Seahorses have been highlighted as an endangered species due to their
declining numbers in their natural habitats. The voting placed the genus
Hippocampus on the endangered species list and now protects them from
importation; there are about 50 known species of seahorses included in the
Common misconceptions place the blame for the decline of wild seahorses on
their collection for aquarium trade and for Asian medical purposes, both of
which are untrue. The primary reason, in fact, is the destruction of their
natural habitat. A typical seahorse habitat is common to shorelines and
subtropical areas. These areas are being overdeveloped for their appeal to
humans; this influx of people has increased the amount of pollution and
freshwater run-off. Making matters worse, each species is dependent on
limited and specific ecosystems that may only be found in fixed
geographical locations, further increasing the threat of extinction.
Recently, a number of aquaculture facilities have begun the captive
breeding and raising of various species of seahorses. These facilities have
not only served as an alternate source for seahorses for the aquarium
trade, they have provided an increased knowledge of the requirements needed
by these fish.
There are many advantages to buying tank-bred seahorses, some of which
Feeding - A seahorse that is raised in a tank will accept freeze-fried food
more willingly that wild ones. The poor success with feeding is the main
reason that wild seahorses are not good choices for aquariums.
Breeding - Tank-bred seahorses have spent their entire life under aquarium
conditions and will breed more frequently and successfully than the wild
Health - Tank-bred seahorses are also less likely to carry disease or
parasites, which are common with wild harvested organisms.
Price is a drawback, however. Tank-bred seahorses are usually twice the
price than the wild harvested ones; this is particularly due to the labor
that is involved in breeding and raising seahorses.