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There are 35 species of the strange-looking sea horse. Their habitat includes the waters around Australia, Europe, Africa, and North America.
Sea horses have a large head with a tube-like snout, a neck that moves, a round body, and a long, slender, tapered tail. The eyes of the sea horse move independently of one another and swivel, constantly looking for food.
The neck, body, and tail of the sea horse are marked with circular and lengthwise ridges which look like bony bumps. Seahorses have a small pectoral fin and a single small dorsal fin that they use to hover in the water.
The colors of the sea horse can be varied but most are light brown to medium brown with scattered white spots. The sea horse can adopt the color of the surrounding weeds to camouflage itself.
Sea horses live in shallow water among seaweed. They swim in a vertical position and often wrap their tail around a piece of sea vegetation to keep from being swept away.
The sea horse will eat any kind of swimming animal that is small enough to be sucked into its mouth. It feeds mostly on tiny plankton, small fish, and other crustaceans. They need to eat almost constantly in order to survive.
The female sea horse deposits her eggs into a pouch on the male’s abdomen where they are fertilized and nourished until they hatch in approximately four to five weeks. When they hatch, they are about 1/2 inch (1.3 cm) long and look like miniature adults. In the span of two months they will have grown to 2-1/2 inches (6.4 cm) long.
The sea horse has few predators because it is mostly made up of bone. Crabs don’t seem to mind, however, and are the main enemy. The sea horse is a popular addition to aquariums but is difficult to keep alive because of its constant need for food.
Gasterosteiformes • Syngnathidae
Length: 1 to 14 inches (3 cm–36 cm)
Special Design Feature: The eyes of the sea horse move independently of one another. In other words, each eye swivels around to watch for prey.
Did You Know? The male sea horse carries the eggs in a pouch until they hatch.