many. If you are a hobby pet collector, Sea Dragon might prove a wrong pet for you. However, if you are a breeder or have a degree in the aquatic/ marine department, you might domesticate one to learn about the animal.

There are very few Sea Dragons as pets in the world. It is since Sea Dragons first are illegal (mainly) as pets, and second, they are too difficult to care for. Keeping them as pets isn’t as easy as multiple housing fishes in an aquarium. Even though it is a marine fish, you cannot raise it as hassle-free as other common fish. That is why, even if you are wondering about owning a pet Sea Dragon, switch your fascination to another easy and possible animal.

Sea Dragon: Where Do They Come From?

Sea Dragon is a marine animal or an aquatic fish that belongs to the family Syngnathidae. It got its name from the long leaf-like protrusions appearance that resembles dragon-like. However, despite their dynamic name, Sea Dragons are poor swimmers who, instead of swimming like an aquatic, will drift with even light currents. 

Sea Dragons are native to the southern and western coasts of Australia. Currently, there are three known species, including leafy sea dragon, weedy sea dragon, and ruby sea dragon (newly discovered). The sea dragon is also closely associated with other marines, including seahorses and pipefishes. 

Can You Own A Pet Sea Dragon?

Sea Dragon Species Overview

NameSea Dragon
Other NamesSea Serpent, Water Dragon,
Dragon Sea Monster
Scientific NamesPhycodurus eques
KingdomAnimalia
PhylumChordata
ClassActinopterygii
OrderSyngnathiformes
Family and SubfamilySyngnathidae and Syngnathinae
GenusPhycodurus
SpeciesP. eques
SizeLength: 20 to 24 cm (8.0 to 9.5 in)
Weight: A quarter of a pound
Lifespan5 to 9 years

Does Sea Dragon Make Good Pets?

If you have been thinking of getting a Sea Dragon, remember they do not make good pets. Yes, they are gorgeous and fascinating, but keeping them as pets might prove bizarre for many.

No matter which species of Sea Dragon you go for, it makes no difference since each of them is very demanding.

Even in the past, when individuals tried domesticating Sea dragons, the poor animal died early due to inadequate care and an unconventional lifestyle. 

Is It Legal To Keep Sea Dragon As A Pet?

It is illegal for a private person to catch, possess, pet, harm, kill or trade a Sea Dragon. Only individuals with a permit can catch Sea Dragons from the wild in order to present them at Zoos and Aquariums.

Even a non-certified breeder can’t step out in the wild and catch these aquatic animals. If done, they can land into serious legal trouble. 

Is Sea Dragon legal to own in Australia?

In Australia, Sea Dragon isn’t particularly illegal to own, but a private person can’t capture one. And since Sea Dragons are less likely to be found anywhere else in the wild (Except in Zoos and aquariums, though these institutions do not trade animals to individuals), it isn’t simply possible to own one.

New South Wales (NSW) Marine Safety Authority classifies Sea Dragon as a protected species because of their vulnerability. Therefore, collecting and capturing them without a permit is punishable by law. Even permits are only granted to those who are capturing Sea Dragons for either research or conservation efforts. 

Are Sea Dragons legal in the U.S.?

No, neither are Sea Dragons legal in the United States nor can one import them inside the country. It is even impossible to export Sea Dragons out of South Australia (their native place), let alone bring them into any State or Country.

Even a limited number of Zoos and aquariums in the United States raise Sea dragons in their captivity. For instance, you can find Weedy Sea Dragons in the San Diego Zoo or Baby Sea Dragons at Georgia Aquarium. The latter is the third facility in the United States that has successfully hatched/bred Sea Dragon in captivity. 

Can you have Sea Dragons as pets?

No, Sea Dragons aren’t the marine fishes that any private person should own. Sea Dragons are endemic to the temperate marine waters of Australia, and captivating them somewhere else is not possible.

Though having them as pets is nearly impossible, even if someone gets the chance, he/ she will end up killing the poor animal due to lack of care. Also, in most parts of the world, Sea Dragons are illegal to own, and keeping them at home can land you in legal trouble.

More about Sea Dragons

Sea Dragon Housing Needs

Sea Dragons in the wild survive in shallow coastal water. Their natural enclosure seems to include seagrasses, rocky kelp forests, and seaweed beds. Though they spend most of their time in the same location, Sea Dragons may sometimes travel across the territory. 

