Common seahorse

(Hippocampus kuda)


Common 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 kuda) reaches a length of 30 cm although it appears shorter because the tail is coiled. It is variable in colour and has small knobs on the corners of the bony plates.

Common seahorses usually inhabit sheltered habitats such as bays and estuaries, but may occasionally be found on outer reefs down to depths of 30 m. 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 seahorses are generally monogamous? The two partners of a pair will greet one another with courtship displays in the morning and sometimes in the evening to reinforce their pair bond.


Name (Scientific) Hippocampus kuda
Name (English) Common seahorse
Name (French) Cheval de mer doré
Name (German) Ästura-Seepferdchen
Name (Spanish) Caballito de mar común
CITES Status Appendix II
CMS Status Not listed



Photo Copyright by
Drew R. Smith



Range Indo-Pacific from Pakistan and India to southern Japan, Hawaii, and Society Islands
Habitat Bays, estuaries - also in brackish water - and outer reefs from surface to about 70 m depth
Wild population Unknown. Imports reported for the year 2005 to the CITES Trade Daata Base total 27'664 live and 5762 dead specimens.
Zoo population 527 specimens reported to ISIS (2007). Considering that most public 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

Common seahorse


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


Photo Copyright by
Drew R. Smith

Why do zoos keep this animal

Common 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.