Seahorse

Tiny Dwarf Seahorses Born at the Tennessee Aquarium

Baby Dwarf Seahorse and Dad

A few very tiny baby seahorses were born last month at the Tennessee Aquarium

 

The Dwarf Seahorse (Hippocampus zosterae) is among the smallest seahorse species, with adults growing to only one inch in length.
 
Connie Arthur, the Aquarium’s seahorse keeper, had been observing a few males who seemed to be pregnant.

On Thursday morning when she arrived at the Aquarium, the tiny babies - each one about the size of a grain of rice - were swimming in the tank.
 
“It’s not uncommon for us to find babies in any of our seahorse tanks,” Arthur said.

“But the Dwarf Seahorses are especially tiny so I keep a sharp eye out for them.”
 
Luckily, according to Arthur, these babies (as tiny as they are) are one of the easiest species to raise.

The babies instantly use their prehensile tail to grab onto whatever they can and will start eating newly hatched brine shrimp right away.
 
The birth of these itty bitty babies came just in time for Father’s Day, since seahorse males are actually the ones that give birth.


Rarely-Seen Pygmy Sea Horses Hatch at Steinhart Aquarium

Seahorse-BBC_8134With their tiny tails wrapped around pieces of coral, a group of baby Bargibat’s Pygmy Sea Horses at the Steinhart Aquarium are among the first of this species to be hatched and cared for in an aquarium. 

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Photo Credit:  Richard Ross

Less than an inch long, Bargibat’s Pygmy Sea Horses spend their entire adult lives attached to a species of coral known as a sea fan (Murciella paraplectana).  The sea fan is the reason that these fish are rarely found in captivity – the conditions for maintaining the coral in an aquarium are challenging, because it only feeds on plankton.  The color and texture of the adult Pygmy Sea Horses matches those of the sea fan so closely that the Pygmy Sea Horses are nearly impossible to see.  Babies begin life with more drab coloration.

Biologists Richard Ross and Matt Wandell, who care for and study the Pygmy Sea Horses, have observed the adults engaging in a mating ritual that involves rubbing snouts and bumping heads.  The female lays her eggs in the male’s belly sac.  He then fertilizes and incubates the eggs for 14 days.  About 60 to 70 babies result from each breeding cycle.

There are eight known species of Pygmy Sea Horses.  They are found in the Pacific Ocean near Australia, the Phillippines, and nearby islands. 

See more phtos of these aquatic wonders below.

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Tiny Sea Horses Dazzle at Zoo Basel

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Dozens of tiny Pot-bellied Sea Horses cling to underwater plants at Switzerland's Zoo Basel.  These itty-bitty babies, native to the coastal waters of Australia, will grow to about 13 inches long as adults.

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Photo Credit:  Zoo Basel

Like all Sea Horses, females of this species lay their eggs into a brood patch on the males.  The males then carry the eggs for about a month, and the babies hatch and swim off on thier own.  Hundreds of baby Pot-Bellied Sea Horses may hatch at one time, a strategy that ensures that at least a few of these vulnerable babies will grow into adulthood.



Tiny Seahorses Hatch at Georgia Aquarium

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Check out these Big-belly Seahorse fry that hatched at the Georgia Aquarium!  

Seahorses are one of very few species where the male 'gives birth'. The female will deposit her eggs in a brood pouch located on her mate's belly, where he fertilizes them internally and carries them until they hatch. A single male may carry hundreds of eggs in his pouch.

When the fry hatch, they must gulp at air bubbles to fill up their swim bladder, an organ that allows them to control their buoyancy. Sometimes they gulp in a bit too much air. When this happens, they may float at the surface and be unable to feed. To help prevent 'floaters', these little guys live in a specially designed tank called a kreisel, which keeps water circulating gently so that they won't remain stuck at the surface. Aquarists also carefully string fishing line in the tank that the seahorses can grab onto with their prehensile tails. In their early days, the fry are fed tiny, live brine shrimp that are hatched at the aquarium.

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4 seahorsePhoto credit: Georgia Aquarium

The system that houses the seahorse fry can be seen during the Aquarium's behind-the-scenes tours. Georgia Aquarium breeds Big-belly Seahorses as ambassadors for their threatened habitats, coral reefs and seagrass beds, which are important marine ecosystems. This breeding effort allows the aquarium to display seahorses without taking them from the ocean, and also to donate seahorses to other aquariums. 

