About our seahorses.


27 Feb
27Feb
                

Longsnout Seahorse

Longnose Seahorse. Photo © Anne DuPont
Longnose Seahorse. Photo © Anne DuPont

Hippocampus reidi

This small fish is smoother than some of its seahorse counterparts, but still displays a variety of colors and the ability to change color quickly for camouflage. It is a poor swimmer that prefers to ambush small prey from its secure hiding spot among seagrass, mangroves, or gorgonian coral, quickly sucking them into its toothless snout. They mate for life, have complicated courtship and bonding rituals, and the male carries the embryos to term in his brood pouch. These longsnout seahorses grow to almost 7 inches long and live one to four years. They have few predators because of their camouflage and bony-plated body, but are collected by humans for the aquarium trade or folk medicine.

Order – Syngnathiformes
Family – Syngnathidae
Genus – Hippocampus
Species – reidi

Common Names

English language common names for this species include longsnout seahorse, Brazilian seahorse, seahorse, and slender sea horse. Other common names include caballito narizón (Spanish), caballito hocico largo (Spanish), caballito de mar (Spanish), caballito (Spanish), cavalo-marinho (Portuguese), kaba ‘i awa (Papiamento), langsnudet søhest (Danish), and nagabana-tatsu (Japanese).

Importance to Humans

The longsnout seahorse is considered an important species in the aquarium trade and is one of the most exported Brazilian marine ornamental fish species. In addition, it is commonly collected for use in folk medicine, as souvenirs, and for religious purposes. This seahorse is also frequently taken as bycatch in non-selective fishing gear such as trawl nets.

Conservation

Many seahorse populations are declining due to unsustainable exploitation of these unusual fish. They are collected as aquarium fish, folk medicine, curiosities and for religious purposes. Seahorses are also taken as bycatch in the shrimp trawl fisheries off the coasts of the US, Mexico, and Central America. In particular, the longsnout seahorse is considered threatened in the US by the American Fisheries Society due to the rarity of this species along with degradation of its seagrass habitats in South Florida. However, according to the World Conservation Union (IUCN) the longsnout seahorse is considered “data deficient” and not listed on the IUCN Red List. This high exploitation of the longsnout seahorse along with the ever-growing threat of inshore habitat degradation, has resulted in the listing of this species as “threatened” in Appendix II of CITES 2004.

> Check the status of the longnose seahorse at the IUCN website.

Geographical Distribution

World distribution map for the longsnout seahorse
World distribution map for the longsnout seahorse

This seahorse can be found throughout the Caribbean Sea and the western North Atlantic Ocean including off North Carolina and the southern U.S. as well as Bermuda, and south to Santa Catarina, Brazil.

Habitat

Typically the longsnout seahorse is considered an uncommon species although in some locations it may be common. It is usually observed attached to mangroves, seagrasses or gorgonians, however it may also be seen swimming freely in the midwater or associated with floating sargassum. During the night, this species stops feeding and also stops swimming, wrapping its tail around a holdfast and remaining there until dawn. Seahorses swim by rapid undulations of the dorsal and pectoral fins. The depth range of this seahorse is 0-55 meters with smaller individuals residing in shallower habitats. Male longsnout seahorses typically have a smaller home range than do the females, this is thought to be due at least in part to lower mobility due to the brood pouch.

Biology

Longsnout seahorse. Photo © Richard Bejarano
Longsnout seahorse. Photo © Richard Bejarano

Distinctive Features
This seahorse has a narrow body with a long thick snout. The coronet (crown-shaped piece of skin located at the top of the head) may be quite large, rounded and convoluted. Tubercles are low and rounded while spines are absent with the exception of eye spines. Typically there are no skin appendages, although the longsnout seahorse is covered with rings of bony plates. The tail is long and curved.

