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)
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.
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
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
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.