Special Feeding Adaptations of the Seahorse – How Seahorses Eat

Photograph showing Seahorses sucking their food

Because seahorses swim so slowly, eating can be a challenge. Further complicating things is the fact that a seahorse has no stomach. It needs to eat almost constantly because food quickly passes straight through its digestive system. According to The Seahorse Trust, an adult seahorse will eat 30 to 50 times per day, while baby seahorses eat 3,000 pieces of food per day.
Seahorses do not have teeth; they suck in their food and swallow it whole. Thus their prey needs to be very small. Primarily, seahorses feed on plankton, small fish and small crustaceans, such as shrimp and copepods.
To compensate for its lack of swimming speed, a seahorse’s neck is well adapted for catching prey, reports Scientific American. Seahorses ambush their prey by hovering silently nearby, attached to plants or corals and often camouflaged to blend in with their surroundings. Suddenly, the seahorse will tilt its head and slurp in its prey. This movement results in a distinctive sound.

Unlike their relatives, the pipefish, seahorses can extend their heads forward, a process that is aided by their curving neck. Although they can’t swim as well as pipefish, The seahorse has the ability to stealthily reach out and strike their prey. This means that they can wait for prey to pass by their perch, rather than actively pursuing them—a task that is difficult given their very slow speed. The hunt for prey is also aided by the seahorse’s eyes, which have evolved to move independently, allowing them an easier search for prey.


The jewels of the ocean: Seahorses are one of the most fascinating marine creatures. However, these cousins to sea dragons face a terrifying fate that hardly anyone talks about. Bought as souvenirs, kept as an aquarium decor piece, or used in medicine, these marine creatures are in danger and they need immediate support from us.

These fantastic marine creatures are an endangered species, but are still caught, sun-dried, and grated. They have been declared as a protected species by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species in China, yet the stores are full of jars containing them as if they were normal products.

These marine animals are used in local medicine as being a powerful aphrodisiac. Thus, between shark fins, tiger bones, and starfish, seahorses have also become one of the ingredients for potions considered miraculous. It has already been long considered that the loss of habitat, pollution and acidification of the oceans have driven them to the extent of extinction.

Every year, Chinese medicine uses millions of specimens that are marketed to live in aquariums, medicine, and to serve as souvenirs. They are dried openly in the street, as if it is a normal thing and not a crime to be punished.

One of the most prosperous markets is that of Guangzhou to the north-west of Hong Kong, where in a way by no means scientifically proven, the poor seahorses are thought to have miraculous powers against impotence.

An obsolete practice that joins many others:
Like the tiger bones that used to treat arthritis and other common diseases like impotence.
Lion bones to make sweets, wines, and remedies as well.
Rhino horns which are believed to cure fever, seizures, and hallucinations.
These are just a few examples.

In short, useless and unsustainable traditions that do nothing but damage the natural system already severely tested by climate change and the loss of habitat caused by human “development.”
A real loss to the entire planet in the name of ancient ideas and lies, unfortunately life is still very little valued on planet Earth.


The male seahorse is equipped with a pouch on the ventral, or front-facing, side of the tail. When mating, the female seahorse deposits up to 1,500 eggs in the male’s pouch. The male carries the eggs for 9 to 45 days until the seahorses emerge fully developed, but very small.