Coloration
The longsnout seahorse ranges from black to yellow, red, orange and brown with numerous white dots primarily on the tail. Pale saddles may be present along the dorsolateral surfaces. A interesting aspect of seahorse coloration is the ability to rapidly transform color patterns to blend with their immediate surroundings. This species is similar to the lined seahorse (H. erectus) which has a similar body type however it typically has pearly white lines and spots along the body and face. It also has a deeper body and a wedge-like or triangular coronet with sharp edges and spines while the longsnout seahorse has a narrower body and a rounded coronet.

Dentition
Seahorses lack teeth however they do have a long snout to accommodate their diet of small shrimp, very small fish, plants, and plankton which they swallow whole (see “Food Habits” section for more details).

Size, Age, and Growth
Seahorses generally live from one to four years. The maximum reported size of the longsnout seahorse is 6.9 inches (17.5 cm) in height (top of the coronet to the end of the stretched out tail). This species reaches maturity at approximately 3.1 inches (8 cm) in size.

Food Habits
The diet of the longsnout seahorse consists of ghost shrimp, grass shrimp, opossum shrimp, amphipods, and other small marine crustaceans. Seahorses are know as “ambush” predators, often sitting and waiting for prey items rather than actively pursuing prey. When feeding, seahorses use their long snout and small mouth to create pipette-like suction drawing live prey into their mouths. Longsnout seahorses search for prey only during day light hours. They do not have teeth, food is swallowed whole, passing quickly through the digestive system.

Reproduction
The ovoviviparous longsnout seahorse is pair-bonded in the wild, in other words, males mate for life with the same female. Breeding season extends for at least eight months out of the year with some reports documenting this species as actively reproducing year-round with a peak from October to February. Courtship behavior includes the male impressing the female with dramatic changes in coloration, pouch displays, and graceful swimming behaviors. The female will deposit up to 1,600 eggs in the males pouch where fertilization takes place. Seahorse eggs are oval or pear-shaped, orange in color, and measure 0.05 inches (1.2 mm) in diameter. The pouch seals shut during egg development, opening approximately 14 days later when the eggs hatch and the male gives birth to tiny young seahorses that appear identical to mature seahorses. Newborn seahorses measure approximately 0.2 inches (5.14 mm) in height.

Longsnout seahorses are often displayed in aquariums. Photo © Deb Devers
Longsnout seahorses are often displayed in aquariums. Photo © Deb Devers

Predators
In general, seahorses are believed to have few natural predators due to their ability to camouflage along with their unpalatable boney plates and spines. Even so, seahorses have been documented from the stomachs of large pelagic fishes including red snapper, dorado, rays, skates, tuna, and dolphinfishes.Parasites
External parasites of seahorses include flukes, isopods, and monogenetic trematodes; internal parasites are digenetic trematodes, cestodes, and nematodes.

Taxonomy

The longsnout seahorse was originally described by Ginsburg as Hippocampus reidi in 1933. Synonyms found in scientific literature referring to this species include H. obtusus (Ginsburg 1933) and H. poeyi (Howell Riviero 1934). This fish belongs to the family Syngnathidae which includes pipefish and leafy sea dragons. The etymology of this family name is from the Greek syn meaning “with” and “together” along with gnathos translated as “jaw”. The genus name Hippocampusis derived from ancient Greek, translated as “horse/sea monster”.

Prepared by: Cathleen Bester





                

Lined Seahorse

Lined Seahorse. Photo © Anne DuPont
Lined Seahorse. Photo © Anne DuPont

Hippocampus erectus

These specialized fish are poor swimmers and rely on their coloring and texture to camouflage themselves among coral, seagrass, or mangroves where they ambush much smaller prey by sucking them into their toothless snouts. They choose a mate for a season or a lifetime, have complex courting and bonding rituals, and the male carries the embryos to term in his brood pouch. The lined seahorses grow to over 7 inches long and live one to four years. Because of their excellent camouflage, and their body structure of bony plates, they have little danger of predation, but humans collect them for traditional medicine and the aquarium trade.

