ANIMAL: Dwarf Seahorse Hippocampus zosterae Type of Animal: Seahorse Habitat: Seagrass areas, mangroves, among floating vegetation, mangrove roots, coral reefs, bays Location(s): Gulf of Mexico, Florida, Bahamas, Bermuda, & northern Caribbean Appearance: Come in variety of color shades from beige to white to green to yellow to black to tan to brown, can have white speckles, dark spots and/or protrusions-can change color to match surroundings, angled head, swims upright, very small seahorse Food/Diet: Amphipods, copepods, small shrimp, shrimp larvae, fish fry, zooplankton Status in Wild: Stable Conservation: Breeding in aquariums, aquaculture, & zoos. Extra protections on trade & capture of these animals. Lifestyle: Small groups of 2-10 animals Additional Info: Called: Male: Seastallion Female: Seamare Young: Fry Group: Herd Weight: 0.07-0.08 oz Gestation: 2 weeks Life Span: 1-2 years Height: 1 in Body Length: 1 in Tail Length: Male: 0.5 in Female: 0.4 in Main predators are many fish, crabs, & waterbirds. Like other seahorses, they have excellent camouflage. 3rd smallest seahorse in the world. While stable, they do face threats such as habitat loss/destruction, pollution, oil spills, ocean acidification, & over-collection for aquarium trade/medicinal trade/ornamental trade. Maturity reached at 3 months old. Males compete for females by tail wrestling & head snapping towards each other as well as making clicking sounds. During courtship, both male & female change color & take turns quivering. This phase lasts for 1-2 days (usually in morning) before mating. The other phases occur on the day of mating-female points head upward & male displays quivering/pumping behaviors. Next, male assumes pointing posture. Finally, mating pair repeatedly rise in water column & they intertwine tails. These animals are ambush predators, sucking prey w/ snout. Breed from mid-February to late October. Like many other seahorses, these fish are very sedentary. Fun Fact(s): One of the easiest seahorses to breed in captivity. Like other seahorses, they lack teeth & stomachs. Head fins can beat up to 50 times a second. Like other seahorses, males get pregnant & develop brood pouch. Females insert egg-laying organ into male’s pouch, laying her eggs w/ male fertilizing them. Females deposit 3-55 eggs. 10-14 days later, male gives birth to 3-55 fry. Afterwards, fry are on their own. One of the most popular seahorse species in aquarium trade due to small size. According to Guinness Book of World Records, world’s slowest-moving fish w/ top speed of 5 ft an hour.
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