These two day old seahorses are just a few from our latest cohort of juvenile lined seahorses Hippocampus erectus. These youngsters require constant attention and therefore have a small tank all to their own. We currently have three separate systems – one for breeding adults, one for “teenagers” and a third for newborns – set up exclusively for raising seahorses to supply our exhibit tank and to potentially outsource to another aquarium. We have had enough success over the past few years to become involved in the lined seahorse Species Survival Plan, or SSP. AZA facilities across the country involved with the SSP breed seahorses in captivity and exchange broodstock to ensure the genetic diversity of the captive populations and more importantly to help reduce stress on wild populations; throughout their range populations of lined seahorses have declined steadily and are currently listed as “vulnerable” by the IUCN. These interesting and intelligent creatures have long been loved to death by those that desire them as pets or worse yet as dried up souvenirs. Seahorses are often caught as by-catch for other species, and like many near-shore species suffer from habitat loss, especially submerged vegetation
To give some perspective to the size of a newborn seahorse, I placed a pencil eraser ( ~1 cm) next to a juvenile seahorse swimming next to the glass front of our nursery tank.In the video you can also clearly see Artemia nauplii; the planktonic larvae of what are commonly called “brine shrimp”. Seahorses, especially juveniles feed almost constantly and require live food. The nauplii are hatched here continuously and are enriched with supplements to enhance their nutritional value, but they will soon be transitioned to a more varied diet.