Order – Syngnathiformes
Family – Syngnathidae
Genus – Hippocampus
Species – erectus

Common Names

English language common names are lined seahorse, horsefish, northern seahorse, sea horse, seahorse, spotted sea horse, and spotted seahorse. Other common names include Amerikansk Jättesjöhäst (Swedish), caballito punteado (Spanish), caballito estriado (Spanish),caballito erecto (Spanish), caballito de mar (Spanish), cavalo-marinho (Portuguese), cavalo-do-mar (Portuguese), cavalinho-do-mar (Portuguese), cabai di awa (Papiamento), hippocampe rayé (French), vestatlantisk søhest (Danish), and zeepaardje (Dutch).

Importance to Humans

Lined seahorse coloration can vary considerably. Photo © Anne DuPont
Lined seahorse coloration can vary considerably. Photo © Anne DuPont

Seahorses are not targeted in fisheries in the western Atlantic Ocean, however they are a targeted fish in other regions where they are commonly traded for ornamental display, aquarium fishes, and traditional Chinese medicine. It is also commonly taken as bycatch in the shrimp trawl and other fisheries off of Florida, Mexico, Central America, and South America. It is also susceptible to habitat degradation due to coastal development and marine pollution.

Conservation

The lined seahorse is listed by the World Conservation Union (IUCN) Red List as “Vulnerable” due primarily to indirect evidence that numbers are continuing to decline which has raised concern. In addition, all species within the genus of Hippocampus were listed in Appendix II of CITES in 2002. In Florida, this species is targeted within the aquarium trade fishery which is monitored and regulated by the state including a limitation on the number of commercial harvesters. However, non-selective in not monitored in any state.

> Check the status of the lined seahorse at the IUCN website.

Geographical Distribution

World distribution map for the lined seahorse
World distribution map for the lined seahorse

This seahorse is found from Cape Cod (and rarely Nova Scotia, Canada) southward to Bermuda, the Bahamas, shores of the Gulf of Mexico, Cuba, Haiti, Lesser Antilles, Caribbean coast of Panama, and Columbia, and the Atlantic coast of South America to Uruguay. In addition, there exists a southern form that appears to be genetically distinct from the north Atlantic specimens. This form, residing from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and possibly Suriname, may prove to be a separate species.

Habitat

The lined seahorse occurs at depths from 2-230 feet (.5-70 m) and is often observed clinging to aquatic vegetation including mangroves, seagrasses, sponges, corals, and floating sargassum. Those that reside with sargassum often have protuberances and fleshy tabs that aid in camouflage. This seahorse is also found associated with man-made structures. Adults may be associated with vegetation or swimming freely in the midwater while newborn and juvenile lined seahorses tend to swim close to the surface of the water. During the winter months, this species moves into deeper waters.

Biology

Lined seahorse. Photo © George Burgess
Lined seahorse. Photo © George Burgess

Distinctive Features
The large and hardy lined seahorse is deep-chested and robust. Instead of scales, this seahorse has skin that is stretched tightly over a bony armor that is arranged as a series of rings. At the end of the tubular snouth is a small, toothless mouth. The gills are tufted and lobe-like with gill openings restricted to the upper border of the operculum. The pelvic and anal fins are absent, the dorsal fin is spineless, and the tail is prehensile. The coronet is variable and low and appears as a triangular wedge or ridge-like with sharp edges or spines. The first, third, fifth, seventh and eleventh trunk rings are enlarged which distinguishes it from other species of seahorses that typically have enlarged first, fourth, seventh, and eleventh trunk rings.

Coloration
The basic color of the lined seahorse varies from gray, orange, brown, yellow and red to black while brown specimens tend to be paler on their front side. The body often has a characteristic pattern of white lines following the neck contour from which this fish gets its common name of “lined seahorse”. Small white dots are located on the tail along with darker or paler saddles across the back.

Dentition
Seahorses lack teeth however they do have a long snout to accommodate their diet of small shrimp, very small fish, plants, and plankton which they swallow whole (see “Food Habits” section for more details).

