Seahorse Personality

by DFS-Pet-Blog on November 2, 2009

Impolite-Seahorse **Guest post from Felicia M.**

It’s hard to think of fish as having personalities or being interactive.  Before I had seahorses I thought they were neat looking, but I just assumed they sat around and didn’t actually DO anything all day. After caring for my seahorses for over a year now, I feel they are “pets” more so than any other fish I’ve ever kept. I’m certainly not going to claim that seahorses are intelligent, because, well, they’re not. However, they definitely have what I call personality.

Unlike other fish, seahorses have a prehensile tail they use to hitch themselves to rocks and plants. This strange appendage is what enables their unique, laid-back fish lifestyle. They are able to use their tails to hold perfectly still while hunting. Their tails also make it easy for them to keep in close contact with their friends, as you can see in the photo above. They aren’t in stealth mode all the time, though. They aren’t the best swimmers, but they love to swim, dance, and play.

seahorse on thumbMy favorite seahorse is a little erectus named Kuiter (named after the biologist, of course). I’m convinced that Kuiter recognizes me and knows who I am (the mysis dispenser!). She follows me around as I work on the tank, swimming against the glass as close as she can get to me. Kuiter even likes to hitch on my fingers. I attribute this behavior partly to the fact that she is captive bred. Captive bred seahorses are used to humans and can become very friendly. This has been helpful on a few occasions when I had to handle Kuiter to medicate her. If she wasn’t used to my hands, the stress from the situation could have been fatal.

Inter-seahorse relationships are pretty complex and fascinating. I have two boys, Juniper and Debelius; and three girls, Ellis, Hoover, and you already know Kuiter.

Hoover and Kuiter, the two youngest and smallest females, are best friends and always together. They are the two most playful seahorses, always holding onto each other’s tails. My seahorses seem to enjoy holding tails with each other, like people hold hands. But apparently, it is extremely impolite for a seahorse to hitch on another seahorses’s face, body, or neck. Kuiter has a bad habit of doing this, especially to Hoover. Hoover will shake and buck wildly until Kuiter gets the hint to let go.

Juniper and Ellis, the largest and oldest, are a mated pair. He makes time every dawn to dance with Ellis and strengthen their pair bond. They have a flowing, elegant dance. Juniper turns silver and does pouch crunches while Ellis turns a lovely reddish shade. The two of them circle each other while lifting their heads like trumpets and ascending to the water’s surface. The actual courtship dance is even more elaborate, ending with Ellis depositing eggs into Juniper’s pouch.

DebeliusDebelius is a young adult male, having recently developed his pouch. Debelius dances with all the girls! He used to dance with Ellis a lot, but realizing he’s no match for Juniper, has turned his attentions lately to Hoover and Kuiter. In my opinion, Debelius is a terrible dancer. His movements aren’t graceful at all. Instead, he turns a yellowish-white color, grabs a girl’s tail (or head, whatever’s available) with his tail, and starts shaking violently. I’ve never seen anyone mate with him, or spend much time around him, so apparently they’re not all that impressed with his dancing skills, either. Maybe he’ll learn some better dance moves from watching Juniper.

This may all sound pretty far-fetched to someone who’s never had seahorses, so if you are a seahorse keeper, back me up! Please leave a comment and tell us about your seahorse’s personality.

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Seahorses: Raising Pet Seahorses
December 27, 2012 at 12:40 pm

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Animals Away November 2, 2009 at 1:02 pm

I have never had a sea horse before but I have heard that they are amazing animals. More pet like than anything else you might keep in water.

Kim November 3, 2009 at 10:10 pm

I have to agree on seahorses having personality. I have 19 seahorses now. I started with 4 and raised the rest from babies. The mother “Tiny” would swim over as soon as I got close to the tank. If I put my hand in she would hitch to it immediately. She knew that if she hitched a ride and I was cleaning the tank a shrimp of some kind would be exposed when I moved the rocks and she could grab a snack. I always have to move her out of the way. One of the babies now over a year old likes to lay on the bottom of the tank and “play dead” I have gone to fish her out a few times only to have her zip away from me. She will turn her back to me and turn her head just enough to keep an eye on me. They are all so different.

CritterHeaven November 3, 2009 at 10:51 pm

I have 4 adult seahorses, 1 juvenile and 7 that are 7 weeks old. The adults all have distinctly different personalities. One of the females is pretty shy and comes out in the open to eat and court with her mate. Another female is dancing at the front of the tank every morning at feeding time. The third will literally SIT in the feeding dish waiting her breakfast. Too funny….

By far the closest to an aquatic pet there is!

timinnl November 6, 2009 at 1:21 am

I have 21 of the cuties right now. 10 H. zosterae AKA dwarf seahorses, 1 H. comes AKA tigertail, 6 H. reidi & 3 reidi babies at 5 week. All in different tanks of course. The reidi’s have me trained pretty good. If I do not have the food in the bowl 10min after the lights are on, one of the girls will shake the tube leading to the feeding bowl. She also has a habit of bobbing her head out to the water. (That scares me.)

Forget about a quick gravel vac. It is hard when some of them will hitch on the tubing while you are working.

Joe January 2, 2010 at 4:05 pm

Very interesting article and makes me want to become a sea horse owner! Where is a good place for information to start a seahorse tank? I assume they cannot be kept with fish

Felicia January 4, 2010 at 4:33 pm

Hi, Joe, I’m so glad you liked my blog. That’s great that you are doing research before getting your seahorses. I can tell already you are going to be a responsible, successful seahorse keeper. The good news is that Captive Bred seahorses that are bred indoors like our Black Seahorses http://www.liveaquaria.com/product/prod_display.cfm?c=15+1500+2179&pcatid=2179 are pretty easy to keep in my opinion if your tank is set up properly and you have a chiller. Plus, you CAN usually keep seahorses with a few kinds of fish like tiny gobies and other peaceful, slow-eating fish.

You might be interested in another short blog post I wrote about seahorses here http://www.dfs-pet-blog.com/2009/08/seahorse-of-course/. It just quickly touches on some of the more important points of keeping seahorses. I’ve learned so much from the friendly folks at http://www.seahorse.org over the years, I think you will have a lot of fun browsing the articles and chatting with other seahorse owners there.

Rick Sharp May 19, 2010 at 2:41 am

My 3 come to the tweezers to there dinner of mysis 3 times a day.

Casidii June 1, 2010 at 9:38 am

this website is a lot of facts about seahorses i dont own one but i but want to now.

Johnd879 May 1, 2014 at 5:24 pm

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