Seahorse Characteristics. What Makes Them Unique

Seahorses are very unique fish.

That’s right, they are called seahorses because their neck and head are shaped like a horse, but they are actually fish!

The dictionary defines characteristics as a feature or quality belonging typically to a person, place, or thing and serves to identify it.

A distinguishing trait, quality, or property

oxford languages, merriam webster

So, the characteristics of a seahorse are easy to identify. Their characteristics are everything about them because, like their horse-head appearance, everything about them is different from all the other fish in the sea.

Seahorse Characteristics:



Stealthy Hunting

How They Protect Themselves

The Way They Swim


Starting with the head of the seahorse, it is literally shaped like a horse-head which is where they get their name from, but their neck is also shaped like that of a horse.

They also have a long snout that slopes down towards the mouth, somewhat similar to that of a horse.

You could even say their belly and back are shaped like a horse, but seahorses do not have any legs, so the resemblance stops there.

The rest of the seahorse is a long tail like a monkey tail.


Seahorses are the only animal where the male is the one that gets pregnant and gives birth to the babies.

It all starts with a male and female showing interest in each other.

They will begin swimming together with each other up towards the surface, to synchronize their movements together while also intertwining with each other.

When they are ready to breed they will already be used to each other’s movements because they will have to do it quickly.

The male seahorse opens his pouch and the female deposits her eggs with a tube called the ovipositor.

The male seahorse can keep the eggs in his brood pouch for up to 45 days, providing them with everything they need to develop.

When the babies are released, they are already fully developed and self-sufficient. They look like teeny tiny seahorses.

The parents completely leave the babies to fend for themselves and will sometimes eat some of them.

Very few of the seahorse babies ever survive, which just adds to the strange world of seahorses.

This is why some scientists conclude that the male seahorse is the one to get pregnant. This way the female is already getting more eggs ready so they can continually have babies to sustain their population.

Stealthy Hunting

Seahorses may look cute but they are deadly predators when it comes to their food.

Seahorses don’t have stomachs so everything they eat goes straight to their digestive tract, where it is processed rather quickly. Because of this, seahorses will eat 30-50 times per day.

To eat this much food, the seahorse will anchor itself by wrapping its long tail around grass, sea plants, or a piece of coral.

The seahorse can then change color and camouflage itself to blend in with its background. It can change colors to match even the most colorful corals!

When shrimp come close enough the seahorse uses the spring in its s-shaped body to spring forward, while also using suction from its long snout to quickly suck its prey into its snout and swallow it whole.

The snout of the seahorse is also aerodynamic, so it can travel through the water quickly.

Seahorse’s also have great eyesight and the ability to move each eye in completely different directions from each other to see any prey in any direction.

How They Protect Themselves

Seahorses are also unique in the way they protect themselves.

Seahorses are very slow swimmers so to compensate for this, the seahorse is usually camouflaged. They are so hard to see that some species have been discovered by accident when they are found attached to a piece of coral that scientists bring not the lab to analyze.

Seahorses also hide, but if they are found, most creatures will not try very hard to eat them because they are covered in bony plates that can resist a great force of compression. Most creatures cannot bite through this body armor which makes seahorses very undesirable.

Their worst predator in the sea, other than humans, are crabs that inhabit the same shallow waters and can actually crush a seahorse with the power of their pinschers.

The Way They Swim

Most fish are designed to swim, but seahorses swim upright using a long fin on their back and tiny fins on their head. Their fins are usually compared to a hummingbird’s wings because they can move 30-70 times per second, propelling the seahorse forward.

However fast their fins are though is lost in the very slow movement of the seahorse. The dwarf seahorse is the slowest swimming fish in the world at a whopping 5 ft per hour.


I hope we have explained what characteristics are and why the seahorse has so many. If you enjoyed our article please check out more. Thank You!

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