The Seahorse hardly looks like a fish at all! Its strange horse-shaped head gives it its name. But it is a real fish. Like other fish, it lives in water, has fins, and uses its gills to take in oxygen. Seahorses can be up to 7 inches long, but most are about 4 inches. Because they are poor swimmers, seahorses protect themselves by changing color to blend in with their surroundings. Often they are a yellowish-brown, matching seaweed and grasses in the waters where they live. Instead of the scales found on most fish, seahorses have a thin layer of skin stretched over a series of bony plates visible as rings around the trunk.
Seahorses live in shallow, tropical waters near coral reefs or eel grass. They eat small snails and baby shrimp as the animals pass by. Seahorses have no stomach or teeth--instead they will suck in prey through a tube-like snout and pass it through their digestive system. They have excellent eyesight; did you know that a seahorse can look both forwards and backwards at the same time?
Seahorses mate for life. But the most unusual thing about this animal is the way they breed! A female seahorse deposits 100 or more eggs into a pouch on the male's belly area. The male then fertilizes the eggs. Unlike with any other animal, the embryos develop within the male's pouch! Within two to six weeks, the male gives birth to tiny seahorses as small as 1 cm long. Seahorses are a threatened species--too many humans are capturing them as pets.