Big-Belly Seahorse – Profile | Traits | Diet | Breeding | Facts

Big-belly seahorse

The big-belly seahorse, scientific name Hippocampus abdominalis or pot-bellied seahorse is among the largest seahorse species on this planet, with a size of as much as 35 cm (14 in), and is the biggest in Australia.

Big-Belly Seahorse profile

Seahorses are members of the family Syngnathidae and are teleost fishes. They are present in southeast Australia and New Zealand and are listed in Appendix II of CITES.

The pot-bellied seahorse, because the name suggests, has a big swollen stomach. Like different seahorses, this species is available in a large range of colors – brown, yellow, grey, white, orange, or mottled with darkish spots on its head and trunk.

They have a forward-tilted, long-snouted head, eyes that may transfer independently of one another, and a prehensile tail. Males and females differ in look.

Males have an extended tail, a shorter snout, and a clean smooth pouch-like space on the base of the stomach. Females have more of a pointed abdomen.

Big-belly seahorse

It is the males, not the females, who grow to be pregnant. Mature males develop a pouch on the stomach, know because of the brood pouch. Females insert their ovipositor (the organ that lays eggs) into the male’s pouch and lays her eggs, then the male fertilizes them.

After about 30 days, the male delivers the newborn seahorses which appear like adults. After birth, the infants are totally unbiased and should fend for themselves.

Pot-bellied seahorses have discovered within the southwest Pacific around Australia and New Zealand the place it inhabits harbors and sheltered coastal bays. They are discovered amongst algae, seagrass, and in deeper water connected to sponges.

Big-Belly Seahorse Habitat

The big-belly seahorse is discovered amongst algae, seagrasses, and rocky reefs in shallow water, and connected to sponges and colonial hydroids in deeper areas.

They additionally connect to jetty piles and different artificial objects and may be present in estuaries. They often inhabit waters lower than 50 m (160 ft) deep, however have been discovered as deep as 104 m (340 ft). Juveniles are pelagic or connected to drifting seaweed.

Big-belly seahorse

Big-Belly Seahorse Description

The big-belly seahorse has a forward-tilted, long-snouted head, a distended however slim pot stomach, and a long, coiled tail.

It swims utilizing its dorsal fin with a vertical stance; when not swimming, it coils its prehensile tail around any appropriate growth, akin to seaweed, ready for planktonic animals to float by, when they’re sucked up by the smallmouth set on the tip of the snout much like a vacuum cleaner.

Big-Belly Seahorse is a voracious feeder, consuming primarily crustaceans, akin to shrimp, and different small animals dwelling among the many seaweed, akin to copepods and amphipods.

They don’t chew, to allow them to eat too extra due to their small intestine tract. Each eye strikes individually, making it simpler for them to see meals and predators.

Distinguishing males from females is simple: The male has a clean, smooth, pouch-like space on the base of its stomach the place the abdomen meets the tail on the front facet.

Males even have a fin there, however, it’s much less apparent. The feminine has more of a pointed abdomen with a really apparent fin on the base of it.

Big-belly seahorse


Typical seahorse body form, with a prominent round stomach. The feminine is often more slender than the male.

Male is distinctive due to its massive brood pouch.

Coloration ranges from black to yellow or tan.

Individuals could display darkish markings on its body.

Largest seahorse species within the waters around Southeast Australia, reaching a typical size of seven inches (18 cm).


They are one of the many largest seahorse species, with a size as much as 14 inches (36 cm).


They are robust swimmers. Swimming is powered by the quickly oscillating dorsal fin and steering is managed by the use of the fins on both sides of the body (pectoral fins).

They are more energetic at nightfall and night than throughout the day. Their coloring permits them to mix simply into the seagrasses and weeds.

Big-belly seahorse


They feed on crustaceans, akin to shrimp and amphipods, that are sucked into their tube-like snouts and ingested whole.


The eyes are on the perimeters of its head and transfer independently of one another.

Big-Belly Seahorse Reproduction

In the wild, breeding can start when the seahorses are about one year old, and this may be decreased to about eight months when in captivity. Breeding in big-belly seahorses year-round, with peaks within the hotter months.

Courtship initiation includes a collection of color modifications and postural shows. Dilating the opening of the brood pouch barely, the male inflates the pouch to balloon-like proportions with water by swimming forwards, or by pushing his body forwards in a pumping action, then closing the pouch opening.

At the same time, he lightens his pouch in color to white or light yellow. The male additionally brightens his total body coloration, sometimes intensifying the yellow.

A male repeatedly approaches his chosen feminine along with his head tucked down, and dorsal and pectoral fins quickly fluttering.

If the feminine just isn’t receptive, she ignores the male, which then seems for one more potential mate. If no females are receptive, the male stops displaying and deflates the pouch by dilating the pouch opening and bending forwards, expelling the water inside.

If a feminine is receptive to a courting male, she reciprocates together with her personal shade modifications and head tucking, sometimes intensifying the lighter colors akin to yellow and white, highlighting the distinction between these colors and her total darker blotching and banding patterning.

Big-belly seahorse

A collection of brief bursts of swimming collectively in tandem then ensues, typically with tails entwined, or with the feminine tightly rolling her tail up.

This has usually been described as ‘dancing’. After coming to relaxation, the male makes an attempt to get the feminine to swim in direction of the water floor with him by repeatedly pointing his snout upwards.

If the feminine responds by additionally pointing her snout upwards, then the ultimate stage of courtship follows. This includes each female and male swimming immediately upwards in direction of the water floor with each of their heads pointing upwards and tails pointing straight down.

If they attain the water floor, one or each seahorse can usually be seen and heard to snap their heads. To switch her eggs to the male, the feminine faces the male, barely above him.

Pressing the bottom of her stomach in opposition to the male’s pouch, she then squirts her eggs via the opening within the front of his dilated pouch.

The male seahorse brood 300-700 younger at a time, and may have as much as 4 broods in summer. Their coloring is a variable shade of brown, mottled with yellow-brown and with darker splotches.

The tail is commonly circled with yellow bands. In deeper water the place the tail is anchored to different vibrant types of life, akin to sponges and hydroids, they usually tackle these colors.

Big-belly seahorse


The big-belly seahorse is a popular aquarium species and dried specimens are bought as conventional medication in Asia. Stocks come from the wild or are aquarium-reared. They are simple to maintain in aquariums and feed on small shrimp and crustaceans.

Big-Belly Seahorse Facts

Also often known as “pot-bellied seahorse.”

Proficient at camouflage and is often troublesome to spot in its natural habitat.

Harvested for conventional medicines, souvenirs, and aquarium commerce.

CITES has positioned a minimal size to restrict 3.9 inches (10 cm) for all seahorses, though this guideline is believed to be much less acceptable for the pot-bellied seahorse because the male solely reaches sexual maturity just under 10 cm.

Has been noticed congregating in massive teams at night.

Big-bellied seahorse is a proficient swimmer and may swim good distances compared to their different seahorse family members.


Big-Belly Seahorse is common and proven as Data Deficient (DD) by IUCN.

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