(Dactylopus dactylopus)

The Fingered Dragonet is a species of marine fish found throughout tropical waters from Indonesia to Palau, across the top of Australia, and throughout the central Indo-Pacific. Reaching an average length of 30cms (12 inches) it’s most recognised by its large fan-like pelvic fins, its mottled colouration of brown and tan, and its metallic blue spots on the dorsal fin. It also has exquisite fingered fins and delicate front ‘legs’ that enable it to walk on the substrate. The fish has a tiny mouth, and spends most of its time slowly and methodically moving across the sand dining on micro-crustacea including copepods and amphipods. Many gobies, damselfish, anthias and basslets will compete for food with the slow eating Dragonet. It’s highly prized as an aquarium fish, with a care level of ‘difficult’ due to its sensitive dietary needs and fragile nature.

Above: The Dragonet looks like a caped avenger, with its fancy fins and metallic spots. But it’s in no hurry to ‘save the day’! It has a teeny mouth and is a very slow eater, so has to snack constantly to build up energy.