Seahorse Facts for Kids

Michele Meleen
Yellow seahorse

A seahorse is a unique tiny fish with a horse-like face and a curved body that lives in oceans around the world. These small sea creatures are cute and crazy looking, which makes them so fascinating. Learning facts about seahorses is fun and interesting.

General Information

While there are many kinds of seahorses, most have some things in common that distinguish them as a species.

  • Sea Horses
    The scientific name for a seahorse is Hippocampus and there are an estimated nearly 50 species of these tiny sea creatures around the world.
  • Seahorses only live about one to five years in their natural habitat.
  • Due to their use in Asian medicine, seahorses are listed as vulnerable, which is one step away from endangered.
  • Because they are so small and helpless, only about one out of a thousand baby seahorses grows into an adult.
  • Each seahorse species has a different number of plated rings down the length of its body.
  • To further distinguish them from one another, each seahorse has a slightly different part on top of their head called a coronet.
  • Males sometimes fight for a female's attention by tail wrestling.

Habitat and Diet

The curious lifestyle and adorable look of seahorses make them ideal fish for large displays at aquariums and zoos. Even though they don't look very dangerous or like predators, seahorses are meat-eaters. They are experts in camouflage and have great patience as they wait for prey to swim or float by before sucking it up.

  • Seahorses live in warm water near coasts around the world.
  • They like shallow water because there are lots of plants to hold onto.
  • Seahorses typically live in coral reefs, mangroves, or seagrass meadows.
  • They stay within a few yards of their homes for their entire lives.
  • Although they are small and seemingly harmless, seahorses are carnivores.
  • A seahorse can eat up to 3,000 brine shrimp each day.
  • Seahorses eat by sucking food through their snout like a vacuum.

Family Life

Researchers have spent decades discovering the peculiar way seahorses mate and live. Many of the seahorse's mating and family practices differ from other fish.

  • A group of seahorses is called a herd.
  • A baby seahorse is also known as a fry.
  • Each seahorse chooses one mate and stays with that mate for its entire life.
  • Two sea horses
    Although seahorses choose a mate for life, the mates live in separate territories and meet up every morning to perform a ritual dance.
  • The male seahorse carries eggs in a pouch on the front of his body until the eggs are ready to hatch.
  • One male seahorse can hatch thousands of babies at once.
  • Seahorse eggs take 45 days to hatch.
  • Newborn seahorses connect to each other using their tails. This helps them survive in open water.
  • Once a baby seahorse hatches, it must survive without help from the parents.

Physical Attributes

Seahorses may be small and strange in appearance, but the way they look helps them survive in the dangerous oceans.

  • A seahorse can be as small as half an inch long or as tall as 14 inches.
  • Seahorses swim in an upright position, unlike other fish, who face horizontally.
  • A fin on the back of the seahorse's head helps it move forward by fluttering at a speed of 35 times per second. The pectoral fin also helps it move in different directions.
  • Seahorses move in different directions using tiny pectoral fins on the back of their heads.
  • Seahorses have curly tails that help them hold on to underwater plants, so they can catch food or preserve energy in rough waters.
  • The swim bladder is an air pocket inside the seahorse's body. He can release or add air to the bladder when he wants to move up or down.
  • Seahorses are masters of camouflage and can change colors to match their surroundings.
  • They can move one eye at a time like the chameleon.
  • A seahorse has no teeth and can't digest food; the food disintegrates when he eats it.
  • Seahorses are not good swimmers even though they live in the ocean.
  • Unlike other fish, seahorses have bony plates covering their bodies instead of scales.
  • Seahorses make sounds when eating, similar to a person smacking their lips.
  • Because they are poor swimmers, seahorses attach to floating objects as a way to travel long distances.

Types of Seahorses

While all seahorses are similar in shape, different types of seahorses can be different sizes and colors.

  • The smallest known seahorse species is the pygmy seahorse and it is smaller than a fingernail.
  • Sea Dragon
    The largest seahorse is the big-bellied seahorse which can be over one foot tall.
  • In the last decade, scientists discovered more than a dozen new seahorse species.
  • Seahorses can be short-snouted or long-snouted.
  • Leafy sea dragons are a close relative of the seahorse, but they have flowing, leaf-like arms and legs.

Seahorse Resources

If you love learning about seahorses, check out these additional activities and images:

  • Watch videos about the rescue and release of a seahorse named Cheeto from the Clearwater Marine Aquarium.
  • Learn from close-up photos of seahorses and watch a male seahorse give birth on Active Wild.
  • Younger learners will love the classic picture book structure of Seahorses by Jennifer Keats. The book shares facts about these tiny creatures while readers follow what life looks like for a baby seahorse as it grows.
  • Create a sea life coloring sheet, choose a seahorse coloring page, or learn to draw a seahorse at Hello Kids online.
  • Educational publisher Scholastic offers a seahorse lesson plan with activity extension and book recommendations.

Discover the Seahorse

Fun facts, videos, books, and expert research help kids learn all they want to know about some of the sea's cutest creatures. These tiny fish are full of unique traits waiting to be discovered. Help kids get excited about an ocean education and conservation with interesting information.

Seahorse Facts for Kids