Seahorse & Syngnathid Species
Seahorses are a genus (Hippocampus) of fish belonging to the family Syngnathidae, which also includes pipefish and sea dragons. There are thought to be around 49 species of seahorse, and that number grows as new species are still being discovered. They are mainly found in shallow tropical and temperate waters throughout the world. They prefer to live in sheltered areas such as sea grass beds, coral reefs, or mangroves. They bob around in sea grass meadows, mangrove stands, and coral reefs where they are camouflaged. During social moments or in unusual surroundings, seahorses turn bright colors.
Pipefish look like straight-bodied seahorses with tiny mouths. The name is derived from the peculiar form of their snout, which is like a long tube, ending in narrow and small mouth which opens upwards and is toothless. The body and tail are long, thin, and snake-like. They have a highly modified skeleton formed into armored plating. This dermal skeleton has several longitudinal ridges, so that a vertical section through the body looks angular, not round or oval as in the majority of other fishes.
Ghost Pipefish Species
Ghostpipefishes are related to pipefishes and seahorses. They are found in tropical waters of the Indian Ocean, from Asia to Africa. These fish, none of which are longer than 15 centimetres (5.9 in), float near motionlessly, with the mouth facing downwards, around a background that makes them nearly impossible to see. They feed on tiny crustaceans, sucked inside through their long snout. They live in open waters except during breeding, when they find a coral reef or muddy bottom, changing color and shape to minimize visibility.
In many respects, they are similar to the pipefishes, but can be distinguished by the presence of pelvic fins, a prominent, spiny, dorsal fin, and star-shaped plates on the skin. Female ghost pipefishes use their enlarged pelvic fins to brood their eggs until they hatch.
Your Photos Needed!
Fusedjaw.com is trying to build a comprehensive archive of syngnathid species. If you can help out and have some high quality seahorse and pipefish photos, especially those you don’t see here, please send us an email.