Pygmy Seahorses

Exploring the minature world of the pygmy seahorse.

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Satomi’s Pygmy Seahorse – Hippocampus satomiae

The title for smallest of the small goes to Satomi’s Pygmy Seahorse. A max size of only 1.4cm, its no surprise this species went so long without being discovered. It is found in scattered locations throughout Indonesia, and are extremely difficult to spot even in known locations.

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Pygmy Seahorses are still part of the genus Hippocampus which all seahorses belong. However, they are distinctively different than their larger cousins. Pygmy Seahorses rarely grow over 1 inch in size. Most of these tiny fish form close relationships with a host plant or animal, including gorgonians, colonial hydrazoans, and algae. Most species have only been discovered in the past 10 years, and it is believed there are many more not yet described.

H. bargibanti Stephen Childs

H. bargibanti Photo Courtesy of Stephen Childs

H. denise photo courtesy of Solanaboy

H. denise photo courtesy of Solanaboy

H. pontohi Photo Courtesy of Jenny Huang

H. pontohi Photo Courtesy of Jenny Huang

There are nine species of pygmy seahorse:

  • Hippocampus bargibanti
  • Hippocampus colemani
  • Hippocampus debelius
  • Hippocampus denise
  • Hippocampus minotaur
  • Hippocampus pontohi
  • Hippocampus satomiae
  • Hippocampus severnsi
  • Hippocampus waleananus

Reproduction

Pygmy seahorses are unique from larger seahorses in other ways. There is no pouch at the base of the tail. The male still incubated the eggs, but he does this in a brooding cavity in the trunk (body) region with a downward facing opening. This is likely an adaptation due to their small size. Pygmies only have a few young at a time. H. bargibanti has been recorded having up to 34, but most have less than a dozen at a time. Fry immediately settle at birth rather than spending time as larvae.

Your Photos Needed!

Many pygmy seahorse species are so new that there are very few photos available. If you can help out, please email me.