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SEAHORSE BASICS

Seahorses are fish belonging to the Syngnathidae family which also includes sea dragons, sea moths, and pipe fish.  They are the genus Hippocampus (this is the H. that you see before the scientific name of a species)  There are approximately 34 separate species of seahorse which range in size from under 1 inch to over 12 inches.  Our species page lists various species and some of their characteristics.  They all live in marine or estuarial waters in shallow coastal areas.  They are found in most parts of the world - anywhere where water temperatures are tropical to temperate.   Check this out for details of the environment (tank & equipment) you need to provide to keep seahorses in your home.

The population of wild seahorses is declining.   Only one species, H. capensis has been officially declared endangered, however for most species there is too little information available to determine their correct status and are therefore considered threatened based on the limited knowledge.   We do know that over 20 million seahorses are caught each year to be used in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and hundreds of thousands are taken for the aquarium and curio trades.  For more information, please see our Wild Caught versus Captive Bred (WC vs CB) page.

A seahorse is a most unusual fish.  They swim in an upright position using the dorsal fin on their back for propulsion and pectoral fins on either side of their head for turning control.  The eyes of a seahorse move independently of each other allowing them to actually look in two directions at once.  More fascinating information is found on our Seahorse Biology page.  Seahorses in aquariums are social animals and are happiest in pairs or small groups.  They will also enjoy attention from you.. talk and sing to them.. tell them how wonderful they are and you will see them blossom.

Wild seahorses eat only live food including zooplankton and small crustaceans.  Seahorses bred or kept in an aquarium may be taught to accept frozen shrimp.  Wild caught (WC) seahorses can be very expensive to feed.  If you are considering buying a wild caught seahorse, please visit the WC vs CB page. Visit the nutrition page for more information on foods and nutrition.

Seahorses are the only animals in which the male actually becomes pregnant.  In a beautiful greeting and courtship dance, the female deposits her eggs into the pouch of the male where they are fertilized and develop.  Some mated pairs perform the greeting dance on a daily basis.  Seahorse babies (called fry) emerge from the pouch fully formed after a gestation of approximately 2-4 weeks.   If you have an interest in seahorse reproduction, visit our Breeding page.  You might also be interested in information on raising fry

One of the most difficult aspects of seahorse keeping is disease and illness.  You can't usually just take this pet to the vet when something goes wrong.  This subject is much too complex for me to attempt to cover. Fortunately, there are places to get help.  I suggest that you read the information available in the libraries at Seahorse.org library and the Syngnathid.org  library both of which have excellent information on diagnosis, treatments, and medications.  I can only stress that your best defense is proper quarantine methods, obsessive attention to water quality, and daily careful observation of your seahorses behavior and eating habits for early identification of a problem.  If your instincts tell you something is wrong, it most likely is... don't ignore it.  I also suggest having a good variety of medications in your home - often it is difficult to get these on short notice and quick action can save lives.  You can quickly receive advice from caring and experienced keepers using the discussion forums at the .org sites.


 



   

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