The Curious Nature of Seahorses

After three years as a seahorse-keeper, I still never tire of watching these odd little creatures explore their environment. 

Seahorses are curious creatures by nature, a fact that can get them in trouble on the reef. Like small children, they “explore” the world around them as much through touching and tasting as with their eyes.

Everything is either grabbed:

14B10 Cyg grabbing

Or tasted … or both.

14B10 Cyg and Ceti in unison

Many times, I look over and see a seahorse with its snout pressed up against the rocks, examining something inside a hole. They love to feed on the little live gammarus (small crustaceans) that live in the rocks, so any movement down a hole is a source of immediate interest.

The seahorses also investigate new corals, mostly to see whether anything edible might be hiding inside.

14B10 Ghillie

Unfortunately, the seahorse has a relatively delicate tail (it’s armored on the back, but on the front, it has almost a skin-like texture because it’s prehensile) and a low resistance to infection, so cuts and stings that wouldn’t faze a different fish can prove fatal. For this reason, most seahorse keepers (myself included) design the entire reef around the seahorse’s needs and tendencies, including only species that won’t do harm and don’t mind being grabbed on a regular basis.

This takes some extra time and effort, and means I can’t have many of the classic coral and fish that inhabit reefs. It’s all worth it, however, when I see the seahorses out and enjoying their watery home.

14B10 Upside down ceti

Have you ever had a special needs pet? What extra steps do you take to keep it safe and happy?