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Left Image: This image is in the public domain because it contains materials that originally came from the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Hippocampus is a genus of fish known as the seahorse (family Syngnathidae). They are found in temperate and tropical waters all over the world. Seahorses range in size from 16 mm to 35 cm. They are notable for being one of only a few species where the males get pregnant. A seahorse pregnancy lasts approximately two to three weeks. Seahorses are also unusual among fish for being relatively monogamous.


 


Easy to see through: The seahorse is a true fish, with a dorsal fin located on the lower body and pectoral fins located on the head near their gills. Mostly transparent, these often don't show in pictures and even with live animals most people do not see them at first.


Horse Doctor: Seahorse populations have been endangered in recent years by overfishing. The seahorse is used in traditional Chinese herbology, and as many as 20 million seahorses may be caught each year and sold for this purpose.

First Cousins: Though close relatives of seahorses, sea dragons have bigger bodies and leaf-like appendages which enable them to hide among floating seaweed or kelp beds. Sea dragons feed on larval fishes and amphipods, such as small shrimp-like crustaceans called mysids ("sea lice"), sucking up their prey with their small mouths. Many of these amphipods feed on red algae that thrives in the shade of the kelp forests where the sea dragons live.

Let Freedom Reign: While many aquarium hobbyists keep seahorses as pets, seahorses collected from the wild do not tend to fare well in a home aquarium. They will only feed on live foods such as brine shrimp and are prone to stress in an aquarium, which lowers their immune systems and exposes them to diseases. In recent years, however, captive breeding of seahorses has become increasingly widespread. These seahorses tend to do much better in captivity. They are less likely to carry diseases, they will accept frozen foods such as mysid shrimp, and they aren't exposed to the shock and stress of being taken out of the wild and placed in a small aquarium. Captive-bred seahorses are more expensive, but are a better investment as they are much hardier and don't take a toll on wild populations. Seahorses can be kept in an aquarium with other seahorses, pipefish, and other non-aggressive, slow moving fish. Seahorses are slow feeders, and in an aquarium with fast, aggressive feeders, the seahorses will be edged out during feeding. For this reason, there are a limited number of tankmates that can be kept successfully with seahorses.


A Male Mommy: Seahorses reproduce in an unusual way: the male becomes pregnant. The mating pair entwine their tails and the female aligns a long tube called ovipositor with the male's pouch. The eggs move through the tube into the male's pouch where he then fertilizes them. The embryos will develop for between ten days and six weeks, depending on species and water conditions. When the male gives birth he pumps his tail until the baby seahorses emerge.

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 Kingdom: Animalia

 Phylum: Chordata

 Class: Actinopterygii

 Order: Syngnathiformes

 Family: Syngnathidae

 Genus: Hippocampus