Is it okay to keep Seahorses as pets?
Lots of people enjoy aquariums, especially salt water tanks. It can be really fun and relaxing to watch fish swimming gracefully around various plants and statues. It takes our minds off our troubles for a few moments. While there are a host of colorful fish and creatures that are available for home aquariums, there’s one in particular that always fascinates people above the others. This is the tiny seahorse. It’s a diminutive fish that is the cause of a multitude of legends and myths throughout history. The seahorse, belonging to the genus Hippocampus, taken from the Greek language. Hippo means horse and campus means an animal of the sea. In ancient Rome, they thought that the god Neptune rode in a chariot that giant seahorses pulled through the ocean.
But the seahorses we know are not giant, but small and delicate appearing. Instead of scales like most fish, they have a series of bony plates forming a sort of armor. Their nose is long and slender, reminiscent of a horse. They are a tropical fish that like warmer temperatures like the Mediterranean sea and they also have the ability to change colors to blend in with their surroundings. This makes them able to avoid predators and sneak up on their prey easier. Some seashorses have little filaments or stringy-looking parts flowing off their bodies so that they will blend in even better with the plants they swim among.
Seahorses are very unusual in their reproduction habits. The male has a pouch where the female lays her eggs. The male fertilizes them inside the pouch and it’s up to him to incubate the babies until they hatch. The clutch size varies between the different species, but there could be as many as several hundreds in a single brood. That’s a lot of baby seahorses, but the reason is because they are easy targets for fish, so the hope is that at least some of the babies will survive to maturity.
Now, is there anything wrong with keeping these amazing and beautiful little creatures in your aquarium? You can buy them in many aquarium supply stores, so what could be wrong with getting a few? Well, first of all, seahorses in the wild are becoming threatened due to water pollution and perhaps worst of all, from capture. Because of their popularity, people are capturing them in increasing amounts so that aquarium lovers can have them. There are actually millions each year taken from the sea, not just for decorative and interesting additions to aquariums, but also for folk medicine ingredients in Asia where they seahorses are caught by the bucket full, allowed to slowly suffocate and dry out and then crushed into a powder. Without proper regulations in some countries, the seahorse population is declining so fast that they can’t recover.
The fact that they are being driven to an endangered status simply means that they are not a good fish for an aquarium. There is no point in contributing to the problem. If you are set on obtaining seahorses, please make sure that the store you purchase from only sells captive bred seahorses. At least this way you won’t be taking them from their natural habitat. Better still, find some other interesting fish that aren’t being threatened from over harvesting. You can enjoy a beautiful aquarium full of fish, without harming the environment.