“ Animal Species: Fish „
Having an extremely small life span of perhaps 1-5 years depending on the species, this most graceful and intriguing creature of our seas breaks one of the golden rules of biology. The male, rather than the female is left holding the baby! It is the male, and him alone, who looks after the fertilised eggs via a special brood sac on the front of his abdomen, much like a miniature kangaroo if you please.
With a preferred habitat of coastal areas ranging from Australia to the Caribbean, they prefer the beds and coral reefs where they can easily hide themselves away from their predators.
These most beautifully coloured and odd looking fish also have no teeth or stomachs, therefore, have to suck their food in like some ravenous old lady who has lost her dentures in a game of cards. They swiftly ambush their prey, chasing it around until caught and then suck in as fast as possible, swallowing their catch whole.
Now, I have a couple of these glorious seahorses in my aquarium. It is advisable to have a captive bred one for this purpose because they will accept frozen food such as shrimp, and are not shocked or stressed at being taken out of their natural habitat and placed in an aquarium, unlike their 'wild' counterparts who will only eat live food and would be prone to stress and worry which would, in turn, lower their immune system exposing them to all manner of diseases.
It is absolutely fascinating to watch the movements of these graceful and awe inspiring fish as they propel their way through the water using their small dorsal fins, flapping them almost as fast as a humming bird would flap its own wings, which helps them to move backwards and forwards, keeping them upright too. Their pectoral fins are used to control their steering and turning, and watching this amazing creature combine both the dorsal and pectoral fins to manoeuvre its way around is truly incredible and breathtaking.
Seahorses can vary in size from the dwarf species that are only about an inch and a half long, to the giant seahorse species which can reach a very impressive length of almost fourteen inches.
A few years ago I had both a male and female in my aquarium. Being totally monogamous, they only had eyes for each other and were virtually inseparable. They could be seen majestically gliding through the water together, curling their tails around each other like some love sick teenager clasping his girlfriends hand. They would often come together, dancing and twirling in unison with their tails inseparably linked, like some bizarre underwater Opera.
Sadly, a few weeks later my male seahorse died and less than a day later the female died. I suspect this was of a broken heart as they had paired for life and I suppose she couldn't go on without him. It was heartbreaking to watch this almost human-like of emotions going on in such a small watery world.
Since then I have acquired more seahorses to adorn my aquarium and find it fascinating to observe them closely. For instance, they can change their colouring much like a chameleon does in order to camouflage itself into the surroundings of the tank.
I have also noticed that when they are at rest they will curl their elegant tails around some seaweed or log, I presume this is done in order for them not to float away during their down time.
I have also observed, bizarrely enough, that they tend to 'make love' during a full moon. How romantic is that!! During this period the male seahorse will offer his pouch to the female. This 'offering' can go on for hours until eventually, the female will dock herself to the opening of the pouch and place her eggs in there. The male will then sway back and forth as if to distribute the eggs evenly, and perhaps to show off that he is now pregnant!!
On closer inspection of these wonderful creations it can be seen that they have heads that are horse-like, independently swivelling eyes similar to that of a chameleon, a prehensile tail like that of a monkey and have a pouch like a kangaroo. Four animals for the price of one!
Some called them insects, others called them shellfish, I call them astounding!
I am writing this review about sea horses living in their natural environment. They are amazing and unique creatures and it is very difficult to provide the right conditions for them in captivity.
There are over 35 different types of seahorses all over the world and they are mostly found in warm shallow water. The Scientific name for them is 'Hippocampus' in Greek this apparently means 'bent horse.'
They range in size from 15 millimetres to 35 centimetres and are the only fish where the male becomes pregnant, the female lays her eggs on the underside of the male and two flaps develop from the male and protect the eggs. Once the eggs hatch the babies swim out therefore the male has given birth.
They have a head like a horse and a long body tapering down to a curling tail with rectangular bony plates very much like tiles. They can change their colour to blend in with their surroundings and some are completely transparent.
They feed on shrimps and small crustaceans by using their snout to suck very much like a vacuum cleaner.
Their long tail is very handy for them because they can curl it around sea grass to avoid being swept away by strong currents.
These beautiful creatures are sadly being threatened due to over fishing.
They are being used for traditional Asian medicine markets in China, Korea and Japan and they are also used as good luck charms to ward off evil spirits.
The pet trade is a great threat to these unique quirky fish they are in high demand but so difficult to look after in a tank because they need the correct food and the right temperature and depth of water so sadly the survival rate is very bleak for them.
Souvenir trade is also barbaric, these dancing fish of the sea have a tiled body like an armour and when caught alive they can be left to dry out and will stay in tact. Next time you are on holiday and see shells for sale watch out for the seahorses these were once living creatures. I have actually seen them made into pendants with the ring put through their eye believe it or not.
