How Do Seahorses Eat? Fast and Deadly

3 min read

Seahorses eat a lot during the day because they don’t have stomachs or teeth.

Since seahorses don’t have stomachs or teeth, however, they have a rather unique way to catch food and eat it.

To eat without a stomach or teeth, seahorses suck the food up through their snouts and swallow it into their short digestive tract where it is digested quickly. Their food has to be small enough to fit through their snout, but their snouts can expand around food that they capture from a stealth position.

To compensate for their food being digested so quickly, seahorses will eat 30-50 times per day in captivity.


Seahorses are actually fish, but seahorses do not have a caudal fin on their tail like other fish. The caudal fin is used for swimming. Seahorses have a fin on their back so they can swim upright, but this makes them very slow swimmers.

So, since seahorses are very slow swimmers, digest their food rapidly, and eat 30-50 times per day, they have a very unique method of hunting.

You could say that seahorses are stationary stealth predators.

Seahorse’s Hunting Traits

Seahorses have four traits that make them very deadly hunters, but they don’t exactly chase down their prey.

  • S-Shaped Body
  • Eyes
  • Camouflage
  • Snouts
Seahorses hunting and eating traits

S-Shaped Body

The seahorse keeps its head back with its s-shaped body and neck.

When its prey gets close enough the seahorse head springs forward with the s-shape, while sucking and quickly swallows its prey whole.

This works because seahorses don’t have to swim and their prey, mainly crustaceans can’t escape fast enough

Eyes of the Seahorse

A seahorse can move its eyes in completely different directions from each other.

With these eyes, if the prey is advancing towards the seahorse from two different directions, the seahorse can watch both of them at the same time.

By being able to move both of their eyes in completely different directions, a seahorse can watch their entire surroundings without moving the rest of their bodies.

Seahorse Camouflage

A seahorse has many different pigments in its skin that can be mixed together to form just about any color.

sea horse camouflages to eat and hunt

They can blend into any background but they usually wrap their tail around a plant, grass, or part of a coral and change color to blend in with it.

Being camouflaged, they wait until their prey is close enough and swallow it quickly, then repeat.

Seahorse Snout

Since a seahorse’s snout is long and narrows at the end where its mouth is, the seahorse snout can travel quickly through the water with little resistance.

Is a Seahorse a Predator or a Prey?

Believe it or not, a seahorse is both a predator and a prey.

If you put all this together, seahorses are certainly deadly predators if they are able to eat 30-50 times per day from a camouflaged stealth position.

Legend has it that seahorses can camouflage themselves so well that divers can’t see them.

Many seahorse species have been discovered by accident because it was attached to a piece of live coral that was gathered for examination.

seahorse eats attached to live coral

Imagine the surprise when a tiny seahorse appears against the backdrop of the coral.

However, seahorses are also prey although they are not desired by many species.

Humans, crabs, stingrays and manta Rays, tuna fish, seabirds, and octopuses are the main predators that prey on seahorses because they are powerful enough to crush through their bony armor or, like rays and birds, seahorses are swallowed whole just because they are in a group of other food at the wrong time.

What Seahorses Eat

Do Seahorses Eat Their Babies?

After baby seahorses are born they are fully self-sufficient but only about .5-1 percent of the babies survive because their parents don’t have anything to do with them and will even eat them if they get too close.

Where Do Seahorses Like to Eat?

Seahorses will hitch themselves to plants, grass, or corals near the ocean floor or near the surface so they can feed on copepods or crustaceans that either crawl along with the ocean floor or float at the surface.


I hope we gave you a thorough understanding, of how seahorses eat, what they eat, and how they capture their prey.

If you enjoyed this article, please come back for more!

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Pet Aquariums

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