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A leafy seadragon floats through the water at Shedd Aquarium.

Seahorses and Seadragons

These small, armored, tube-snouted fishes live in coral reefs and other sheltered, shallow habitats around the world. Male seahorses and seadragons would vie for Father of the Year awards. The male seahorse gets pregnant, carrying the female’s eggs in his pouch until he gives birth in an explosion of miniature adults. The male seadragon carries 100 or more developing eggs on a brood patch on his tail.

A Tiger Tail Seahorse wraps its tail around a branch.

A fish like few others

Shedd is home to several species of seahorse, and a few of their cousin seadragons, each as unique as the last. The scientific name for the seahorse, Hippocampus, comes from the Greek words meaning "horse" and "monster," but these gentle animals are actually fishes!

They’re poor swimmers, so they latch onto seagrass and corals with their prehensile tails and wait for food to drift by them, sucking up their meal with their tube-like snout.

A few years ago, the Shedd Aquarium Animal Health team took a video with an endoscope of sea horse babies inside this male’s pouch as part of an exam. In the animal world, seahorse males are the ones who get pregnant.

A pair of weedy seadragons swim together at Shedd Aquarium.

Moving with mates

Seahorses are one of the few fishes that mate for life, performing a sort of dance every day to renew their bonds.

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“You would never think of them as predators, but they are one of the most efficient in the sea. With their slow-moving, camouflaged bodies they lie in wait for the small crustaceans they hunt. ”

Mark Schick, Director of Exhibit Development

Barbour's Seahorse

Lined Seahorse

Potbelly Seahorse

Weedy Seadragon

Longsnout Seahorse

Shortsnout Seahorse

Northern Seahorse