The seahorse is a beautiful graceful fish and should be left to enjoy its life in the seas and oceans of our world if anybody wants to enjoy watching them then maybe they should sit down to a good documentary on the television or take up scuba diving.
I absolutly adore seahorses. They are so romantic and calming to watch. We visited a sealife centre and I stood and watched these lovely creatures for ages. The story of seahorses; Why can't we be like seahorses, they find ther ideal mate and stay with them for life, definatly unlike us. They dance around the sea with their tales linked and sleep this way at all times. How lovely is that? The best part about them is that the male is the one who is pregnant. Well when I read this I decided that I must come back as a sea horse in my next life. Or marry one now!!!! Imagine that a man who stays with you, devoted to you, is not intereseted in the younger version who just swam past him. You grow old together. And to top it off he is the one who actually has to carry the babies and give birth to them. (sorry I am not sure whether they lay eggs or give birth. I am not that well clued up about them) Then the whole family dance about the sea. No sibling rivalry, no arguing just a happy little family. I would not dream of keeping them at home in a tank though, I think that it is wicked. I know you are reading this thinking what a soppy, silly cow. Oh well, it makes me happy Bye.
Firstly, I must warn you that seahorse keeping should not be tackled by the casual aquarist, because seahorses usually die quickly in captivity. The following notes are intended for more experienced animal lover. Think about whether you can realistically hope to care for these fish, before you buy them, and if you have any doubts, choose something easier !  New Seahorses: Choose your seahorses with great care, if they have grey tinges or signs of fungus or unhealthy looking skin, do not buy them. It is difficult if not impossible to treat most seahorse illnesses. Seahorses in good condition have rounded bodies, if the body is sunken and concave it is probably best not to buy the animal, as it has obviously not been properly cared for and will almost certainly get seriously ill and possibly die. Seahorses are also very vulnerable to bacterial infections, so place new seahorses in a separate tank from any other fish which has been treated with a antibiotic. To get the seahorses used to their new environment, the unopened plastic bag in which you bought them should be placed in the aquarium for about half an hour to allow water temperatures to equalize. Then gradually, over the next hour, add aquarium water to the bag. Once the bag is more than half full of aquarium water, you can risk adding the seahorse to the tank. To encourage a seahorse to release something it is holding on to, move it gently, and if that fails, then tickle its tail. As a last resort, try to uncurl the tall gently from the perch. Never use force to get a seahorse to release it's tail as you can do a lot of damage to its tail. Just wait for a moment and try again.  Aquarium Information: Seahorses are upright fishes and are not suited to shallow waters of less than forty five centimetre, also they are unlikely to mate in shallow water because they rise as they copulate. However, they often move across the tank bott
om so give them as much space as possible. You should not keep many seahorses together, as they do not live in groups in the wild and they are prone to spreading diseases and ailments amongst themselves. Try to keep no more than four seahorses in a hundred litre aquarium and try not to keep any seahorses in anything much smaller than this. An ultraviolet sterilizer is on of them most important things in to have, because of seahorses vulnerability to bacterial infections. Water quality is all-important for maintaining seahorse health.  Aquarium Settings: Seahorses require many perches, or holdfasts, as they become stressed if they cannot hold onto something with their tails. The best holdfasts are natural surfaces such as plants, but soft plastic plants are excellent substitutes, and should be quite tall and have many branching parts. It is also important to provide a reasonably complex environment so the seahorses can escape into hidden corners, they also become stressed if they are too exposed. It is also a good idea to have a tank backing to give them a reference point and to help them orientate, we don't want them getting lost after all. I mean we've all thought where did I leave my seahorse ?  Companions: It's very important not to put seahorses in an aquarium with fast, agile fishes or with aggressive feeders. Try and keep them in their own tanks, as faster fish scare them, and larger fish are known to attack them.  Lighting: Seahorses interact most in the hours just after dawn. I suggest, therefore, that you keep seahorses on three hours half-light, ten hours light, three hours half-light, eight hours dark. The half-light can be produced by a lamp some distance from the aquarium.  Feeding Adults: Seahorses eat a great deal but are rather particular, and feeding seahorses is one of the most difficult aspects of keeping them in captivity. Seahorses us
