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Sea Horses: Love Life, Family Life and Habitat

Updated on February 9, 2013
A great photo of hippocampus barbouri, floating around in his undersea world.
A great photo of hippocampus barbouri, floating around in his undersea world. | Source

Sea horses are an interesting and unique ocean animal. They can be ethereal and elegant, or small and stout (the Pygmy sea horse), and all are remarkable to watch. Species hippocampus hails from tropical and temperate waters all over the world. Graceful fish with their long curled tails and their crowns, or coronets as they are sometimes called, have a gentle way about them. Forewarned is forearmed though, don't get in their way when it comes to mating or eating. Males can be aggressive during the mating season. Maybe that's because they usually mate under the full moon! They are also veritable eating machines; they are always on the lookout for food. If they see you coming their way, they will assume that you are going to feed them. Don't be surprised to see them lined up in the tank waiting expectantly for their meal. They will be on that food quicker than you can blink. Plankton and tiny shrimp are some of their favorites.

They can be at the mercy of oceans if they cannot hitch onto something with their tails. Sea horses have developed the habit of hitching onto anything sturdy to avoid being swished around by the ocean tides. Many times they can be found just resting because they really are not very good swimmers. Their fins are modest sized and not very powerful. They are upright swimmers most of the time. Sometimes the little ones hold onto a bigger sea horse's tail. I like to think it is their parent they are holding onto (but it's probably not)! Once they're born, they are on their own. Fun to watch and smart, we could learn a lot from the sea horses of the world.

Their bodies are called exoskeletons and are covered by thin skin; so thin that the delicate structure of their bones shows through. They could make a fashion statement with the colors and patterns that are found on them. Here's a neat trick: they can change their colors at will and this is something they do during their courtships. Wouldn't that be great if we could do that? This biological set up works beautifully for them. If they need to disappear into the background to avoid a predator, this is also easily enough accomplished. If they wish to attract a potential mate, this is done by just changing into their glamour colors!

The males of the species end up being the "moms" and carry the embryos for the full gestation period. There are about thirty five species of sea horses with different gestation periods. All of the young little sea horse embryos stay in the father's brood pouch and continue to grow into miniature versions of papa sea horse. It takes about twenty one days for some species of sea horse to mature and longer for others. When they are all grown up the male expels them from his brood pouch and then, they're on their own. They are then free to go off and do the things that sea horses do.

Sea horses can grow to about 14 inches long and can be as small as .06 inches. They live between one to five years. I would say the most interesting thing about sea horses is that they have no stomachs; hence no way to hold onto food for too long. They almost have to eat constantly to stay alive; their digestive systems are very fast. Related to pipefish, they also have a relative called the sea dragon. He is not quite as sturdy looking as the regular sea horse, he almost looks like a fanciful drawing come to life. His appendages look like pieces of seaweed or some type of vegetation, only prettier!

Sea horses have exoskeletons as shown in this excellent drawing.  A wondrous animal of the oceans.
Sea horses have exoskeletons as shown in this excellent drawing. A wondrous animal of the oceans. | Source
"Sea Horse Garden", 2011
"Sea Horse Garden", 2011 | Source

Intriguing Facts about Seahorses

The female sea horse deposits her eggs inside of the male sea horse's pouch sometime during their mating dance and then the male sea horse somehow fertilizes them while the eggs are inside his pouch. This dance is very graceful to watch. Sometimes before they mate they wrap their tails around each other and swim together checking out their new digs. They also change colors during this time and swirl around each other. After they are done with their love dance unlike some other fish, they seem to want to stick around. The behavior sea horses display seems as if they are checking to make sure everything is all right. Sea horses can change color to suit their environment in order not to become somebody's lunch! Their eyes are similar to lizard eyes and like lizard eyes can move independently. This is very handy when you've got one eye on your dinner and another eye looking out for your safety.They have fins behind their eyes, what we would consider the back of our necks, which help them to steer. Their eyes have a very arresting design of diagonal lines surrounding them. Some sea horses have polka dots, some with stripes or bands and all have the coronet or crown on top of their heads. All in all, a very handsome fish!

Sea Horse Books for Kids


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    • thoughtfulgirl2 profile image

      thoughtfulgirl2 5 years ago from East Coast

      Thank-you, I appreciate your input.:)

    • The Dirt Farmer profile image

      Jill Spencer 5 years ago from United States

      I had no idea seahorses could change color at will! Fascinating article. And your drawing is awesome. Voted up and pinned. (: --Jill

    • Art Girl 27 profile image

      Art Girl 27 6 years ago from East Coast USA

      Cool article. Seemlessly written.

    • Art Girl 27 profile image

      Art Girl 27 6 years ago from East Coast USA

      WoooW Wooow! That's the sound of a sea horse clapping! Nice article!!