Common Seahorse

Scientific name: Hippocampus kuda

Description

The Common Seahorse is by far the one that most people easily think of and have a visual concept of. They have seen it in various forms of art, it is a common tattoo in society, and there are many exhibits and items for home décor that feature it.

The fact that the Common Seahorse offers so many sub species gives it an umbrella type of view in the world. They can be various colors depending on where they are located. There are also some color changes that seem to be gender oriented as well for this particular species of seahorse.

The males are usually gray and the females are typically going to be yellow. The shades can vary from a very light to a very dark color for both genders. They all feature dark spots on their bodies. The males are larger than the females but only about 1 inch. The females can be half or ¾ of the size of them.

One of the really grand features about the Common Seahorse is that every single one of them could be uniquely identified from all the others in the world. They feature the coral net on top of the head. There they will be able to have differences in the way it is structured. Each human has its own set of fingerprints and this works in the same way for the seahorses.

They are one of the few species of seahorses that doesn’t have a texture that is rough. Instead they have one that is very smooth. It isn’t understood if that has to do with their environment or if there is another reason for such a unique characteristic to be present.

The idea of having a Common Seahorse as a pet is one many people have. However, this isn’t a good idea if you don’t know what their needs are. The water in the aquarium has to be  a particular temperature, they need to have a special diet, and they need to have a tank that is clean or they will die from bacteria and disease. They can also die if they decide not to eat due to the living conditions being too stressful.

Behavior

The coral reef areas are very important for the overall survival of this species of seahorse. They use them to have a place to connect the tail to and to latch on. They need this so that they don’t get tired swimming all the time. The are poor swimmers so the tide can really cause them to become exhausted in no time at all.

Most of the time these are very shy and timid creatures. Yet they have been witnessed being aggressive if they don’t have enough habitat to themselves or enough food. The males are very aggressive with each other in the effort to be the one that gets to mate with the females around them.

There are many documented studies out there that show the Common Seahorse is one that is very intelligent. They do well with a routine in captivity and they will remember what is coming next. For example when they hear taping on the glass they will move to the top for food if that is what you do before you feed them each time.

Habitat and Distribution

The temperature of the saltwater has to be right for these seahorses to survive. This ranges from a low of 72 degrees and a high if 77 degrees (Fahrenheit) in the wild. This is very important to note for when you plan on keeping them in captivity.

Indonesia and areas of Australia are where you will find the home of these seahorses. They are going to be found very close to the shore. They are also going to stay in areas that are warm all year long.

They may be there but you won’t find them unless you really look for them. The sea grass and the coral reef are places that allow them to stay out of the spotlight. Try to see photos of them before you go exploring in the wild so that you don’t overlook them.

Common Seahorse Video

Evolution

We don’t know much at all about the evolution process of the Common Seahorse. We do know that they have been around for more than 3 million years. We also know that they used to be quite a bit larger than what you will find today. There is only speculation about how they branched from a common ancestor though. Only time will tell if we are able to get enough information to piece it all together one day.

Diet and Feeding Habits

Seahorses don’t have any type of digestive system. They have to eat very often so that they can continue to have energy. They can’t eat very fast either so they spend many hours feeding just to survive.

They swallow all of their food whole as they don’t have any teeth in their mouths. They have a snout that is long and like a pipe. They usually will feed on guppies and Brine Shrimp that are very small in size. They can’t consume food that is any bigger than their snout.


Reproduction

When a male finds a female for mating he will try to woe her with relaxing movements. She will start to follow them along with him. Within a couple of days they are so used to each other they can move in sync. They may mate up to three times in a given season if they meet each other early enough in the process.

The copying of movements at the same time allows the females to deposit eggs into the pouch of the males. Yes, it is one of those strange mysteries in the world that the males are the ones to carry the eggs and give birth to live young. This can be up to 5 weeks after the eggs have been deposited.

They don’t do anything at all to care for the young. They have to fend for themselves from the very start. This is hard though and so there is a mortality rate of about 99%. There are too many predators out there that find them to be a great meal.

Predators

Both penguins and an array of fish will feed on the young Common Seahorses and they will also feed on the adults if they aren’t well hidden. Humans offer many problems for them too. For example they tend to pollute the various bodies of water. When that occurs there is less habitat for them. The various prey they eat is also dying off due to pollution so getting enough food becomes a problem too. Then they are less likely to mate producing even more problems.

They also trap them intentionally. There is big money to be made from the sells of the Common Seahorse. Millions of them are sold every year for Chinese medicines to be made. The demand for them as pets also continues to grow. Do to the reduced numbers of them there have been many efforts to stop these human elements but so far there is just not enough in place to enforce the protection of the Common Seahorse.

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2 comments

Hello, hello, profile image

Hello, hello, 5 years ago from London, UK

Very interesting and thank you for the hard work of research and writing.


Pamela Kinnaird W profile image

Pamela Kinnaird W 5 years ago from Maui and Arizona

Fascinating article. How awful that seahorses have so many predators. Great hub. Voted up.

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