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Kidadl Team

AUGUST 06, 2021

Pacific Seahorse: 15 Facts You Won't Believe!

Pacific seahorse facts are very interesting because of its appearance.

A Pacific seahorse is endemic to the eastern Pacific coast, extending from San Diego and California to Peru. The range of this seahorse also includes the Galapagos Islands and the coasts of Columbia, Costa Rica, Mexico, and Panama. They are the largest amongst the other 56 species of seahorses present in the world. They are most suited to a subtidal habitat, having a life span of three to five years. They do not stick to a single mate in one life and are polygamous. The females are slightly larger than males, exhibiting sexual dimorphism. After reproduction, the offspring hardly need parental care and are ready to give birth to their own young ones after eight to nine months.

Both genders lack stomachs and have a bony coronet on their head and tail which helps them to camouflage. The prehensile tail of the seahorse is typically bony and elongated, helping them to curl around seagrasses and black reefs. In the wild, this creature feeds upon brine shrimp, phytoplankton, crustaceans, and zooplankton in the waters of California.  They exhibit quiet behavior making them ideal to be kept as pets in a fish zoo or an aquarium. Research shows that some of the young of this species swim up the coast of California and the Galapagos Islands and live there.

The IUCN lists this species as Vulnerable. Several research programs have proved that overfishing, habitat loss, and pollution are responsible for the loss in number.  

If you like what you read, do check out channel catfish and freshwater drum.

Pacific Seahorse Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a Pacific seahorse?

A Pacific seahorse is a kind of fish that comes under the family Syngnathidae.

What class of animal does a Pacific seahorse belong to?

A Pacific or giant seahorse belongs to the class of fishes.

How many Pacific seahorses are there in the world?

Although the exact number of Pacific seahorse (Hippocampus ingens) is not known, its population seems to be decreasing. The IUCN lists it as a Vulnerable species.

Where does a Pacific seahorse live?

Pacific seahorses, also known as giant seahorses, are found along the eastern coast of the Pacific Ocean, extending from San Diego, California to Peru. Pacific seahorses are also found in the Galapagos Islands. These giant seahorses are also found along the coastline of Peru, Mexico, Columbia, Salvador, Panama, and Costa Rica.

What is a Pacific seahorse's habitat?

Found up to a depth of 200 ft (60m), these giant seahorses are mostly found living in subtidal seagrass, well-guarded bays, sea, and reefs. In the wild, this animal entangles its tail around sea whips, black corals, and seagrasses to camouflage itself from predators. Predators of these seahorses prefer a coastal habitat comprising eelgrasses and kelp. The main habitats of the Pacific seahorse (Hippocampus ingens) include mangrove habitats, pebbly reefs, meadows, and sponges.

Who does a Pacific seahorse live with?

A Pacific seahorse prefers living unaccompanied, although at times it is found with members of its breed.

How long does a Pacific seahorse live?

A Pacific seahorse (Hippocampus ingens) has an average life span typically ranging between three to five years.

How do they reproduce?

A Pacific seahorse (Hippocampus ingens) becomes sexually active for reproduction at around the age of eight to 10 months.  Although the male of this species can brood up to 2000 eggs, a male seahorse broods approximately 60-400 eggs. It can brood various times in a single breeding season and the breeding season typically lies between late September to early May. Usually, the seahorse looks for a mate and interacts for around eight to nine long months, following which the process of mating and reproduction begins. The females lay eggs and store them in the brood pouch of males with the help of the ovipositor. The eggs remain sealed inside the brood pouch to be eventually fertilized by the males. As the embryos develop, the salinity of the fluid inside the pouch changes to attune the fertilized embryo to the adjoining seawater.

The gestation phase usually lasts for 14 days, and as this period ends the males are supposed to push the baby out of its brood pouch, thus giving birth. Young seahorses do not require much parental attention as they become fully independent and sufficient quickly. After birth, the young ones have a length of 0.236-0.276 in (0.6-0.7 cm). In an aquarium, the females develop a black patch beneath their anal fin, suggesting that they have attained sexual maturity and are capable to give birth.

What is their conservation status?

