Common Seahorse (Hippocampus kuda) Information

Common, Spotted, Yellow, Black, Vietnamese Seahorse.Information

The Hippocampus kuda seahorse is the Indo-Pacific region species.
The Indo-Pacific Hippocampus kuda seahorse has many colors. This H. kuda seahorse originated from Vietnam, and therefore is named a Black and Black Vietnamese Seahorse. Photo by Debbie and Stan Hauter

Without a doubt, with its "horse-like head" and erect body, the Seahorse is the most recognized fish in the world. The Seahorse "stands up" instead of laying flat as all other fish do. It propels itself through the water (very slowly) by vibrating its dorsal fin and steers with its tail.

Other oddities of this fish include the fact that the female inserts her eggs into the male's pouch where they are then fertilized and attach to the wall of the pouch where a placental fluid removes waste products and supplies the eggs with oxygen and nutrients as they mature into baby seahorses and, at the end of 20 to 28 days of pregnancy the male goes into labor, typically at night when there is a full moon.

The baby seahorses are then ejected from the male's pouch. The brooding pouch may contain anywhere from 20 to 1000 fertilized eggs.

Seahorses maintain a monogamous relation with one partner until the partner dies at which time the remaining seahorse finds another mate. The Spotted Seahorse becomes fully mature at about 14 weeks and can reproduce at that time. The mating ritual includes changing body color patterns, dancing, and making clicking sounds.

In the wild, the baby seahorses either become pelagic and ascend into the plankton layer on the surface of the ocean or descend to the bottom and attach themselves to algae, corals or other stationary objects with their prehensile tails and start feeding on small crustaceans as they drift by in the current. Not being strong swimmers, Seahorses greatly prefer to inhabit the calmer shallow waters in mangroves, coastal seagrass beds, estuaries, coastal bays and lagoons, harbors, sandy sediments in rocky littoral zones, and rivers with brackish water where there is seagrass or marine algae for them to hold onto.

The Common Seahorses which have, for one reason or another been unable to make it to the shallows near land, has been found up to 20 kilometers off shore, floating in the plankton layer at the water's surface, with their tails wrapped around debris or pieces of floating algae

The seahorse has many natural predators which it evades with its ability to change its colors to blend in with almost any background.

In the wild, their numbers are diminishing steadily. Seahorses are used as medicine in many Asian countries.


  • Family: Syngnathidae (Seahorses, Pipefishes, and Leafy Seadragons)
  • Subfamily: Hippocampinae

Species: Hippocampus kuda (Bleeker, 1852) is the accepted name for this seahorse that has many other species synonyms.

Common Names:

Common, Spotted, Yellow, Black, Vietnamese Seahorse.


This is a wide-ranging Indo-Pacific seahorse that inhabits waters from Indonesia to the Philippines, Pakistan and India to southern Japan, Hawaii, and the Society Islands, but it might be possible that variations of this species may also reside in other areas outside of the Indo-Pacific region.

Average Size:

This Seahorse attains a height of almost six inches.

Characteristics and Compatibility:

H. kuda seahorses range in color from black to orange and yellow. Black individuals often have silvery stripes or other markings on the body, and sometimes unique yellow individuals can be dotted with red spots. A protective trait that this and many other seahorses have is the ability to change color to match into their surroundings. It is not unusual for them to take on the coloration of a favorite object one has decided to adopt as a hiding place.

They prefer stationary perches they can wrap their tails around, and should not be kept with anemones or corals that possess large stinging tentacles.

Not being a strong swimmer, the Kuda does much better in an aquarium with very little current. It also seems to do much better in a taller aquarium where it can drift up and down and attach to hold fasts and wait for its food to drift by, which it sucks up and swallows whole (seahorses do not have teeth). The DIY Seahorse Aquarium was specifically designed to give Seahorses the area for vertical motion which they seem to prefer.

Potential tank mates for the Kuda would include non-aggressive feeders such as Mandarinfish.

Diet and Feeding:

Seahorses should be fed live or (if they will take it) vitamin enriched frozen or freeze-dried mysid shrimp.

Seahorses should be fed several times per day with food available for 20 to 30 minutes per feeding. Wild caught Seahorses may be slow to accept frozen or freeze-dried mysid shrimp as food to begin with and may have to be fed live foods until they are weaned onto prepared foods. Tank raised Seahorses are normally trained to accept frozen or freeze-dried mysid shrimp at an early age and will make the transition to your tank much more easily than wild caught.