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Pipefishes, Sea Dragons, & Sea Horses
Seahorses are perhaps among the most well loved marine fishes and have intrinsic value due to their unique shape and resemblance to horses. They are included in the same family as Pipefishes and Sea Dragons, which share many physical characteristics. All of these species have small mouths, are carnivorous planktivores, and require significant quantities of small foods to thrive. Seahorses have heads that are bent sharply down, long tubular snouts, and bodies and tails that are encased in armor-like bony plates. Because they have no spines in their dorsal or ventral fins, they are very poor swimmers and must use their prehensile tails to anchor themselves to coral branches, algae, or seagrasses. Sea Dragons are very similar to Sea Horses except that they have long leaf-like protrusions all over their bodies that serve as camouflage as they drift among clumps of seaweed. Pipefishes’ bodies are straight and they swim horizontally among crevices and sheltered areas of coral reefs. All of these fishes are known for their strange reproductive behavior where males incubate the fertilized eggs in their abdominal pouch until they hatch.
These species are best kept in quiet aquaria with small, non-agressive fishes. Some may require live foods initially, but most will eventually accept frozen items like brine shrimp, mysis, and cyclops once they become accustomed to the aquarium environment. Fishes in this family require excellent water quality and must be fed three or more times per day in order to thrive. Before you purchase any Sea Horse or Pipefish, make sure it is feeding well!