Spotlight on Moya

The last two weeks’ Tuesday Tank posts have spotlighted Kirin (who, sadly, passed away unexpectedly over this last weekend) and Vega, two of my female seahorses.

Today, I’m giving the boys a chance to shine, with the story of Moya.

15L14 Moya


Moya wasn’t one of the four baby seahorses I bought from the breeder last December to re-populate the reef. He actually arrived the following January. When the breeder learned that one of the four original seahorses had a birth defect, they sent a replacement–a shy little seahorse I named Moya:

15L14 Moya and Vega


After only a few weeks in the reef, I realized Moya was male, but didn’t change his name.

Male seahorses are the ones who get pregnant (a true pregnancy, which occurs after the female deposits eggs in the male’s pouch) and bear the young. They go through labor (contractions and all) and give birth to a clutch that can contain over 300 baby seahorses.

For this reason, the males tend to be more shy than their female counterparts, and Moya is no exception.

15K16 Moya


His favorite spot is the shaded interior of a cave that lies near the bottom on the right side of the reef.  Although he’s willing to let other seahorses join him there, he rarely ventures out of the cave when the lights are on, except to hunt for food, and even at night he only leaves to join the other seahorses on the sea fan where they sleep as a herd.

15C02 Moya


In his juvenile months, Moya swam around much more, and it was common to see him sharing a feeding bowl with Magellan or one of the others.

15L14 Moya and Kirin feeding


Now, he only swims in the open as part of the mating ritual, which involves an elaborate “dance” in open water.

15L14 Moya on fan


Despite his shyness, Moya isn’t frightened or unhappy. In fact, he’s had his choice of mates, since he’s the only fertile male on the reef. Kirin claimed him as her mate as soon as she reached adulthood (and since she was the dominant female, he didn’t object to her attentions). However, Moya also mated regularly with Vega–Kirin’s less-dominant sister–and seems to have a stronger attachment to Vega (as evidenced by the fact that he goes behind his “mate”‘s back to mate with another female, which closely pair-bonded seahorses don’t normally do).

15L06 Vega and Moya


Now that Kirin is gone, it will be interesting to see whether Moya develops a complete pair-bond with Vega, and what impact that bond will have on their behavior. I’ll be watching…and I’ll let you know what I see.