Talk:Seahorse Development

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Cite this page: Hill, M.A. (2021, May 9) Embryology Seahorse Development. Retrieved from

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Syngnathidae Development

<pubmed limit=5>Syngnathidae Development</pubmed>

Seahorse Development

<pubmed limit=5>Seahorse Development</pubmed>

Pipefish Development

<pubmed limit=5>Pipefish Development</pubmed>

Seadragon Development

<pubmed limit=5>Seadragon Development</pubmed>

Common Name - Seahorse


Early development of the longsnout seahorse Hippocampus reidi (Syngnathidae) within the male brood pouch

J Fish Biol. 2018 Jun;92(6):1975-1984. doi: 10.1111/jfb.13631. Epub 2018 May 15.

Novelli B1, Otero Ferrer F2, Socorro JA1, Molina Domínguez L1.


Fertilized and unfertilized eggs and embryos of the longsnout seahorse Hippocampus reidi were collected at different stages of development and provided the basis for a description of morphological development from fertilization until release from the paternal pouch. Images of fertilized eggs, as well as their rupture after a few minutes in seawater are reported for the first time. The yolk sac transitioned from ovoid to spherical shape and was reabsorbed progressively until release. The tail began rising from the surface of the deuteroplasm while embryos were in the egg envelope. Embryos lacked a primordial fin fold and developed some species characteristics, such as rays in the dorsal fin, before resorption of the yolk sac. At release, juvenile seahorses were in an advanced stage of development even if they lacked important adult characteristics, such as ring plates and coronet. The tail was not prehensile in juveniles at release; a small caudal fin was present, although this fin is lost in adults. KEYWORDS: embryo; embryonic development; fertilized eggs; hippocampus; indirect development; metamorphosis PMID: 29660108 DOI: 10.1111/jfb.13631


Fish Physiol Biochem. 2017 Jun;43(3):833-848. doi: 10.1007/s10695-017-0339-2. Epub 2017 Jan 25. Development of short-snouted seahorse (Hippocampus hippocampus, L. 1758): osteological and morphological aspects. Novelli B1, Otero-Ferrer F2,3, Socorro JA2, Caballero MJ2, Segade-Botella A2, Molina Domínguez L2. Author information Abstract Information about early development after male release lags behind studies of juveniles and adult seahorses, and newborn seahorses, similar in shape to adults, are considered juveniles or fry. During early life, Hippocampus hippocampus present behavioural (shift in habitat, from planktonic to benthic) and morphological changes; for this reasons, the aims of this study are to define the stage of development of H. hippocampus after they are expelled from the male brood pouch and to establish direct or indirect development through an osteological analysis. The ossification process was studied in 120 individuals, from their release to 30 days after birth. To analyse the osteological development, Alcian Blue-Alizarin Red double staining technique for bone and cartilage was adapted to this species. At birth, H. hippocampus presents a mainly cartilaginous structure that ossifies in approximately 1 month. The bony armour composed of bony rings and plates develops in 10 days. The caudal fin, a structure absent in juveniles and adult seahorses, is present at birth and progressively disappears with age. The absence of adult osteological structure in newborns, like coronet, bony rings and plates, head spines and components allowing tail prehensile abilities, suggests a metamorphosis before the juvenile stage. During the indirect development, the metamorphic stage started inside brood pouch and followed outside and leads up to reconsider the status of H. hippocampus newborns. KEYWORDS: Coronet; Indirect development; Metamorphosis; Newborn seahorse; Osteological development; Seahorse larvae PMID: 28124205 DOI: 10.1007/s10695-017-0339-2

Country Species
Cuba Hippocampus erectus
Malaysia Hippocampus erectus
Malaysia Hippocampus histrix
Malaysia Hippocampus kuda
Malaysia Hippocampus spinosissimus
Malaysia Hippocampus barbouri
Malaysia Hippocampus comes
Azores Islands Hippocampus histrix
Puerto Rico Hippocampus reidi
St Helena Hippocampus erectus
United Kingdom Hippocampus guttulatus

Table data from Fishbase.[1]



Standardised classification of pre-release development in male-brooding pipefish, seahorses, and seadragons (Family Syngnathidae)

BMC Dev Biol. 2012 Dec 29;12:39. doi: 10.1186/1471-213X-12-39.

