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
  • Range

    Southwest Pacific
  • Habitat

    Rocky reefs in shallow waters

Physical Characteristics

  • Males display a prominent round belly, females are usually more slender.
  • Male is distinctive because of its large brood pouch.
  • Coloration ranges from black to yellow or tan.
  • Individuals may display dark markings on its body.
  • Largest seahorse species in the waters around Australia, reaching a common length of 7 inches (18 cm).

Animal Fact

The male big-bellied seahorse is distinctive because of its large brood pouch.

Diet / Feeding

  • Diet consists of small crustaceans such as copepods and other zooplankton.
  • Feeds nocturnally by sucking prey into its bony tubular snout with a flick of the head.
  • 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 (lives in 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

  • “Least Concern” 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.
  • Has been observed congregating in large groups at night.
  • Big-bellied seahorses are proficient swimmers and can swim longer distances in comparison to their other seahorse relatives.


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