Size7 inches (18 cm)
DietSmall crustaceans such as copepods and other zooplankton
RangeSouthwest Pacific around Australia and New Zealand
HabitatRocky reefs in shallow waters among the sea grass beds and weeds
- 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).
The male big-bellied seahorse is distinctive because of its large brood pouch.
- 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.
- 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).
- 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.
- “Data Deficient” on the IUCN Red List
- 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.