Seahorse Pictures and Facts
If you are interested in marine life, then seahorses may be part of your study. These unique, tiny fishes can be elusive and shy in nature so enjoying seahorse pictures and their presence in aquariums is how most of us get to know them.
On this page you can enjoy seahorse pictures and find a few facts as well.
All images on this page are available as posters on Art.com.
Introduction photo by Tambako the Jaguar.
According to The Great Book of the Sea by Fancesco Guerrini, the long-snouted seashorse, the most commmon type, can be found living in shallower waters and lagoons. They live at depths of 25 to 150ft. They are generally found in the Eastern Atlantic, Mediterranean, and Black Seas.
Seahorses are fish. They breathe through gills.
These seahorses use their concealing coloration for protection. They can actually change color to match their surroundsings. They use their prehensile tail to wind around coral and seaweed to anchor themselves. They prefer living amongst fields of algae or Posidonia seaweed.
Note: A prehensile tail is one that is adapted to be able grasp objects.
Clearly the fish in this seahorse picture doesn't demonstrate the concealing colors but it has anchored itself to the coral.
These long-snouted seashorses are very closely related to Pipefishes and grow to be 4" to up to almost 7" long. There are also larger species of seahorses, up to just over a foot in length. Unlike pipefishes however their head/neck has an S shape which gives them their remsemblance to a horse. They belong to the order of Syngnathiformes. (Genus Hippocampus)
You can refer to this article for more information about the Taxonomy and location of seashorses.
The long-snouted seashorse eats small invertebrates that live in the bottom of the sea, such as brine shrimp. They use their bony snout to suck in food and water but they have no teeth so they eat their food "whole". The seahorse can't really turn it's head side to side and if it moves it's entire body to see it's prey, it gives away it's presence. Therefore it moves it's eyes independently, swiveling and allowing it to "keep it's eyes" on it's prey.
In this picture you can see a couple of "ponies" or "fry" (baby seahorses) holding onto the father's tubular snout. However, this doesn't mean that the parents nuture the young, in fact, it seems that the young are released into the ocean and less than 0.5% of them actually reach adulthood.
See a seahorse eating shrimp
As can be seen in almost all of these seahorse pictures, their body is covered with bony plates which have sharp points. They also have dorsal and pectoral fins which they use for swimming. The fins oscillate during this movement, in fact the fins can oscillate as fast as 35 times per second. Using their tail, they can rise or sink in the water. To rise, they straighten it, and to go lower they curl it.
According to Wikipedia, there are nearly 50 species of seahorses. The long snout variety is the most recognizable, but you can see a variety on this page and by visiting other sites like Seahorse Worlds. There are smaller seahorses, such as the Pygmy Seahorse, as well as ones that have other disguises such as the Weedy Seahorse and the Leafy Seahorse.
When a seahorse swims, it typically does so in a vertical position. (upright) However, when it picks up speed, it moves into a horizontal position so that it can propel itself faster through the water. To do this, the seahorse, like many fishes, changes it's position by the movement of gas in it's swim bladder.
You can learn more about the how a swim bladder functions in this Wikipedia article.
It is the male seahorse that incubates eggs. The female transfers eggs to the male during a mating dance. According to Guerrini, the male has a "brood pouch" where the eggs incubate for 3 to 5 weeks before they are expelled. The brood pouch may hold from 318 to 500 eggs although other estimates say the pouch can hold as many as 1,500 eggs.
See the Seahorse Mating Dance - At the end the female transfers eggs to the male for incubation
The male does not always expel all of the eggs, or give birth to all of the young, at once. As mentioned above, only a small percentage of them actually live to adulthood. They are very susceptible to predators and are also often victims of storms which can throw them up on shore.
See Seahorses Giving Birth
The lifespan of seahorses varies. Most seahorses are mature enough to mate and spawn once they are six months to one year old. Some males die after they spawn, this is believed to be due to infection caused by dead "ponies" that weren't expelled. While seahorses maintained in aquariums may live for several years, generally at sea, a lifespan of 3 or 4 years is more typical.
The Weedy Sea Dragon is a close relative of the seahorse. Like the seahorse, the males carry the eggs and they have a prehensile tail for coiling around objects as well. They live in shallow waters along the southern coast of Austrailia and Tasmania. You can learn more about them in this Wikipedia article.
Male seahorses spend nearly their entire life pregnant. According to National Geographic, they begin carrying another batch of eggs within just a day or two of giving birth.
As mentioned above there are many species of seahorse, the long snout being one of the most recognizable. The Pygmy Seahorse is more recently discovered and much harder to spot, thanks to it's very small size. At it's largest, it measures just an inch in height. There is a video below that shows you just how hard it is to find a Pygmy Seahorse.
Pygmy seahorses can be found in the western central portion of the Pacific ocean within coral reefs. On this page, we have several seahorse pictures that let you get a close up look at them.
Pygmy seahorses are either red (& gray) or yellow. Like all seahorses, the males carry the eggs. These tiny seahorses eat plankton primarily.
See if you can spot the Pygmy Seahorse
While Pygmy seahorses are among the smallest in the sea, (You can learn more details about this on the National Geographic page mentioned above) the largest is said to be the Big Belly Seahorse which can grow as large as 13 to 14" in height. You can get a glimpse of some in the video below.
See a Big Bellied Seahorse
This "spiny seahorse" is a reddish brown color but his species can also be yellow/green. The spines further give the horse-like appearance to this fish as it resembles a mane.
This picture shows a Leafy Sea Dragon, another close relative of the seahorse. It is slightly larger than the average seahorse as it measures 8 to 10" in length. It's appearance helps to camouflage it and protect it from faster moving predators. It is generally found in the waters off of southern and western Australia.
You can learn more about it on this page and view it in it's natural environment below.
See the Leafy Sea Dragon
We hope you enjoyed these seahorse pictures and learned some interesting things along the way. You can see more in some of the books mentioned below and on Flickr.