Sea Horse Reproduction

By Maddie Plum


The seahorse is found in many different locations around North and South America. Seahorses live in shallow tropical warm water.  They can be found living along the coral, the sea grass, and the mangroves. Many of the larger species of seahorses are living in the Mediterranean Sea. Many species of seahorses are very territorial. The
males often have about 11 square feet of territory. The females have up to 1,100 square feet. When you see damaged coral reefs in these places, you will find that some professionals have put artificial corral into them. The goal is to help the seahorse and other living creatures to be able to use that habitat for their own survival.

Pregnant Seahorse


The male immediately works to settle the eggs and will soon after,
fertilise them. Gestation period can vary because it depends on the temperature.
At 18°C, gestation is 30 days. If the temperature is higher, then the gestation
period will be shorter, and the opposite for colder temperatures. During gestation, the male will become more and more self-centred and unsociable, as for his pouch it will grow fuller and become darker.

Seahorse eggs


Seahorse development happens internally, (viviparity). The female leaves her eggs in the male’s abdominal pouch. This is where the eggs are fertilized and grow.  The males protect, aerate, osmoregulate, and nourish the growing embryos for several weeks before releasing them into the ocean as independent young seahorse. Having the baby seahorse grow internally is an advantage to the seahorse. Because they live in water, it is not safe for eggs to be floating around. If it is inside the body it is much more protected. The Seahorse grows inside so it is safe and protected and can't drift away from the mother and father.

After the Mother has inserted her on average 1500 eggs, the male carries the eggs for 9 to 45 days. (Varies for different species) This is until the seahorses emerge fully devloped but still very small. Once the seahorses have been released into the water, the male's role is done. He offers no further care and most of the time mates again within hours or days during the breeding season.


In Seahorse reproduction males are the ones that become pregnant. They become pregnant for several weeks before giving birth to their offspring.  When they prepare to give birth, the pouch the baby grows in extends to an almost spherical shape.  The male also has muscular contortions - forward and a backward bend. These last for about ten minutes.  Then, in an explosive action the baby leaves the pouch.  After the last young seahorse has left, the pouch returns to its normal size and position. This normally takes about an hour.  Males can and are ready to re-mate within a few hours of giving birth.


Sexual Maturity

In general the male seahorses reach sexual maturity just before females. This varies though for the different species and sizes.

Breeding Season

The length of the breeding season and the time of the year in which it occurs in
varies between species and can be affected by nutrient availability and the temperature. Once males are sexually mature, they start to look for a mate.

Parental care

Once the baby seahorse is out and about, the male and female don't have a big role in parental care. Shortly after birth, the baby learns how to find food and swim and everything like that. The baby sticks with the parents for a while but eventually leaves and lives it's own life.


National Geographic. (1996-2013). Retrieved September 15, 2013, from Seahorse:

Ashley Sprengeler, S. B. (2008). Seahorse
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Ashley Sprengeler, S. B. (2008). Seahorse
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Cook, L. (n.d.). Reproduction in Sea Horses.
Retrieved September 15, 2013, from Seahorse:

Natural History Mag. (n.d.). Retrieved September 15, 2013, from Seahorses:

Seahorse Habitat. (n.d.). Retrieved September 15, 2013, from Seahorse facts and

Wikipedia. (n.d.). Retrieved September 16, 2013, from Seahorse:

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