Painted Dragonet (Eocallionymus papilio)

Family: Callionymidae

"It is also commonly known as a Stinkfish however it's not known to smell!"

The Painted Dragonet (Eocallionymus papilio) is a small fish species that has colourful facial and dorsal fin markings. It belongs to the fish family know as 'Dragonets' (Callionymidae) which are also commonly referred to as 'Stinkfishes'. Dragonets are benthic species (spend their time living and foraging on the bottom) and will often bury themselves in the sand. The Painted Dragonet is endemic to the waters of southern Australia from southern Western Australia (near Perth) to southern Queensland (including NSW) and Tasmania. This fish can generally be found living in sheltered estuaries but has also been found on coastal rocky reefs. As it is a small species it can be difficult to find, especially as it has the ability to blend in well with its surroundings. It is known to occur from depths of 1 metre to 50 metres.

Males have much brighter colours than females and the colours between individuals can be highly variable. Males have a spotted pattern above and vertical striping below whilst the females are also spotted above but are blotched below. Additionally, the first dorsal fin of the male is larger and more colourful than that of the female. Male and female Painted Dragonets have been observed coming together on the bottom and then swimming upwards joined together as they are mating. They rise with their ventral fins together so that they can spawn, the eggs will float away in the water column and the larvae are planktonic. The best place to find the Painted Dragonet is to search amongst sponge gardens and seagrass meadows in sheltered estuaries.

The Painted Dragonet grows to a maximum length of approximately 12cm however it is more commonly seen at lengths of 5 to 7cm.


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