People frequently ask us, "is a seahorse a fish?" When you think about it, it can get kind of confusing. One the one hand, the seahorse makes its home in the shallow areas of the sea, while on the other hand, it doesn't really look like a conventional fish. However, despite its unique characteristics and design, a seahorse is indeed a fish. Here's a look at why:
The official scientific title given to the over 50 different species of seahorses is Hippocampus. This comes from a combination of two ancient Greek words, hippos and kampos. Hippos means horse, which was given to the animal for its horse shaped head. Kampos means sea monster, and although seahorses aren't really aggressive at all, they can have a very unique and daunting appearance.
Seahorses are fish because they are cold blooded, meaning that their bodies depend on outside temperatures to regulate the internal temperature of their blood. Like other fish, a seahorse will have gills which allows it to breathe underwater. Gills work by extracting the oxygen that has been dissolved in the ocean water. Like land breathing organisms, fish release carbon dioxide in exchange for the oxygen.
Seahorses also have fins that help it swim underwater. However, the shape of a seahorse proves to be awkward for swimming, and they often have a hard time controlling their movements. In fact, did you know that baby seahorses are completely unable to control where the currents of the water take them? They are blown around for quite some time, during which they have to forage for the food that is around them. When seahorses swim, they swim up and down, rather than horizontally. Along with razor fish, seahorses are some of the only fish in the sea that can do this. Seahorses are classified as one of the slowest swimming fish in the sea. Their highest speed is about 5 feet pet hour! Can you imagine swimming that slowly?
So, in summary, is a seahorse a fish? Yes! They are just a very unique type of fish! Check out our other pages for some more facts on seahorses. Learning about these beautiful creatures is absolutely fascinating!