Scientific Classification

Common Name
Genus Species
Hippocampus spp.

Fast Facts

Seahorses are elongate with rigid body armor and swim upright. Pectoral fins on the sides and a small dorsal fin on the back of a seahorse's body wave rapidly to move the seahorse through the water. They feed using small mouths at the end of tubular snouts.
The various species range in size from about 5 to 36 cm (2 to 14 in.) in length.
Plankton and fish larvae
Ovoviviparous ("egg live birth"). Incubation may last 2 to 6 weeks, depending on the species. After the embryos have developed, the male gives birth to tiny seahorses, some as small as 1 cm (0.4 in.) long.
Spawn Size: A female seahorse deposits 100 or more eggs into a pouch on the male's abdomen. The male releases sperm into the pouch, fertilizing the eggs. The embryos develop within the male's pouch, nourished by their individual yolk sacs.
Seahorses are found in temperate and tropical waters. The longsnout seahorse (Hippocampus reidi) and the Northern seahorse (Hippocampus erectus) live in the Caribbean region of the Western Atlantic. The common seahorse (Hippocampus guttulatus) lives in the Mediterranean Sea and warm areas of the Atlantic. The yellow seahorse (Hippocampus kuda) lives in the Indo-Pacific. The Pacific seahorse (Hippocampus ingens) is the only seahorse on the eastern Pacific coast, ranging from California to Peru.
Typically found in shallow waters with abundant vegetation
Global: No data
IUCN: Several species listed as Vulnerable or Data Deficient; 1 species listed as Endangered
CITES: Several species listed as Appendix II
USFWS: Not listed

Fun Facts

  1. A seahorse is a type of fish closely related to pipefishes and belonging to the scientific family Syngnathidae. Roughly 35 species of seahorse occur worldwide. 
  2. The seahorse's scientific genus name, Hippocampus, is Greek for "bent horse."
  3. The seahorse may appear as if it wears armor; its body is covered with bony rings and ridges.
  4. Seahorses are well camouflaged among the relatively tall eelgrasses and seaweeds in which they make their homes. A seahorse often moors itself in the water by curling its prehensile tail around seagrass and coral branches.
  5. The seahorse's small mouth, located at the end of its tube-like snout, sucks up tiny plankton and fish larvae.
  6. For more information about bony fishes, explore the Bony Fishes InfoBook.

Ecology and Conservation

No data


Andrews, A., Parham, D. and W. Street. Bony Fishes. SeaWorld Education Department Publication. San Diego, SeaWorld, Inc. 1995.

Burgess, W. and H.R. Axelrod. Pacific Marine Fishes. Books 1,6, & 8. Neptune City, NJ. T.F.H. Publications, Inc. Ltd. 1971, 1975, 1984.

Eschmeyer, W.N., Herald, E.S. and H. Hammann. Peterson Field Guide to Pacific Coast Fishes. New York. Houghton Mifflin Co. 1983.