Lined Seahorse

(Hippocampus erectus)


This seahorse's small size allows it to explore seagrass beds, where it searches for food and finds blades of grass on which to anchor for rest and protection. Both males and females vary in color and can be yellow, brown, orange, gray, red or black, typically with white lines across the body that allow them to blend into their reef habitats. This camouflage coloration, along with their bony body, helps to protect the lined seahorse from predators. Some individuals also have fleshy tabs, giving them a frilled appearance.

Seahorses have an intimate courtship. They hold tails, swim snout to snout, and engage in a courtship dance. The female deposits eggs into the male's pouch, where he fertilizes them and carries the eggs to term. Seahorses have monogamous relationships, and the male cares for the unhatched eggs, regulating the conditions inside the pouch where the eggs are stored.

A Note From the Caretaker

The female transfers the eggs to the male's pouch, where they are incubated until birth.

Video: Seahorse Adaptations

Watch and listen as Aquarist Thomas Studer tells us about the fascinating behaviors and adaptations displayed by the lined seahorses on exhibit in our Surviving Through Adaptation gallery.

Quick Facts

Learn more about the lined seahorse! Did you know that seahorses give birth to anywhere from 5 to 2,500 young at a time?

These seahorses can be found in the western Atlantic Ocean, from Nova Scotia to Uruguay.

Seahorses primarily eat larval shrimp, amphipods, copepods, worms and small snails.

Lined seahorses typically range from 2 to 4 inches, with a maximum size of 6 inches.

According to the IUCN Red List, this species is vulnerable and at high risk of extinction.

Lined seahorses have very few known predators due to their bony bodies and ability to camouflage.

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