Black seahorse

(Hippocampus erectus)


Black seahorse IUCN VULNERABLE (VU)


Facts about this animal

Seahorses have a protruding snout and a body encased in bony rings. The tail is curled and prehensile.

The common seahorse (Hippocampus erectus) is a large species reaching a length of 19 cm .

Common seahorses are found in subtropical and tropical waters with temperatures ranging from 10-27 °C. They usually inhabit sheltered habitats such as bays and estuaries, but may occasionally be found on outer reefs down to depths of 30 m or more. Seagrasses or seaweed provide a favourite habitat.

Seahorses live in pairs, and when breeding the female deposits her eggs in the male's brood pouch. They hatch there, and the male then takes care of them until they are ready to live independently.

Seahorses feed on small invertebrates, such as shrimps, which they suck into their tubular mouth.

Did you know?
that the seahorses' scientific genus name, Hippocampus, is derived from the Greek "hippokampos" meaning for "bent horse"? In the antique world, the noun designated a sea monster with the head and forequarters of a horse and the tail of a dolphin or fish.


Name (Scientific) Hippocampus erectus
Name (English) Black seahorse
Name (French) Hippocampe moucheté, Hippocampe rayé
Name (German) Linien-Seepferdchen
Name (Spanish) Caballito erecto
Local names Netherlands Antilles: Zeepaardje, Cabai di awa
USA: Lined, Northern, Spotted, or Yellow Seahorse
CITES Status Appendix II
CMS Status Not listed



Photo Copyright by
Steven G. Johnson



Range Western Atlantic from Nova Scotia (Canada) and northern Gulf of Mexico to Panama and Venezuela. A southern form that may prove to be a separate species is known from Brazil.
Habitat Coral reefs from surface to ca. 70 m depth.
Wild population Unknown
Zoo population 726 reported to ISIS (2007). Considering that most publc aquaria are not part of the WAZA system and do not register their collections with ISIS, available ISIS data are not significant.

In the Zoo

How this animal should be transported

During transportation seahorses are enclosed in a restrictive container that does not allow for ideal water quality parameters and is subject to unpredictable movement orientation and noise levels. The following points, therefore, should be taken into consideration: Transit time must be minimized wherever possible. Only healthy individuals should be selected for transportation. Packaging must be adequate. Strong containers with good thermal retention qualities should be used (i.e. polystyrene) to allow for external temperature fluctuations. Heat/coolpacks can be used should the transit conditions dictate. Packs must not be placed directly next to the water.

For air transport, Container Note 51 of the IATA Live Animals Regulations should be followed.

Fish must be unpacked carefully and under low illumination.


Find this animal on ZooLex

Why do zoos keep this animal

Black seahorses are not an endangered species but their habitats, are threatened in many places. They are thus presented by zoos and aquariums as an ambassador species for the protection of coasts and estuaries, and they are of educational intrerest because of their mode of reproduction.