Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Gasterosteiformes (sea horsespipefishes)
Family: Syngnathidae  (seahorses, the pipefishes, the pipehorses, and the leafyruby, and weedy seadragons all have fused jaws)

Genus/species: Hippocampus ingens

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: Their color is variable and can change their body color, depending on the environment. Body colors include maroon, yellow, and muddled brownish-green. adults have thin close set scrubby lines along the head and body.
The tail prehensile and flexible and able to coil around seagrass and other objects.

Length up to 12 inches long.

DISTRIBUTION:HABITAT: Southern California to Peru including the Galapagos Islands. Found on temperate reefs clinging to sponges, branching coral, sea-whips and inhabits weed beds, usually at depths of 1—20 m (3.28-65 ft).

DIET IN THE WILD: Small shrimp, mysids and other plankton. Seahorses lack teeth and jaws instead suck prey through their tube-like snouts.

REPRODUCTION: H. ingens males and females perform a mating “dance” by bobbing up and down together lasting for three days. Finally, a male will display his empty breeding pouch, which the female will fill with eggs using her ovipositor. Males carry fertilized eggs in a brood pouch for 2-3 weeks up and then releases up to 1000 hatched individuals.

LIFESPAN: Estimated range is 3-5 years. The Pacific Seahorse’s camouflage abilities are its best defense to avoiding predation.

PREDATORS: Pacific Seahorses are also known to be associated with flotsam as it has been collected at the surface and from the stomachs of the Pacific Yellowfin Tuna and Bluefin Tuna.

Declines result from targeted catch, incidental capture, and habitat degradation from coastal development. Once caught, H. ingens are used throughout Latin America for curios, occasionally in traditional medicine, and in the live aquarium trade. The vast majority are exported internationally for use in traditional medicine.

REMARKS: Academy individuals were captive raised in the Cabrillo Aquarium, Cabrillo, CA.


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