Dwarf Seahorses Born at Brookfield Zoo

Since mid-September, there has been a baby boom of dwarf seahorses born at Brookfield Zoo’s Living Coast. Nearly 30 seahorse fry (name for baby fish) have been born, including nine on November 14. One of the animal care specialists, who cares for them, was at the right place at the right time and was able to capture the amazing moment on his cell phone. The video can be seen on the zoo’s social media channels.

The dwarf seahorse is one of the smallest species of seahorse, measuring about a ¼ inch at birth and up to 2 inches when full grown. To provide the best chance of survivability, the seahorses born at Brookfield Zoo are being reared by staff behind the scenes. However, several adult seahorses can be seen in their habitat at the Living Coast.

The seahorse and its close relative, the sea dragon, are the only animals that have a true reversed pregnancy in which the male gives birth to the fry. A female seahorse transfers her eggs to the male, where they are fertilized in his brood pouch. There, the developing seahorses are provided oxygen, nourishment and protection. When he is ready to give birth, the male opens his brood pouch and makes contractions to push out the babies. Once born, the adults have nothing to do with their offspring—the newborn seahorses are independent and fend for themselves.

According to International Union for Conservation of Nature, the dwarf seahorse population is declining due to habitat loss, pollution, residential and commercial development, and human activities.

Video credit: Mike Masellis

Dwarf Seahorse Dad Gives Birth On Camera!

A dwarf seahorse birth was caught on camera at The Florida Aquarium. One of the biologists who cares for these seahorses was walking by one morning and witnessed and filmed the birth.

The seahorse gave birth to 8 babies, who measure around three mm in length. The adult dwarf seahorses are generally around one inch in length, and are the third smallest seahorse species in the world.

This species generally mate during a full moon and give birth 10-14 days later.


New year, new baby seahorses!

Sydney, Wednesday 13 January 2021: Babies are here, there and everywhere inside SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium’s nursery where over 100 endangered White’s Seahorses were born just in time for the new year!

A herd of babies each smaller than a grain of rice emerged from their dads’ pouches in the final months of 2020, with a few dozen arriving just two days before the new year rolled around. Their arrival marks a successful start to the second year of the White’s Seahorse Conservation Breeding Program initiated by SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium, Fisheries NSW and the University of Technology Sydney.

Pregnant White's Seahorse juvenile
Pregnant White's Seahorse juvenile
Pregnant White's Seahorse juvenile
Pregnant White's Seahorse juvenile
Pregnant White's Seahorse juvenile

Aquarium staff say the babies are growing nice and strong while their parents are keeping busy and expected to deliver more babies over the next few months. 

“We have over 100 White’s Seahorse babies and are expecting more!” said Mitchell Brennan, SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium Aquarist and Seahorse Expert. “We took learnings from our first year of breeding and made changes to the facility, food source and their husbandry routine to develop a more streamlined and efficient program. We believe this may have contributed to such a positive start to the season.”

Continue reading "New year, new baby seahorses!" »

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. 

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.

Continue reading "Rarely-Seen Pygmy Sea Horses Hatch at Steinhart Aquarium" »

Tiny Sea Horses Dazzle at Zoo Basel


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.


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

2 seahorse

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.

1 seahorse

3 seahorse

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

Seahorse 1

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.

Seahorse 2

Seahorse 3

Seahorse 4Photo credits: Allwetterzoo Münster

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.