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Pygmy Seahorse

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Pygmy Seahorse / Steve Childs, Flickr

Pygmy Seahorse (Hippocampus bargibanti)

Steve Childs, Flickr

This seahorse is known as the common pygmy seahorse, or Bargibant's seahorse, after the scuba diver who discovered the species in 1969 while collecting specimens for the Noumea Aquarium in New Caledonia.

This tiny, expert camouflage artist thrives among gorgonian corals (a soft coral also known as a sea fan or sea whip) in the genus Muricella, which they hang on to using their prehensile tail.

The color and shape of this seahorse nearly perfectly matches the corals on which it lives. Check out a video of these tiny seahorses to experience their incredible ability to blend in with their surroundings.

Description:

These tiny seahorses have a maximum length of 2.4 cm - less than 1 inch). They have a short snout and fleshy body. According to FishBase, the two known color morphs of this species are pale grey or purple with pink or red tubercles, which are found on gorgonian coral Muricella plectana and yellow with orange tubercles, which are found on gorgonian coral Muricella paraplectana.

Classification:

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Actinopterygii
  • Order: Gasterosteiformes
  • Family: Syngnathidae
  • Genus: Hippocampus
  • Species: bargibanti

This pygmy seahorse is one of 9 known species of pygmy seahorse. Due to their amazing camouflage ability and tiny size, many pygmy seahorse species have only been discovered over the past 10 years, and more may be discovered.

Feeding:

Not much is known about this species, but they are thought to feed on tiny crustaceans, zooplankton and possibly the tissue of the corals on which they live.

Reproduction:

Pygmy seahorses are ovoviviparous, but unlike most animals, the male carries the eggs, which are contained in a pouch on his underside. Gestation is about 2 weeks. The young hatch looking like even tinier, mini seahorses.

Habitat and Distribution:

Pygmy seahorses live on corals off Australia, New Caledonia, Indonesia, Japan, Papua New Guinea, and the Philippines.
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