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Green Dwarf Seahorse Anchored To Seagrass

Dwarf Seahorse (Hippocampus zosterae)

Let’s dive into the world of the dwarf seahorse (Hippocampus zosterae)! With a maximum height of only 1 inch and a cylindrical coronet on its head, this species is the third smallest seahorse in the world. They can be a variety of colors like beige, yellow or green and may also have different markings.

Here are a few fun facts about the dwarf seahorse.

 #1: Where does the dwarf seahorse live? 

If you want to see a dwarf seahorse in their natural habitat, then you will have to head to the coastal waters of the Gulf of Mexico, the Atlantic coast of Florida, The Bahamas or the Caribbean. This species of seahorse is found exclusively in these areas and nowhere else.

White dwarf seahorse hiding behind coral
Photo Credit: Live Art Aquatics

 #2: What habitats do dwarf seahorses like? 

Once you’re in the right part of the world, you will need to direct your search to seagrass beds in shallow waters, as dwarf seahorses are almost completely restricted to this habitat. They may be spotted in a bay with high salinity, a coral reef ecosystem or even among the mangroves, but if there is no seagrass around then they won’t be either.

Dwarf seahorse habitat in the seagrass bed
Photo Credit: Heather Dine

 #3: Slow and steady wins the seahorse race. 

Dwarf seahorses have notoriously low mobility so they tend to stay within one spot and have a very small area to call home. According to the Guinness World Records, it is the slowest moving fish in the world, with them hitting a top speed of almost 0.001 miles per hour.1

Pink dwarf seahorse
Photo Credit: Will Thomas

 #4: Dwarf seahorses are masters of disguise. 

A master of disguise, the dwarf seahorse can change its skin color and pattern to blend in with the surrounding environment and hide from predators or prey. Not only do they use color change for camouflage, they also change colors when interacting with another seahorse in order to communicate courtship interests or territorial disputes. Just like squid, cuttlefish and octopuses, seahorses have specialized organs called chromatophores, which are present in the skin and contain pigments that react to messages from the brain telling them which color to turn.

Dwarf seahorse in reeds
Photo Credit: Josh More

 #5: Hiding from predators is an important seahorse skill. 

Unfortunately for the dwarf seahorse makes a tasty meal for a many species including:

    • Tuna
    • Dorado
    • Skat
    • Rays
    • Crabs
    • Water birds

Although the adults can use their camouflage for protection, the younger seahorses can’t change their color to blend into their surroundings and therefore face a bigger risk of predation.

Dwarf seahorse using tail as an anchor
Photo Credit: Kent Miller

 #6: Paternity leave for seahorses? 

Did you know that seahorses are the only species in the world where the male gives birth? The mating season generally runs from February to October, and in one breeding season a male dwarf seahorse can birth hundreds of offspring. Genetic studies have shown that the dwarf seahorse does not reproduce outside their pair bond, which makes the species monogamous.2 When born, juvenile seahorses are only ¼ inch long and are no longer under the protection of their parents. They are left to fend for themselves.

Dwarf seahorse anchoring to seagrass
Photo Credit: MWCPhoto

 #7: What is in the dwarf seahorse diet? 

Dwarf seahorse are ambush predators and feed on small fish, small crustaceans, amphipods and small invertebrates. Seahorses don’t have any teeth or a digestive system so when they eat, they swallow their prey whole. When prey swims close enough, they rapidly intake a lot of water and suck up the prey through their snout. Seahorses feed often.

2 pink dwarf seahorse on underwater foliage
Photo Credit: Will Thomas

 #8: What sounds do dwarf seahorses use to communicate? 

Dwarf seahorse communicate through a fast clicking sound! They create this clicking noise through a method called stridulation, which is the rubbing together of certain bones in their skull. Clicking in dwarf seahorses usually occurs during feeding, particularly in a new environment, or during competition for mates.

Skeleton of a dwarf seahorse
Photo Credit: dadriaen (Creative Commons)

Dwarf seahorse populations are declining for several reasons: seagrass habitat loss, collection for the aquarium trade, ocean acidification and oil spills. Let’s keep doing our part to help protect the oceans, and therefore also dwarf seahorse populations.


Additional Dwarf Seahorse Resources:
1. NOAA – Dwarf Seahorse
2. U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service – Dwarf Seahorse
3. NOAA Status review report: dwarf seahorse (Hippocampus zosterae

1Guinness World Records. (n.d.). Slowest fish. Retrieved 28 August 2022, from

Laura Jessop

Laura Jessop

I am an ocean enthusiast that has worked previously and continue to help at Local Ocean Conservation which is a non-profit organisation based in Kenya. I helped with the efforts of protecting sea turtles that have been caught as by-catch in the Indian Ocean. I help them digitalise and manage over 20 years worth of data that they have collected. Currently I am a remote intern here at ANGARI and very excited to help with the amazing work they conduct.

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