Seahorses look physically different from typical fish. They have small fins, hence swim slowly. They also lack teeth and a stomach, making it impossible for them to store food for a long time. Seahorses have a low chance of survival with all these weird features. However, seahorses have many adaptive features that keep them alive both in the wild and an aquarium. So, seemingly so fragile, how does a seahorse survive?
The following adaptive features help seahorses to survive:
- Seahorses can change their color and blend in with the background, hence becoming invisible to predators.
- They have no stomach for storing food; therefore, they eat a small quantity of food at a time, but they usually eat frequently to remain active.
- Their eyes are powerful and can be moved separately. This provides good vision and a better chance of avoiding predators.
- Their snouts are long, and that helps them to obtain food easily.
Now we will explain each of the features in detail. But first, let us describe the general characteristics of seahorses.
What Makes Seahorses Different?
Seahorses are different from typical fish in many ways. Their heads resemble that of a horse. In fact, the ancient people believe they are offspring of a horse sent by the gods to the water. They also have no scales and swim upright.
Their fins are small, making them slow simmers. Most species of seahorses are monogamous, at least during a breeding period.
Seahorses are commonly found in shallow waters. They are marine fish, usually found in salt waters or estuarine.
What is most unique about them is that the male carries fertilized eggs until the young ones are born rather than the female, as it is common among other animals. Despite all these features, seahorses are easy to breed in an aquarium.
Seahorses Can Camouflage
Not many fishes can change their color to match their environment, but seahorses can. This survival ability is more particularly useful to seahorses in their natural environment rather than an aquarium.
This group of fishes has small fins and swim slowly. They also swim upright, unlike most other fishes that swim sideways. This makes their movement slow and easy for predators to catch them.
While in the ocean, they are constantly at risk from predators. If they had to rely only on swimming away, they would be caught most of the time. Seahorses usually try to hide instead.
For them to avoid predation, seahorses develop the ability to camouflage and change their color. Camouflage is the ability of an animal to blend with its environment.
Chameleons are famous for it. If a seahorse sees danger approaching, it will quickly change to the color of the background and blend with it.
This makes it difficult for the predator to distinguish them from other objects in the environment. It is important to understand that aquatic animals have poor vision, so blending with the environment is enough for a seahorse to be invisible to other marine organisms.
Seahorses Have Powerful Eyes That Can Be Moved Independently
We just mentioned that aquatic organisms have poor vision. Luckily for seahorses, their vision is relatively better. Because seahorses are slow, they must see their enemies as early as possible.
If the predator is too close before the seahorse sees it, it might have been too late. Their powerful eyes help in this situation.
Fortunately, aside from having a powerful vision, seahorses’ eyes can also move independently. This means that they can be looking in two directions at the same time.
One eye can be looking at the front, and the other eye is looking at the back. With this adaptation, seahorses can detect enemies as early as possible.
Seahorses Feed Constantly
Another survival adaptation of seahorses is regular feeding. One of their distinguishing characteristics is the lack of stomach.
Vertebrate animals use the stomach to store food temporarily. Without the stomach, the food passes through the body within a short time. Any part of the food that is not utilized will be got rid of immediately.
So, there is no point in eating too much as it will turn out to be a waste. To overcome the challenges of not being able to store food, seahorses constantly feed.
If you keep a seahorse in an aquarium, you must ensure a constant food supply. You must also provide a small quantity of food at a time. The fish loves live food. Seahorses in the ocean usually feed on small crustaceans like brine shrimps and copepods.
Seahorses Have Long Snouts for Feeding
If you keep a seahorse in an aquarium, you must provide seagrass as the fish loves attaching itself to weeds and waiting for prey to pass by. If a seahorse sees a small fish, crustacean, plankton, or any other prey it feeds on, it will extend its snout and pick up the prey.
Seahorses have no teeth, so they suck up their targets and eat them whole. To make their hunting easier and more successful, the snouts are long and can stretch. The long snout enables the fish to catch its prey at an appreciable distance and when the prey is not aware of the danger.
Sea horses are marine fish with unique shapes and behaviors.
They swim upright and have small fins. Hence, they are slow swimmers.
To avoid predators, they can change their colors to match that of their environment and blend in with their background.
They also have excellent vision, and their eyes can move independently. This increases their coverage area and makes it easy for them to detect predators faster, no matter which direction it is coming from.
They have no teeth, so they must eat their food whole. To ensure this, they have long snouts that can suck up small organisms.
Seahorses have no stomach to store food. Because of this, they constantly feed to maintain their energy. Their long snouts also help to catch their prey from a long distance.