- Scientific name: Hippocampus
- Common name: Seahorse
- Aquarium size: 100 liters
- Temperament: Calm
- Temperature: 24ºC to 26ºC
- pH: 8.2 to 8.4 (Density 1.023)
- Diet: Omnivores
- Length: Between 1.5 centimeters to 20 centimeters
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The Seahorse is a unique marine species. The most striking thing at first glance is its great resemblance to equines, hence its vulgar name "sea horse".
This is the most obvious characteristic, but there are details that make it equally original, such as that they are monogamous animals, with partners that last a lifetime.
If we also add that the male is the one that incubates the eggs, we are facing a really surprising fish.
We cannot speak of the Seahorse as a single species, but rather it is a group of marine fish belonging to the Singnatidae family , of which the Pipefish and Sea Dragons are also part .
Its scientific name by which all species are called is Hippocampus, which is a combination of two terms from classical Greek:
- Hippos, which means horse in reference to its original resemblance that its head presents, with horses.
- Kampos, which means sea monster, due to its special somewhat peculiar morphology.
Currently , 54 different species of seahorses are recognized in the World Register of Marine Species.
Among all these different species, we find very marked morphological differences, such as size. There are species that are 1.5 centimeters tall, while others can reach 30 centimeters.
And we have references that they have been in existence for about three million years , thanks to some fossils of Seahorse found.
Unfortunately some varieties are on the verge of extinction, due to the pollution that is deteriorating their natural habitats, as well as the massive fishing for their use in traditional Chinese medicine. which attributes healing and aphrodisiac properties.
As I anticipated, we have species that can measure 1.5 centimeters high, while others can measure up to 30 centimeters, although in an aquarium it is not easy for them to exceed 20 centimeters high.
They swim in an upright position thanks to their dorsal fins that move 35 times per second, while the pectoral fins serve as a rudder, to decide where they want to move. This swimming difficulty makes them poor competitors for food.
They are bony fish, their body lacks scales, and is protected by several rows of epidermal bony plates.
The most striking thing about its anatomy is its head, which is topped by what is called a coral net, which is shaped like a crown.
Their eyes move independently, like chameleons, although it is not the only characteristic in which they are similar, since like them, they can change color to blend in with the environment.
Its muzzle is long, much compared to the rest of the head. The mouth is arranged at the end of the muzzle.
They feed by sucking, they don't have teeth so eat whole foods.
Another curious aspect of its morphology is its prehensile tail, which is capable of unscrewing to grip any surface.
There are certain differences between the female seahorse and the male seahorse.
While females have a pointed and rough stomach, males have a smooth surface with an abdominal pouch, which is where the female lays her eggs after spawning and where the male incubates them.
What color are seahorses?
Depending on their natural habitat, their diet, the water temperature and the depth at which they live, the seahorse can adopt different colors.
Seahorses originating in tropical waters, tend to have a brighter coloration and a greater range of colors, than those species of cold or warm water.
Red or orange tones are typical of Hippocampus that live in deep waters.
They also change color in response to certain stimuli.
In situations of stress, anxiety or fear, the Caballitos acquire a darker hue.
The food they receive in the aquarium is crucial to maintain the coloration of the seahorses.
They cannot synthesize the pigments that their cells use, so the diet has to be rich in carotenoids, and some specific products are sold for this purpose.
Types of Seahorse
Although there is a great variety of seahorses, the most common for aquariums are:
It is commonly known as the striped horse or the spiny horse. It is native to the Indian and Pacific Oceans.
It is easily distinguished by the light colored bands that furrow its snout and part of the head.
It has many bumps on the skin, which emulate small horns. They live in places with a lot of algae or soft corals, which they like to cling to.
Native to the Indian and Pacific Oceans, it can reach up to 30 centimeters high, although in the aquarium they rarely exceed 20.
On its head it has a differentiating fact with most seahorses, a five-pointed crown.
They can be found in different shades, going from ivory, yellow or red.
It is known as the Bands Horse or the Caribbean Horse. They originate in the Atlantic Ocean in the most tropical western zone.
It does not have bumps like other Horses, but it does have a bump on its head called a helmet.
Distribution and habitat
Seahorses can be found all over the world, in temperate marine waters, being in the Indian and Pacific Oceans, as well as the western Atlantic area, where we can find most of the species.
They like to live among algae , in mangrove areas, on coral reefs and in river estuaries.
Because their natural habitats are being threatened, and that in some cultures they are used as a medicinal remedy, they are seriously threatened.
An aquarium for seahorses must have at least 100 liters, and if we are looking for a specific one, it should be taller than wide.
We have to maintain a water temperature between 24ºC to 26ºC, with a water density between 1,023 to 1,026, and a pH of 8.2 to 8.4.
The substrate must be of fine sand or small gravel, to which we will add corals or large stones, providing them with shelter.
They also need to have objects to cling to with their tail, such as algae, where they are usually held freely.
The aquarium current must be moderate, and hide all those devices that could be a danger for them, such as thermostats, since they can cling with their tail and be damaged.
With such a small mouth, what do seahorses eat? Surely you have wondered, like many other people.
Obviously, they are very small prey and that they can digest easily, since they do not have teeth and everything that they suck ends up in their stomach.
In the wild they feed on plankton, shrimp and brine.
They consume large amounts of food during the day, it is recommended to feed them 3 or 4 times a day.
In the aquarium we must feed them with live or frozen Artemia and live or frozen mysis, copepods (small crustaceans), which can be supplemented with macroalgae.
Behavior and compatibility
They are fish that maintain an excellent relationship with each other, as well as with the rest of the aquarium inhabitants.
In this sense, it is necessary to look for calm companions or with invertebrates , with whom they do not conflict, because some corals can be toxic or can cause skin burns.
You have to avoid fish that are very aggressive , such as angelfish or puffer fish , which can chase them to eat them.
Although reproduction is possible within the aquarium , the really difficult thing is to get the seahorse pups to succeed.
Reproduction begins with a courtship, which can last several days, although the moment of copulation occurs when the female and the male are permanently coupled.
In this act, the female introduces her laying tube into the male's incubator bag.
It can deposit up to 1,500 eggs, which are fertilized by the male and which will develop in the male's bag for a period of 45 days.
Seahorses are born fully developed, at which point they are abandoned by the father.
They have a high mortality rate in this period, andonly 1% will reach adulthood. They can live between 2 and 6 years.
The Seahorse is a very delicate fish, which is easily stressed , and consequently its life span is reduced.
You always have to provide it with a place that it can cling to with its tail. Due to its anatomy, it is necessary to avoid having places in the aquarium where it could get trapped.
We may be tempted to constantly change the decoration, since like seahorses, they also change color will be affected by the new situation.
It is not convenient to do so, as we increase your stress level.