The Big Bellied Seahorse (Hippocampus abdominalis) is also called the Pot-Bellied Seahorse. It is found in the oceans of New Zealand and southeast Australia. It is one of the largest seahorses in the world. It is a teleostfish.
The Big Bellied Seahorse is beige-brown, mottled with yellow-brown and darker blotches. Its tail often has yellow bands. It has a protruding stomach. It has a forward tilt, a long nose, and a long, coiled tail. Males have a smooth, soft pouch-like area at the base of their abdomen, with a small fin. Females have a pointed stomach and a larger fin at the base of the abdomen.
Each eye moves separately, enabling them to see their predators from all directions.
It grows to about 35 centimetres (14 inches) tall.
It prefers to live among algae, seagrasses, and rocky reefs in shallow water. It may attach itself to sponges, jetty piles, and other objects in the water, using its tail to wrap around the object.
It eats seaweed and plankton. It does not chew its food. It sucks ups planktonic animals in its small mouth (like a vacuum cleaner). It also eats crabs, shrimp, and other small aquatic animals.
The Big Bellied Seahorse swims using its dorsal fin, keeping its vertical position.
Courtship involves a series of colour changes and postural displays. Males lighten their pouch in colour to white or light yellow, while also brightening their overall body colour, typically to yellow.
The female transfers her eggs to the male. She squirts her eggs through the opening in the front of his dilated pouch. The male looks after the young. The male seahorse broods 300-700 young at a time.
Photographer: Martina Nicolls
Martina Nicolls: SIMILAR BUT DIFFERENT IN THE ANIMAL KINGDOM