Sommer S, Whittington CM, Wilson AB. Source Institute of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies, University of Zürich, Winterthurerstrasse 190, Zürich, CH-8057, Switzerland.


BACKGROUND: Members of the family Syngnathidae share a unique reproductive mode termed male pregnancy. Males carry eggs in specialised brooding structures for several weeks and release free-swimming offspring. Here we describe a systematic investigation of pre-release development in syngnathid fishes, reviewing available data for 17 species distributed across the family. This work is complemented by in-depth examinations of the straight-nosed pipefish Nerophis ophidion, the black-striped pipefish Syngnathus abaster, and the potbellied seahorse Hippocampus abdominalis.

RESULTS: We propose a standardised classification of early syngnathid development that extends from the activation of the egg to the release of newborn. The classification consists of four developmental periods - early embryogenesis, eye development, snout formation, and juvenile - which are further divided into 11 stages. Stages are characterised by morphological traits that are easily visible in live and preserved specimens using incident-light microscopy.

CONCLUSIONS: Our classification is derived from examinations of species representing the full range of brooding-structure complexity found in the Syngnathidae, including tail-brooding as well as trunk-brooding species, which represent independent evolutionary lineages. We chose conspicuous common traits as diagnostic features of stages to allow for rapid and consistent staging of embryos and larvae across the entire family. In view of the growing interest in the biology of the Syngnathidae, we believe that the classification proposed here will prove useful for a wide range of studies on the unique reproductive biology of these male-brooding fish.

PMID 23273265


Male pregnancy in seahorses and pipefish: beyond the mammalian model

Bioessays. 2007 Sep;29(9):884-96.

Stölting KN, Wilson AB. Source Zoological Museum, University of Zürich, Switzerland.


Pregnancy has been traditionally defined as the period during which developing embryos are incubated in the body after egg-sperm union. Despite strong similarities between viviparity in mammals and other vertebrate groups, researchers have historically been reluctant to use the term pregnancy for non-mammals in recognition of the highly developed form of viviparity in eutherians. Syngnathid fishes (seahorses and pipefishes) have a unique reproductive system, where the male incubates developing embryos in a specialized brooding structure in which they are aerated, osmoregulated, protected and likely provisioned during their development. Recent insights into physiological, morphological and genetic changes associated with syngnathid reproduction provide compelling evidence that male incubation in these species is a highly specialized form of reproduction akin to other forms of viviparity. Here, we review these recent advances, highlighting similarities and differences between seahorse and mammalian pregnancy. Understanding the changes associated with the parallel evolution of male pregnancy in the two major syngnathid lineages will help to identify key innovations that facilitated the development of this unique form of reproduction and, through comparison with other forms of live bearing, may allow the identification of a common set of characteristics shared by all viviparous organisms.

PMID 17691105


Male pregnancy in seahorses and pipefishes (family Syngnathidae): rapid diversification of paternal brood pouch morphology inferred from a molecular phylogeny

J Hered. 2001 Mar-Apr;92(2):159-66.

Wilson AB, Vincent A, Ahnesjö I, Meyer A. Source Department of Biology, University of Konstanz, Germany.


In contrast to the majority of vertebrate species, primary male parental care is common in fishes and encompasses a remarkable diversity of adaptations. Seahorses and pipefishes (Family Syngnathidae) exhibit some of the most specialized forms of paternal care in animals and so are ideally suited to the study of the evolution of male parental care. During mating, female syngnathids transfer eggs to specialized morphological structures that are located on either the abdomen or tail of the male. The male provides all postfertilization parental care and has morphological and physiological adaptations to osmoregulate, aerate, and even nourish the developing embryos. While all syngnathid species are adapted for paternal care, the brooding structure with which this is accomplished varies between species, from simple ventral gluing areas to much more complex structures such as the completely enclosed pouches of the seahorses. Our combined cytochrome b-, 12S rDNA-, and 16S rDNA-based molecular phylogeny of syngnathid fishes demonstrates that rapid diversification of male brooding structures has been associated with the major evolutionary radiation of the group, suggesting that development and diversification of structures involved in paternal care may have been key evolutionary innovations of the Syngnathidae. Molecular analyses also highlight geographical centers of biodiversity and suggest interoceanic migration of Syngnathus pipefishes from their center of origin in the Pacific.

PMID 11396574

  1. Froese, R. and D. Pauly. Editors. 2012. FishBase. World Wide Web electronic publication., version (12/2012).