Short-Snouted Seahorse – Hippocampus hippocampus

The Short-Snouted Seahorse is a species in the family of Syngnathidae and thus belongs to the superclass of the bony fish. Sometimes it may be named as Hippocampus europaeus.

Short-Snouted Seahorse - Hippocampus hippocampus Osteichthyes bony fish diving canary islands species atlantic ocean
Short-Snouted Seahorse – Hippocampus hippocampus


Hippocampus hippocampus has a long, cylindrical body. This is covered by a corrugated skin bone armour. The belly is somewhat thicker and the head resembles that of a horse. When Hippocampus hippocampus is attached to a rope or a plant, it forms an S-shape. Numerous sprouts are scattered over its body. A distinctive sprout with which Hippocampus hippocampus can be distinguished from other sea horses is above the eye. The colouring is variable as it adapts to its surroundings.

It reaches a maximum length of 15cm.

Habitat and Distribution

The Short-Snouted Seahorse lives on a seabed with algae growth, ropes or in sea grass meadows. It can occur both on sandy or rocky ground. The only important thing is that there is something to hold on to. It is usually found in shallow water, down to a depth of about 20 meters.

While diving in the Canaries, Hippocampus hippocampus is rare to see, but also difficult to discover. So it is quite possible that there is more than you can see. In addition, they are sticking to a certain place for some time. Once you have found one, you can mostly rediscover it on another dive.

In general, the Short-Snouted Seahorse is spread from the North Sea, along the European coast, via the Azores, Madeira and the Canary Islands, along the African coast, all the way to Senegal.


Hippocampus hippocampus lives solitaire at the seabed. Mostly it sticks to algae, sea grass or ropes and moves, if at all, only over short distances.

Its diet consists of small crustaceans and plankton larvae.

The Short-Snouted Seahorse is able to adjust its colour to the environment. It can be yellow, red, green or black. Another speciality of Hippocampus hippocampus is that it fluoresces.


The reproduction period of the Short-Snouted Seahorse is between April and October. The females lay their eggs in the brood-bag of the male, which fertilizes them. The male then operates the brood care until the eggs hatch.
The Short-Snouted Seahorse is monogamous, at least for one season.

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