Pacific seahorses (Hippocampus ingens) have been listed by the IUCN Red List as Vulnerable. Degradation of natural habitat, overfishing, pollution, and climate change are the major threats behind a decrease in the number. Their numbers are declining near the Pacific coast of California and Peru.

Pacific Seahorse Fun Facts

What do Pacific seahorses look like?

The population of Pacific seahorses exhibit various types of colors. It can camouflage and change its body color to suit its present surroundings. This is a technique adopted by the giant seahorse to protect itself from predators. They are mostly yellow, gray, maroon, and greenish-brown in color and have traces of white patches running throughout its body length. They have a digestive tract devoid of a stomach and lack teeth like all other species of seahorses present in the world. Its eyes can independently roll around. The neck is placed at a right angle to the rest of the body and its head is adorned with a structure called the coroner. Its bony face marks a snout too. The coronet is made out of bones and its spinal cord is made up of bones and plated rings. This trait is different to other vertebrates and is responsible for the prehensile tail of the seahorse. It uses its prehensile tail to curl around seagrasses and kelps during camouflaging to safeguard itself from predators.

This species depicts sexual dimorphism, as female seahorses have a longer body length than the males. The females also have a dark spot beneath their anal fin while the males have a brood pouch keel on their chest.

A giant seahorse is cute to look at.

How cute are they?

The head of this species of seahorse is crowned with a bony formation called the coroner and its neck is placed at a right angle. It can change its color depending on its situation and surroundings. All these features, along with its snout and vibrant colors, make the giant sea horse look cute.

How do they communicate?

They are quiet and love to stay alone. They tend to become slightly active only when in search of food. As a method of safeguarding itself against its predators, populations of seahorses stay entwined to eelgrass and other marine plants with the help of their tails. Their tails are built to help them coil around seagrasses to stay safe from the attack of enemies. They possess strong olfactory nerves to help them determine the presence of chemicals present in the marine water and a steady vision for sensing and trapping their prey. Seahorses are also capable of understanding a click sound while finding a mating partner. Pacific seahorse adaptations include entangling with black corals and changing their color depending on their surroundings.

How big is a Pacific seahorse?

There are almost 56 species of seahorses and the Pacific seahorse (Hippocampus ingens) is the largest amongst them all. Its length is 11.8 in (30cm) and height is 4.7-7.5 in (12-19 cm).

How fast can a Pacific seahorse move?

The speed of a seahorse is 35 flutters per second.

How much does a Pacific seahorse weigh?

A  Pacific seahorse weighs around 0.43-1 lb (195-453.6 g).

What are the male and female names of the species?

A male and a female Pacific seahorse are not given any particular names.

What would you call a baby Pacific seahorse?

A baby Pacific seahorse is called a fry.

What do they eat?

The largest amongst all other seahorses in the world, they feed upon plankton, microorganism, crustaceans, brine shrimp, and mysids as their food.  It is usually a slow eater and doesn't need to roam much in search of food. Its food is mostly found within its natural habitat. They lack teeth and swallows a small amount of food with their snout. Young seahorses consume only planktons.

Are they poisonous?

No, Pacific seahorses aren't poisonous. They are used to prepare Chinese medicines and common in the aquarium trade. Medicines made out of dried seahorses are used to cure impotency wheezing. Seahorses also serve as painkillers.

Would they make a good pet?

Seahorses are common in the aquarium trade. When they are well-bred in proper conditions and well maintained they can be used for trading and business. The seahorse reproduces in ample amounts and so they can be kept as pets in zoos or the aquarium. Their behavior is quite docile which adds to their ability to have tankmates.

Did you know...

Pacific seahorses are endothermic.

They are nocturnal fishes.

They trap and suck their prey with the help of their snout.

Birch Aquarium in San Diego, CA, and the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, CA are famous for the huge populations of giant pacific seahorse.

Why is the Pacific seahorse also known as a giant seahorse?

This seahorse has these names because it is the largest amongst the other 56 species of seahorses. It has an average length of 11.8 in (30cm). They are larger than the lined seahorse.

How many different types of seahorses exist?

There are 47 species of sea horses that have been discovered to date.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other fish from our guppy facts and tangfish facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable Pacific seahorse coloring pages.

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