These fish known as bony or teleost fish are classified in the same family as needles and pipe fish, a species in the Syngnathidae family. The word hippocampus is the one that is formally used to name this animal, this word comes from two terms of the classical Greek: hippos, which means ‘horse’, and kampos, which translates ‘sea monster’. Although the classification of the different species of wheelies is very problematic, they are all grouped within the same genus, Hippocampus.
The seahorses or sea pony owe their name is due to the peculiar similarity that their head presents with that of horses, in fact, this characteristic of having the head at a right angle to the rest of the body does not occur in any other genus of fish, they live near the coasts, between the seagrass prairie and algae.
Seahorses are an endangered species, since their natural habitats are constantly threatened, they usually live among algae, mangroves, corals and in estuaries, coral areas are dynamited or destroyed, and are at great risk disappearance due to the greenhouse effect; In addition to them, estuaries are among the most polluted areas, all this means that the existence of our marine ponies is threatened.
The size of adult wheelies varies enormously, ranging from the small Hippocampus minotaur, a species discovered in Australia that does not exceed 18 mm. long, the enormous Hippocampus ingens, a species of the Pacific that exceeds 30 cm., from the tip of its tail to the top of its head. Of course, their weight also varies within the same species, females when they have mature eggs and males when they are pregnant. The Hippocampus guttulatus, our beloved rocking horse, measures about 15 cm. of length.
As we have just mentioned in this species it is the males who become pregnant, it is the only species of animal where it is the male who becomes pregnant. The female seahorse uses her ovipositor to insert the mature eggs into the male’s incubator bag, inside which they are fertilized. We know that pregnant animals are male because they produce sperm, while female animals produce eggs, thus meeting the basic biological definition of both sexes.
Once fertilized, the eggs are embedded in the wall of the bag being wrapped by the tissues that line the inside of the bag. The bag is sealed by closing and the male then develops the embryos. Oxygen diffuses through the capillaries of the tissue that lines the eggs. The hormones help create a placental fluid that bathes a small part of the egg that protrudes from the tissues of the bag. The medium created by the fluid in the pouch is altered during pregnancy, from being similar to body fluids to resembling the surrounding sea water, presumably to reduce the stress of the young at delivery.
The pregnancy of our sea pony can last between 10 days and 6 weeks, this depending on the species and the temperature of the sea water. Once this period has elapsed, the male will go into labor, and through contractions and pumping from the inside of his bag to the outside, for several hours, he will expel the offspring, which are miniature replicas of their parents, with a size of about 7 to 11 mm. long, and that they are able to manage by themselves immediately after birth. They are completely independent and do not return to the bag after birth.
Seahorses are carnivorous animals, they feed on other fish, they do not have teeth or stomachs, they suck their prey whole up to 3 cm away. Because they lack stomachs, wheelies have to eat most of the time due to the rapid digestion process. And just as quickly as he eats, he defecates. They feed on small crustaceans, invertebrates and fish larvae. And its main food in the aquarium is Artemia, a small crustacean. A seahorse can ingest 3,000 brine shrimp a day.
Other characteristics of our marine ponies is that they are monogamous, once they choose their partner, they will stay with them for the rest of their lives. Their life expectancy ranges from 1 to 5 years of life in the wild. The morphology and position of the body, where they have a dorsal fin that moves about 35 times per second, and with their pecs that they use as a rudder, this can make them so tired when moving that they can die from it.