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Commonly Asked Questions

Appears in Georgia Aquarium's:
  • Cold Water Quest's Cylindrical Habitat

Range / Habitat

  • Occurs in the Southwest Pacific around Australia and New Zealand.
  • Typically found in rocky reefs in shallow waters among the sea grass beds and weeds, but can also be found attached to sponges and colonial hydroids in open water. 
  • The juvenile is pelagic (open water).

Physical Characteristics

  • Typical seahorse body shape, with a prominent round belly. The female is usually more slender than the male.
  • Male is distinctive because of its large brood pouch. 
  • Coloration ranges from black to yellow or tan.
  • Individual may display dark markings on its body.
  • Largest seahorse species in the waters around Southeast Australia, reaching a common length of 7 inches (18 cm).

Diet / Feeding

  • Feeds nocturnally by sucking prey into its bony tubular snout with a flick of the head.
  • Diet consists of small crustaceans such as copepods and other zooplankton.
  • Has no teeth or stomach. Prey is swallowed whole and passes quickly through the digestive system.

Reproduction / Growth

  • Ovoviviparous: the female deposits her eggs in the male’s brood pouch where they are fertilized and remain until they hatch. 
  • Upon hatching fry resemble miniature adults. They are released into the water column where they drift about in open water as juveniles.
  • The juvenile big-bellied seahorse will also occasionally attach itself to mats of drifting seaweed.

Conservation Status

  • “Data Deficient” on the IUCN Red List
  • Appendix II of CITES

Additional Information

  • Also known as "pot-bellied seahorse."
  • Proficient at camouflage and is usually difficult to spot in its natural habitat. 
  • Harvested for traditional medicines, souvenirs and the aquarium trade. 
  • CITES has placed a minimum size limit of 3.9 inches (10 cm) for all seahorses, although this guideline is believed to be less appropriate for the pot-bellied seahorse, as the male only reaches sexual maturity just below 10 cm. 
  • Has been observed congregating in large groups at night.
  • Big-bellied seahorse is a proficient swimmer, and can swim good distances in comparison to their other seahorse relatives.  

Sources

www.fishbase.org
www.iucnredlist.org/apps/redlist/details/10072/0

Seahorses, Pipefishes and their Relatives, Kuiter, Rudie H.