Ocean seahorses occur from the southern tip of Nova Scotia in Canada, along the east coast of the U.S. south to Brazil and into the Gulf of Mexico.
The seahorse is found in marine habitats associated with aquatic vegetation such as seagrass, eelgrass, mangroves and sponges.
- The oceanic seahorse is up to five inches (12.7 cm) long.
- They are brownish yellow with a characteristic pattern of white lines down the neck and tiny white dots on the tail.
- They have a horse-like head, a prehensile tail and a long tubular snout.
- Their body is covered with bony plates rather than scales like other fish.
- Their eyes can move independently or converge to allow binocular vision.
What Does It Eat?
In the wild: Small fish fry, crustaceans, other invertebrates – basically any live animals small enough to fit in their mouth.
At the zoo: Mysis shrimp and hatch brine shrimp to the youngest.
What Eats It?
Crabs and large fish prey on seahorses.
Seahorses are not social fish except for monogamous mated pairs.
Seahorses are monogamous mating exclusively with the same partner during their lifetime. During courtship, the male and female intertwine their tails to allow the female to position herself over the male’s brood pouch. The female deposits long sticky strings of eggs (250-650 eggs) into the pouch. The eggs are fertilized by sperm inside the male’s pouch and the resulting embryos develop for 20-21 days. The male gives birth holding fast to a plant stem while ejecting the fully independent young who receive no further care or assistance from either parent. The young are less than and inch long at birth – miniature copies of the adult seahorse. Daily greeting rituals reinforce the bond between a monogamous pair of seahorses even during the pregnancy. These greeting rituals facilitate reproductive synchrony so the female has ripe eggs ready as soon as the male gives birth. The pair mates soon after the birth and begin the cycle again. Seahorses mature at eight to 10 months, and can live four to five years.