Although originally acquired as a mate for my large male seahorse, Cygnus, the little female we named Ceti took a shine to the smaller male (Ghillie) instead. This wasn’t entirely accidental. Cygnus regarded the tank’s new additions as “buddies” to hitch his tail to. But Ghillie, despite his diminutive stature, started romancing the little female even before he finished growing his little brood pouch.
Every time he saw her he changed from his usual black:
To colors that varied from peachy to grey to white:
As he shifted colors, he tucked his snout downward to give the illusion of greater size and a bigger chest. The position was more than a little entertaining – much like a bandy-armed toddler showing off “muscles” – but Ceti liked the attention nonetheless.
A few weeks later they started their mating dances. Seahorse mating involves a lot of sitting together, followed by swimming in circles, while the couple prepares for the female to drop her eggs into the male’s open pouch. (After seeing it twice, I’m amazed any seahorse reproduces at all.)
The first few times, Ghillie bobbled the transfer and Ceti’s eggs ended up in a pile on the gravel. He swam away in disgrace. Little Ceti hitched on a nearby rock and watched in distress as the hermit crabs snacked on seahorse roe – then sulked and rebuffed Ghillie’s futile attempts to make up.
Fortunately, seahorse memories aren’t that long, and by morning all was forgiven. Within three days, they were at it again – flirting and dancing as happily as before.
With luck (and some swimming lessons) we’ll be welcoming baby seahorses soon.