Size, Age, and Growth
The maximum reported length of the lined seahorse is 7.5 inches (19.0 cm). Maturity is reached at lengths of 2.2-2.8 inches (5.6-7.0 cm) with males developing brood pouches at 5-7 months of age. The lifespan of this seahorse is approximately one year in length.

Food Habits
Seahorses are slow-moving so rather than chasing down prey, they use their elongated snout as a pipette to suck in small crustaceans including shrimp. Other prey items include amphipods, copepods, polychaetes, and gastropods.

Lined seahorses. Photo © Anne DuPont
Lined seahorses. Photo © Anne DuPont

Reproduction
Seahorses are sexually dimorphic, with the presence of a brood pouch at the base of the abdomen of males the most obvious structural difference. Males also have proportionally longer tails than do the females. Mating with a single partner for an entire season or lifetime, the majority of seahorse species are sexually and socially monogamous. The courtship behaviors are complex with partners displaying changes in color becoming pale to whitish. The male inflates his pouch prior to pursing the female, signaling his readiness to mate. The female then transfers between 250-650 eggs to the brood pouch of the male which he then promptly seals and fertilizes the eggs. The brood pouch protects the developing embryos and provides them with oxygen through a capillary network. Development in the brood pouch is 20-21 days followed by hatching. The hatched embryos are carried within the pouch until they can actively swim. The father seahorse holds fast to an object with his tail, then bends backward and forward rapidly, opening the pouch to let a young seahorse out. These motions are repeated until the pouch is emptied. Each young seahorse emerges from the pouch head-first and able to swim freely. Each is an miniature copy of the adult lined seahorse, measuring about 0.4 inches (11 mm) in length. Lined seahorses reach their maximum size about approximately 8-10 months of age.Predators
In general, seahorses are believed to have few natural predators due to their ability to camouflage along with their unpalatable boney plates and spines. Although lined seahorses are well-camouflaged among aquatic vegetation, mobility is limited making this species somewhat vulnerable to predation. Larger fishes prey on adults and juveniles including dolphinfish, tuna, and sharks. In captive situations, parental males have been documented as cannibalizing small numbers of their own young.

Parasites
Captive lined seahorses are especially vulnerable to parasitic infections including microsporidians, including Glugea heraldi; a myxosporidian of the genus Sphaeromyxa; fungi; ciliates, including Uronema marinum; and nematodes.

Taxonomy

The lined seahorse was first described in 1810 by Perry as Hippocampus erectus. Synonyms include H. hudsonius DeKay 1842, H. punctulatus Guichenot 1853, H. marginalis Kaup 1856, H. laevicaudatus Kay 1856, H. fascicularis Kay 1856, H. villosus Günther 1880, H. stylifer Jordan & Gilbert 1882, H. kincaidi Townsend & Barbour 1906, H. brunneus Bean 1906. This fish is a member of the family Syngnathidae which includes seahorses along with pipefishes. The etymology of this family name is from the Greek syn meaning “with” and “together” along with gnathos translated as “jaw”. The genus name Hippocampus is derived from ancient Greek, translated as “horse/sea monster”. It includes three species of seahorses found in the western North Atlantic including the longsnout seahorse (H. reidi).

Prepared by: Cathleen Bester


Both of these articles copied from https://www.floridamuseum.ufl.edu/discover-fish

        


        


08/03/2020

Absolutely stunning markings on these Hippocampus Erectus, the parents of some of our babies !


10/03/2020

Finally our last freshwater tank is converted to marine apart from a glass scraper and more reliable heater. This will be ready shortly (filled with a good amount of mature water), to take our ready to move on babies !

Lovely seafans bought from seaweed007 on ebay !


03/04/2020

Trying out different camera settings to get the look that I want. Nearly there, but not quite !


11/04/20



12/04/2020



05/07/2020


27Feb
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