D. S. Jordan & C. H. Gilbert, 1882
The dwarf seahorse (Hippocampus zosterae) is a species of seahorse. It is found in the Bahamas and the United States. Its natural habitat is subtidal aquatic beds. It is threatened by habitat loss. According to Guinness World Records, it is the slowest moving fish, with a top speed of about five feet per hour (152 cm per hour).
It is most often white in color but can range from tan, brown, yellow and green. In the wild, it often has small skin growths called cirri that resemble algae.
Like other seahorses, the dwarf seahorse has a head angled at right angles to its body and swims upright using its dorsal fin to propel it and its pectoral fins to steer. It grows to a length of between 2 and 2.5 cm (0.8 and 1.0 in) and its color ranges from beige, yellow, green, and black. It may have white speckles, dark spots or protrusions and is well-camouflaged, the coloring usually matching the gorgonian on which it is typically found. It can change color.
The dwarf seahorse is a lie-in-wait predator, feeding on anything of a suitable size that comes within reach. These fish are usually solitary or live in pairs. The males carry the developing young in a brood pouch for about ten days. Males maintain a small territory while females roam more freely.
The dwarf seahorse only reaches 2 inches (51 mm) and is not an aggressive feeder. Therefore, it is typically kept in small aquariums (5 to 10 US gallons (19 to 38 l; 4.2 to 8.3 imp gal)). The dwarf seahorse can be fed brine shrimp nauplii, although it will also eat copepods and other shrimp larvae. Because of its short digestive tract, food must be available to them all day, making it a difficult species to keep. Unlike most marine fish, it will readily breed in the aquarium. The seahorse fry can be kept in the same aquarium as the adults in a dwarf seahorse dedicated tank. The dwarf seahorse has a gestation period of 10–14 days and can live up to over 2 years in captivity. Though they are small in size, they are not the smallest seahorse, the Pygmy Seahorse (Hippocampus bargibanti) is smaller.