What to expect when HE is expecting


Winged Hippocamp | Apulian red figure vase painting
Hippocampus (mythology)
The hippocampus (Greek: ἱππόκαμπος), often called a sea-horse in English, is a mythological creature shared by Phoenician,Etruscan, and Greek mythology, though its name has a Greek origin. The hippocampus has typically been depicted as having the upper body of a horse with the lower body of a fish.
Coins minted at Tyre around the 4th century BC show the patron god Melqart riding on a winged hippocampus and accompanied by dolphins.Coins of the same period from Byblos show a hippocampus diving under a galley.
A gold sea-horse was discovered in a hoard from the kingdom of Lydia in Asia minor, dating to the 6th century BC.
Greek and Roman
Hippocampus in Roman mosaic in the thermae at Aquae Sulis (Bath)
In the Iliad, Homer describes Poseidon, god of horses, earthquakes, and the sea, drawn by brazen-hoofed horses over the sea’s surface, and Apollonius of Rhodes, describes the horse of Poseidon emerging from the sea and galloping across the Libyan sands. This compares to the specifically “two-hoofed” hippocampi of Gaius Valerius Flaccus in his Argonautica: “Orion when grasping his father’s reins heaves the sea with the snorting of his two-hooved horses.” In Hellenistic and Roman imagery, however, Poseidon (or Roman Neptune) often drives a sea-chariot drawn by hippocampi. Thus hippocampi sport with this god in both ancient depictions and much more modern ones, such as in the waters of the 18th-century Trevi Fountain in Rome surveyed by Neptune from his niche above.
Tritons and winged hippocampi in the Trevi Fountain, Rome
Thus it was natural for a temple at Helike in the coastal plain of Achaea to be dedicated to the Poseidon of Helicon.When an earthquake suddenly submerged the city, the temple’s bronze Poseidon accompanied by hippocampi continued to snag fishermens’ nets. Likewise, the hippocampus was considered an appropriate decoration for mosaics in Roman public baths, as at Aquae Sulis modern day Bath in Britannia.
Poseidon’s horses, which were included in the elaborate sculptural program of gilt-bronze and ivory, added by a Roman client to the temple of Poseidon at Corinth, are likely to have been hippocampi; the Romanised Greek Pausanias described the rich ensemble in the later 2nd century AD.
On the temple, which is not very large, stand bronze Tritons. In the fore-temple are images, two of Poseidon, a third of Amphitrite, and a Sea, which also is of bronze. The offerings inside were dedicated in our time by Herodes Atticus, four horses, gilded except for the hoofs, which are of ivory, and two gold Tritons beside the horses, with the parts below the waist of ivory. On the car stand Amphitrite and Poseidon, and there is the boy Palaemon upright upon a dolphin. These too are made of ivory and gold. On the middle of the base on which the car has been wrought a Sea holding up the young Aphrodite, and on either side are the nymphs called Nereids.
The sea-horse also appears in Pictish stone carvings in Scotland. The symbolism of the carving (also known as “Pictish Beast”) is unknown. Although similar but not identical to Roman sea-horse images, it is unclear whether this depiction originates from images brought over by the Romans, or had a place in earlier Pictish mythology.
Medieval, Renaissance, and Modern
The “sea-horse” in medieval heraldry was a legendary creature that was part horse and part fish, not to be confused with the later heraldic hippocampus, which was a natural seahorse.
Hippocampuses in Dublin, Ireland.
The mythic hippocampus has been used as a heraldic charge, particularly since the Renaissance, most often in the armorial bearings of people and places with maritime associations. However, in a blazon, the terms hippocamp and hippocampus now refer to the real animal called a seahorse, and the terms seahorse and sea-horse refer to the mythological creature. The above-mentioned fish hybrids are seen less frequently.
The sea-horse is also a common image in Renaissance and post-renaissance art, for example, in the Trevi fountain, dating to 1732.
A winged hippocampus has been used as a symbol for Air France since its establishment in 1933 (inherited from its predecessor Air Orient); it appears today on the engine nacelles of Air France aircraft.
Bronze hippocampoi appear in Dublin, Ireland on lampposts next to a statue of Henry Grattan and on Grattan Bridge.

Did YOU know…

Yellow. Hippocampus guttulatus. Tossa de Mar – Girona (Spain).

Seahorses the jewels of the ocean in danger!

Seahorses are very fascinating and magical marine creatures. They have a head like a horse, a tail like a monkey, a head that moves independently, and skin color that can change like a chameleon. They are classified as fish and are cousins to pipefish and sea dragons, from the family Syngnathidae. All seahorses belong to the genus Hippocampus. They lack teeth, a stomach, and a caudal fin. In a seahorse’s life cycle, male is the one to give birth. Seahorses can reach a size of 20 cm (8 inches). The smallest seahorse is Hippocampus satomiae with a length of 13.8 mms (0.54 inches) and a height of 11.5 mms (0.45 inches). This pygmy species is found near Derawan Island off Kalimantan, Indonesia. We still do not how long seahorses live and most of their natural history remains mysterious.
Seahorses inhabit mainly tropical and temperate coastal waters. Their preferred habitats are coral reefs, mangroves, sea grass beds and estuaries. The majority of seahorse species are socially monogamous. The courtship behaviors are complex with partners displaying changes in color. They use long snout to absorb tiny shrimp, fish, and plankton. Seahorses protect themselves against predators by blending perfectly in their environment. Male can give birth to up several hundred young from one pregnancy. Overall, seahorses are characterized by a rapid growth rate, early age at maturity, high natural mortality, short generation time, and multiple spawnings per year.
The most endangered seahorse is the Cape seashore (Hippocampus capensis) endemic to South Africa. This species has a restricted and fragmented distribution, only known in a few estuaries. Its habitat is threatened by development and water pollution. Most seahorse species are poorly evaluated (data deficient) and their population trends and status are unknown. Eight species are classified as threatened (vulnerable or endangered).