In captivity (Zoos or Aquarium), professionals build a similar enclosure like that in Southern Australia for housing Sea Dragons. Ensuring the quality of water and the depth of enclosure is essential for the healthy raising of these fishes.

The depth of their enclosure is essential to focus upon since leafy and weedy sea dragons can’t make it below 150 feet. Only Ruby Sea dragons are found in deep waters, and that is why it took so long to discover the existence of these species. Until recently (in 2015), only two species of Sea dragons were known to the world. 

Sea Dragon Temperature and Humidity Needs

Sea Dragons are endemic to the waters of the central NSW coast, south coast of Australia, and south-western Western Australia for temperature and humidity needs. Besides that, Sea Dragons can’t make it for more than a few days in different temperatures and environments. 

Sea Dragon Dietary Needs

Sea Dragons are carnivorous with a very limited diet. Since their mouth is like a long tube and they can’t wide open their jaw, they only swallow their food.

Some of the common things they feed upon include Zooplankton, fish larvae, mysid shrimp, worms, tiny crustaceans, sea lice, and tiny fishes. For eating, Sea Dragons use a powerful suction similar to that of a drinking straw. They swallow their food whole and digest it later.

Common Health Problems with Sea Dragon

Of the very limited diseases reported in Sea Dragons, the Leafy Sea Dragon commonly suffer from epitheliocystis, Vibrio septicemia, and coccidiosis. Whereas on the other hand, the Weedy Sea Dragon suffers from health problems, including mycobacteriosis and scuticociliatosis.

However, there is not much known about health issues in Ruby Sea Dragon since not much research has been done yet. It has not been a decade since Ruby Sea Dragons were discovered, and scientists are still working on knowing this species better.

How Much Does a Sea Dragon Cost?

Sea Dragons are not in sale; thus, their true value is not known. However, they are always high in demand amongst pet enthusiasts and private researchers. Therefore, this combination of no supply and high demand will definitely make a Sea Dragon cost a fortune.

As a rough estimate, if Sea Dragons are ever at the sale, a single of them would cost nowhere less than $15000.

Where to buy a Sea Dragon?

Where to find a Sea Dragon Breeder? Since Sea Dragons are not in the sale, they are nowhere to buy. Neither are they on sale in any pet shop nor are there any breeders who breed Sea Dragon.

Some Sea Dragon Facts for Kids

  • A Sea Dragon is a fish.
  • Sea Dragons are poor swimmers despite being fish and a popular marine animal.
  • Sea Dragons have threatened species and are only available to humans for preservation and conservation purpose.
  • Possessing a Sea Dragon (by a private person) is illegal all across the world (Almost).
  • Instead of chewing, Sea Dragons suck their food.
  • Due to the scarcity of data, it is unknown exactly how many sea dragons are present in the world today.
  • Sea Dragons have a restricted habitat and can’t survive in any other condition beyond that.
  • A Sea Dragon would spend his entire life alone except for the time of mating. It is only the mating season when two sea dragons are seen along.
  • Leafy Sea Dragons have eyes that work independently of each other. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Sea Dragons Poisonous?

No, Sea Dragons, in general, are not poisonous, but the Blue Sea Dragons are venomous to their predators.

Can you buy leafy sea dragons?

Buying a Leafy Sea Dragon isn’t possible since none of them are on sale. They are either present in the wild (in regions of Australia) or in any commercial organization (Zoo or Aquarium).

Are sea dragons considered fish?

Yes, Sea Dragon is a marine fish that belongs to the family Syngnathidae. Its close relatives include Sea Dragons, pipefish, and seahorses.

Is a sea dragon a seahorse?

Both Sea Dragon and Sea Horse belong to the same family, ‘Syngnathidae’; however, they aren’t the same animals. While Sea Dragons are exclusively native to Australia, Sea Horses are found in tropical and subtropical waters all around the world. Both the marines are different in a number of ways.

Wrapping up…

That was all about ‘Keeping a Pet Sea Dragon’. No matter how much the idea fascinates you, you can’t own a Sea Dragon. Majorly because it is impossible to have those resources that can provide a suitable life for Sea Dragons.

No matter how much you try, the poor animal will die soon in captivity. And besides that, it is illegal to own, possess, capture, kill or trade a Sea Dragon almost all across the world.

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