Pipefishes / Seahorses

The family of Pipefishes and Seahorses, also known as Synganthiformes (derived from the Greek syn = with, and gnathos = jaw), have elongated, narrow bodies with tiny mouths located at the end of a tubular snout and facing upwards. The upper jaw is not protractile and the lower jaw is. The pelvic fins, in those species that have them, are in an abdominal position.

Generally slow movements, generated by very fast undulations (30-35 vibrations per second) of their pectoral or dorsal fins. This conditions the form and type of food consumed. Among their prey, they will be small prey and generally slower than they are. As for the way they capture them, they make a jaw movement that generates a suction that allows them to ingest the prey.

Mostly marine, there are several groups of species within this family that live among the seaweed, swimming with the body aligned vertically, to camouflage themselves among the Algae. Others, the Seahorses have prehensile tails that allow them to cling to Algae and rocks on the bottom.

They are quite unique in their reproduction. The female approaches the male and by means of a nuptial embrace that usually lasts between 30 and 50 seconds, she transfers the eggs to a membrane located in the male's abdomen. It is the male who will then take care of his offspring, which usually hatch after 10 days from the time the eggs were laid. The newly hatched fry are very small (15mm), but quickly develop to sexual maturity in just 90-100 days from birth. They usually live for 2-3 years. The size of this order of fish is between 25 and 30 cm.

There are 338 known species of Pipefishes and Seahorses, grouped into 8 families and 69 genera.