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Longsnout seahorse

Hippocampus reidi

Description: The Longsnout or Slender seahorse has an elongated curved body that is mostly covered with bony plates. It has a horse-like head and a prehensile tail. The color can vary from yellow, white, brown or even a two-toned color. The body has small dark spots which other seahorses do not have. The males have a smooth pouch and the females do not.

Size: The maximum length with the tail extended is about seven inches (18 cm).

Behavior: Pairs will perform greeting dances prior to feeding during the day and at night they remain in place by grasping plants and sponges. Swimming is upright and slow, moving themselves with their dorsal fin, while guiding with their pectoral fins (located behind their eyes). Their ability to change colors for camouflage purposes and head posturing are used to deter predators.

Diet: Their diet consists of ghost shrimp, grass shrimp, amphipods and other small marine crustaceans. These sit-and-wait seahorses, suck their prey into their toothless mouth at the end of their long snout.

Senses: Longsnout seahorses have excellent eyesight and can move their eyes independently.

Communication: They communicate during the mating ritual by the same techniques used for avoiding predators – posturing their heads and changing colors.

Reproduction: The male will court the female for several days by changing his color, circling her and showing his empty egg pouch. The two will rise together and the female deposits the eggs into his pouch to be fertilized. The male will nurture the developing eggs for about 14 days. After incubating the eggs, the male gives birth to as many as 1,000 young. At birth, they look like miniature adults.

Habitat/range: They occur throughout the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico north to Florida and south to Brazil. They prefer shallow areas where they can camouflage themselves among the seagrasses, mangroves and sponges.

Status: Listed as Data Deficient on IUCN Red List.