ually eat only live, fresh food. They need food variety and cannot be fed solely on on food source, as this will provide a highly unbalanced diet. With patience and effort, you may convince seahorses to eat some frozen foodstuff and these can be a good backup when fresh food runs out or is rejected. However, you must not rely solely on frozen foodstuffs as this alone will eventually result in malnutrition and illness.  Health: Seahorse are vulnerable to many fungal, bacterial and parasitic ailments and infestations and few seahorses will ever recover from a serious illness. Seahorses should be inspected every day for changes in their health and any ailment treated immediately; one seahorse's illness usually hits all seahorses in the tank very quickly. Any ill seahorse should be isolated at once. If in doubt, risk treating them with an antibiotic. Buoyancy problems are fairly specific to seahorses, and any seahorse staying constantly near the surface is almost certainly an ill seahorse. You should react at once as buoyancy problems are serious and often fatal. Again, prevention is better than cure. A range of the symptoms are the following: 1.) A grossly distended body - by then, the problem is far advanced (c) 2.) Inflated pouch not due to pregnancy - avoid wishful thinking if the animal hasn't been near a female (a) 3.) A constant head down position when swimming (a, b, c) 4.) The tail curled well back and up behind the trunk (b) 5.) Small bumps on body surface (b) 6.) Tightly curled position (when trying to descend), held for an unusually long period with little progress (a, b, c) 7.) Immediately bobbing to surface after release from holdfast (a, c) 8.) Lying nearly horizontally at water surface, even if the tail is holding something (a, c) The letter(s) in brackets refers to possible causes and solutions below. (a) Air trapped in the pouc
h (males). You can try the following to release the air. Do not lift the animal out of the water. Keep the seahorse underwater and massage the pouch gently, holding the head upwards so the air can escape. Stretch the pouch between your thumb and forefinger. Manipulate gently and insert a hollow, blunt small-bore object (e.g. plastic tubing). Exert gentle pressure on the pouch. The gas may escape via the tube. Move the tube gently around if needed. You may need to suck on tube as you massage the pouch (horrible to do, I know !). Ensure that you get the air out. Then monitor that animal carefully as buoyancy problems tend to reoccur in the same animals. This problem is especially prevalent around courtship periods and occurs if males dilate the pouch opening in air streams. (b) Air trapped under the skin is a more acute problem. Use a sterile syringe needle (with a tiny diameter), slip it gently (at an angle) under the skin to pierce a small hole. Remove the needle and then massage the bubbles out while the animal is under water. Pierce all the bubbles you can see because they are usually interconnected and missing once causes a repeat performance. Keep the animal in a very clean tank after puncturing the skin. (c) Air trapped internally is very serious and generally results in death. I am unable to suggest anything useful to do in this case. Try to detect this condition early on as it only worsens, and seahorses appear to have no solutions of their own and become very stressed by such buoyancy problems. Seahorses in this condition have massively bloated bodies and get several related problems such as sores, skin cracks, frayed and tattered tails, bony plate separation and internal injuries. Seahorses may also suffer a wide range of illnesses and skin problems. Wounds are not common in seahorses as they are very passive fishes. If something does happen, try to leave the wound alone. Many things solve themselves if left alone in a clean tank.
Otherwise treat according to a good manual. Dilute iodine on seahorse wounds however appears to cause more trouble than it solves. Finally, please be realistic about your chances of curing an ill seahorse. If a seahorse is deteriorating rapidly or suffering evidently, please do not insist that the animal dies slowly, and perhaps painfully. It is far better to make the decision and kill the animal quickly. If you can't do that, you should not be keeping seahorses. As you can see, keeping seahorses is for the more skilled and experienced and that my overview has helped a little, and I suggest that unless you have plently of experience under your belt, (you may have to perform micro-surgery !) you stick to fish ! Hope this helps a little with your seahorse care, and gives you a little idea what goes into looking after them, and I haven't even touched on baby seahorse, mating problems, or their dietry needs !
Well what can I say just about every fishkeeper in the world loves seahorses. And if your thinking about keeping them heres a few tips from my own personal experience. Seahorses like tall, calm tanks. By this I mean a tank that is at least 18" or so high, with as slow a water flow as possible. Seahorses being poor swimmers, like to 'anchor' themselves to coral branches, but in my experience they'll pretty much anchor themselves to anything they can fit their little tails around, including filter uptakes, so be careful. Also if you decide to add a few marine fish to the tank, make sure they're peaceful fish, generally gobies make good tank mates. Seahorse are renowned as being very fussy eaters, prefering only live food. This is and is not true in my experience. At first I think it is best to feed them on live foods (most pet shops can provide you with suitable brine shrimp/Mysis) until they settle down for the first week or so. Then start to move them onto frozen food. This takes a lot of time and patience on your part, because at first you will have to hand feed the seahorses until they get used to eating the frozen food. This basically involves you waving a dead shrimp frantically under the seahorses nose until it catches on and eats it. And yes you will get annoyed with them. But they are definately worth it, and provided you keep them on a varied diet, Brineshrimp/Mysis/daphnia (and you can get a supplement to add to these foods to improve their quality) you might even have the pleasure of seeing them mating.