Aside from their unusual, upright bodies – as compared to most species of marine life – the Seahorse also has a unique swimming technique. This technique allows the Seahorse to move around the coral reef and feed off of small crustaceans.
As babies they eat about 3,000 pieces of food per day. This food is microscopic! If you have ever seen a baby brine shrimp – also called Artemia, this is the size that they eat for the first week or so – and they are tiny!
They then advance to a bit larger species of zooplankton as their mouths get larger as they grow. They eventually get to a size where they are able to eat prey like Mysis Shrimp.
As adults they can eat between 30 to 50 times per day. Their prey are not super fast swimmers, but they are also not the slowest swimmers either. So the Seahorse needs to be able to propel itself forward and backward fairly effortlessly and quickly while also having the ability to move up and down easily in order to catch it’s prey. Although they mostly find a good spot to hang out on and eat the food as they swim by them. This helps them conserve their energy. Also, they are not the fastest swimmers.
The Seahorse swims upright using it’s dorsal fin to propel it’s body forward. In order to move their bodies up and down, they adjust the air in their swim bladders. The swim bladder in the Seahorse is an effective mobility feature for the “armor-plated” body of the Seahorse.
In order to move downwards, the swim bladder let’s the gas out and in order to move upwards, the organ increases the amount of gas inside of the swim bladder. As they learn how to swim, they become very efficient at it and are actually really effective hunters. They learn how to use their abilities while preserving the most amount of energy as possible. It’s a really unique experience to watch them hunt and feed!
Pretty neat, huh? Before reading this article, how did you think the Seahorse swam?