See the aquarium's blog post for more. 


A Great Year for Seahorses at Allwetterzoo Münster

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Allwetterzoo Münster has had a very successful crop of Long-snouted Seahorses this summer. About 400 juveniles have been born since May—from just eight parental pairs! Due to the breeding success, the aquarium is almost out of space behind-the-scenes. But not to worry: the seahorses will find homes at other zoos and aquaria, once they're old enough. The little ones will grow to be about 9 inches (23 cm) in length as adults.

Seahorses are unusual among fish because mate pairs stay together for a whole breeding season, and sometimes even for life.  The male and the female each keep a small territory, and the female visits her mate in his territory every day for a 'daily greeting' that strengthens their bond. Even more unexpected, it is the male who incubates and gives birth to the young. The female uses a long tube called an ovipositor to lay her eggs in the brood pouch of her partner. He incubates them for about three weeks—the female stills comes to visit every day—and when they are ready, he releases the hatchlings into the water. The hatchlings are independent as soon as they are born, but sometimes they may cling to their father for a while for safety. This Atlantic species is typically found along the European coast, from the UK through the Mediterranean and Black Seas.

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The mini-seahorses are fed twice daily with tiny brine shrimp and copepods. During feeding times the aquarium pumps must be turned off, because it would suck in the tiny food. Once the young animals eaten enough, the pumps are turned back on, providing the necessary oxygen supply and flushing the tanks clean. Raising the all those seahorse fry is time consuming, but District Director Anke Gassner and her team are proud of the breeding success.


Rare Footage of a Papa Seahorse Giving Birth!

The Tennessee Aquarium's seahorse gallery is a busy nursery but actual footage of seahorses being born is still rare. Lucky for us Carol Haley, the Aquarium's Assistant Curator of Fishes, caught this amazing video of Lined Seahorses being shot-outta-Pop (that is not the technical term). Many people are surprised to learn that it's the father, not the mother, seahorse that gives live birth to the young.  In the video, you’ll notice the babies racing away from dad towards the surface. There’s a reason for that according to aquarist Elaine Robinson. “When they are born, Hippocampus erectus fry swim quickly to the surface of the water to gulp air for the primary phase of swim bladder inflation,” said Robinson.  “Lined seahorses tend to be pelagic, drifting near the surface of the water, in search of their prey.” 

In the pictures below, a toothbrush has been inserted for size reference Baby seahorses at Tennessee Aquarium 3

Baby seahorses at Tennessee Aquarium 3Photo credits: Thom Benson / Tennessee Aquarium

Aquarists quickly remove the babies to care for them in backup areas until they are strong enough to be placed on exhibit or shared with other AZA (Association of Zoos and Aquariums) accredited institutions.

See and learn more below the fold

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Baby Sea Dragons at Georgia Aquarium!

The Georgia Aquarium recently introduced three Sea Dragon babies to its display in the Georgia-Pacific Cold Water Quest gallery. The Georgia Aquarium is the third facility in the United States to successfully hatch Weedy Sea Dragons. An interesting fact about the Weedy Sea Dragon is that it is the male of the species that “gives birth.” The female lays up to 250 to 300 eggs onto the soft underside of the male's tail. The eggs are embedded into the skin in cup-like structures that harden and form around each egg to hold and protect them during brooding. After about two months, the bright pink eggs hatch into miniature juveniles, which settle into the vegetation.

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Dad is protecting his little ones [below]

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Photo credits: Georgia Aquarium

 

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The Secret Lives of (Baby) Seahorses

Yesterday the Monterey Bay Aquarium unveiled its newest exhibit, The Secret Lives of Seahorses, showcasing 15 species of seahorses, sea dragons, pipehorses and pipefish. Seahorses are unique in the animal kingdom because the male becomes pregnant and gives birth. The tiny babies stay close to their protective father by clinging to nearby plants with their strong tails.

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Dwarf Seahorses © Monterey Bay Aquarium

If you live anywhere in the United States, Western Hemisphere or planet earth, we strongly recommend you make the trip to the Monterey Bay Aquarium to see these extraordinary creatures. In lieu of that, enjoy this webcast or at least watch the cool video below.