Pot-bellied seahorses, as the name suggests, have a large swollen belly. Like other seahorses, this species comes in a wide range of colors – brown, yellow, gray, white, orange or mottled with dark spots on its head and trunk. They have a forward-tilted, long-snouted head, eyes that can move independently of each other and a prehensile tail. Males and females differ in appearance. Males have a longer tail, a shorter snout and a smooth soft pouch-like area at the base of the abdomen. Females have more of a pointed stomach.
Of the three Caribbean seahorse species found in US waters, this one has the smallest distribution, being absent from the Gulf of Mexico. In the US, it is found only in North Carolina and the Atlantic Coast of Florida. Its range extends to Brazil, where it is an important species in the tropical fish trade. It is also called the Brazilian or Slender seahorse. Like most seahorses, the color can be highly variable, but tends towards bright yellows and oranges. Its favored habitat is seagrass beds and mangroves.