Seashores have captured the imagination of humans where they are featured in the mythology, legends, folklore of many countries. Due to their unique appearance and biology, people in Asia have credited seahorses with magical powers. However, magnificent seashores are under threats and some species are rapidly declining such as the hedgehog seahorse or the flat-faced seahorse.
Threats to seahorses include:
Legal and illegal trade for ornamental display (sold dried as souvenirs), aquarium fishes, and traditional Chinese medicine. More than 20 millions of seahorses are estimated to be traded each year for Chinese medicine. Hundreds of thousands of seahorses are sold for the aquarium trade driven primarily by North American. Most of these seahorses are juveniles where they usually die within a short period.

By catch in the shrimp trawl and other fisheries off of Florida, Mexico, Central America, and South America.

Habitat degradation and destruction due to coastal development, marine pollution, coral reef destruction, and land-based deforestation. Deforestation leads to increased siltation in surrounding marine waters, thereby suffocating sea grass bed and killing coral reefs.

Take action!
Seahorses are an important part of the marine world and saving them is an imperative. They can serve as flagship species for a wide range of marine conservation issues.

You can make a difference by:-
Refusing to buy seahorse souvenirs and wild caught seashore for aquarium!
Supporting marine protected areas!
Reducing ocean pollution!


Interesting Facts About the Seahorse

These curious creatures are adapted to life in a unique fashion, with an interesting body shape that simply can’t be replicated in any other fish species. This division from the norm gives them a number of noteworthy traits.

A Horse Only in Appearance – Seahorses’ heads look like horses’ heads, and that is about where the similarities end. Horses are athletic, and well adapted to swift travel across land. Seahorses do not hold the same adaption in the sea, in fact they are very poor swimmers. Instead, they rely upon their prehensile tails to keep them from being swept away.

Baby Daddy – Seahorses are the only known animals in which the male carries the unborn offspring. The female deposits the fertilized eggs inside the male seahorse’s pouch, and the male fertilizes the eggs. The eggs remain in Dad’s pouch until they hatch, and he will give birth to fully formed, miniature seahorses.

Monogamous Men – Some species of seahorses are known to mate for life, or at least maintain the same mating pair throughout the entire breeding season. This trait is extremely rare in fish, and though not all seahorse species are monogamous, it is incredibly unique in the groups that engage in this breeding practice.

Within Striking Range – It is believed that seahorses’ unique head shape is essential in ambushing the tiny zooplankton they hunt. The seahorse hunts by slowly stalking its miniature prey, before quickly snapping its head to the side, and sucking it up.

Seahorses prefer shallow, protected waters. Seas with heavy currents or tides can sweep these tiny creatures away, so they tend to inhabit calm waters. Seahorses can frequently be found in seagrass beds, coral reefs, estuaries, and mangroves. They live in tropical and temperate oceans across the world.

Habitat of the Seahorse

There are 54 known species of seahorse, and these species can be found across the world. In the Pacific Ocean, they can be found from the coast of the North America, to the coast of South America. In the Atlantic Ocean, they can be found from the coast of Canada, to South America. Some species have been found off the coasts of Europe, and in the Mediterranean Sea.

Diet of the Seahorse

Seahorses hunt small crustaceans, and mysid shrimp are their most common prey. They have also been known to eat small invertebrates and fish larvae. They employ a hunting method called pivot feeding, in which they creep up on prey and quickly turn their heads to suck them up.

Seahorse and Human Interaction

Humans pose a direct threat to seahorse survival, and we lack the research to determine accurate rates of population decline. These sea animals are frequently victims of bycatch from other fishing industries. They are also being directly impacted by the loss of seagrasses and corals, caused by pollution and ocean acidification.

Seahorses are also wild-caught for hobby aquarists, despite their low survivability. Captive-bred individuals are much more likely to survive than those stressed by capture and transport. These fish are also frequently captured for use in traditional Chinese medicine.

Seahorses have not been domesticated, but some species have been successfully bred in aquariums.

Seahorse Care

Seahorses are particularly difficult to care for, and can become sick or die when exposed to slight variations from their natural environment. They need specific temperature, water flow, salinity, light, pH, ammonia, and nitrite levels to survive.

Behaviour of the Seahorse

Seahorses bred in aquariums can make good pets, but only to the experienced aquarist. Maintaining a saltwater aquarium is costly and time consuming. They cannot be handled in any way, and are strictly decorative as a pet.

Seahorses spend much of their time hunting. They cruise slowly through the water searching for small crustaceans, employing built-in camouflage. They can change color readily, which is useful for blending in with their environment. They also change color while searching for a mate. During the breeding season, seahorses perform courtship dances to find suitable partners.

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