ALERT: After careful consideration, we have made the decision to close Georgia Aquarium to public guests. We continue to closely monitor this ever-evolving situation around COVID-19 with the ongoing commitment to the health and wellbeing of our guests, staff, volunteers and animals.

The female big-bellied seahorse will leave her eggs in the brood pouch of the male. The male will carry the eggs until they hatch.
  • Size

    7 inches (18 cm)
  • Diet

    Small crustaceans such as copepods and other zooplankton
  • Range

    Southwest Pacific around Australia and New Zealand
  • Habitat

    Rocky reefs in shallow waters among the sea grass beds and weeds

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).

Animal Fact

Male is distinctive because of its large brood pouch.

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.

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).

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

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.


Buy Tickets