Given their unique appearance, unusual swimming style and the fact that the males become pregnant; seahorses are perhaps the most charmingly enigmatic group of all fishes.
Chester Zoo has a long history of successfully keeping and breeding seahorses. We currently keep two species; the beautifully coloured Longsnout Seahorse Hippocampus reidi, which are on display in the Aquarium, and the Common Seahorse Hippocampus kuda, which are housed in off-show facilities. Our aquarists are experts at breeding Common Seahorses and we distribute babies to other zoos and aquariums across the world.
All our seahorses eat tiny marine invertebrates, some of which are no bigger than a pin-head! However, even these food items are too big for planktonic baby Longsnout Seahorses, which eat microscopic zooplankton in the wild.
Our aquarists are developing techniques for rearing baby Longsnout Seahorses. In the future we hope to apply these specialist skills to breeding and rearing two species of seahorses found in UK waters; the Short-snouted and Maned Seahorses. Both of these species are part of a managed European Breeding Programme (ESB).