Common Seahorse

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Hippocampus kuda - Bleeker, 1852
Common Seahorse

WIld-caught seahorses are endangered and on everyone's "do not buy list." Scott W. Michael


The keeping of seahorses is in the midst of a radical transition. In the past, seahorses were all harvested from the wild and had a terrible reputation for not surviving long in their owners' bowls and tanks.

Wild-caught seahorses rarely eat anything but live foods, and many seahorse species are endangered, or close to it, overcollected for the Asian folk-medicine trade. Wild-caught seahorses have been under CITES II protection as being on the threshold of becoming endangered of extinction.

The successful captive breeding of a number of seahorse species has changed all that. Excellent aquacultured or captive bred (CB) seahorses are now widely available.

Family: Syngnathidae

Other common name(s):

  • Spotted Seahorse

Native range:

Habitat: Relatively protected inshore areas, seagrass beds.

Maximum height: 30 cm (12 in)

Minimum aquarium size: 114 L (30 gal)

Water: Marine 24 °C (75 °F) - 28 °C (82 °F)

General swimming level: Near substrate.


The staple food for captive seahorses today is mysid shrimp. Breeders cultivate and feed live mysids, but captive-bred seahorses should accept high-quality frozen and thawed Mysis sp. shrimp. Live, adult brine shrimp enriched with a vitamin and HUFA (Highly Unsaturated Fatty Acid) supplement such as Selcon or Vibrance) make for a welcome change of diet.

Aquarium Compatibility

Keep seahorses alone, in an aquarium dedicated to their care and culture.


Seahorses are eminently reproducible in captivity. See "The Breeder's Guide to Marine Aquarium Fishes, by Matthew Wittenrich.


The informed aquarist will buy only captive-bred specimens, which will be more likely to thrive, and will keep them in their own species tank.

Reference: A PocketExpert Guide to Reef Aquarium Fishes
Image credit: SWM
Text credit: SWM