Why do male seahorses become pregnant and give birth to children that are not females?

Unlike other sea creatures, seahorses have very different reproductive characteristics. The males will be pregnant and will spawn offspring.

Unlike other sea creatures, seahorses have very different reproductive characteristics. The males will be pregnant and will spawn offspring.

Seahorse or walrus is the name of an animal that lives in tropical waters. They are usually 16cm to 35cm in length. Seahorses can be considered a fish because they have a full pectoral and dorsal fin. Seahorses usually eat small crustaceans like shrimp or fish by sucking them into their mouths. Seahorses can live in pairs but can also live in groups. When living in a herd, in addition to mating in the morning or at dusk, they spend the rest of their time feeding.

Picture 1 of Why do male seahorses become pregnant and give birth to children that are not females?
Seahorses usually eat small crustaceans like shrimp or fish by sucking them into their mouths.

Seahorses are closely related to the lime fish and sea arowana because the characteristic of this species is that males often perform the task of pregnancy and childbirth instead of the female's task. However, instead of keeping the seahorses in their bellies like the wombs of females, the male seahorse will "get pregnant" in a kangaroo-like pouch.

Why is pregnancy the "mission" of male seahorses?

There is a theory of why male seahorses are often pregnant.This is because the natural structure of the male seahorse helps to produce more baby seahorses and at a faster rate. Meanwhile, the female will transfer all the eggs that she has in the male pocket when mating.

So it takes more time to recover and create new eggs. A male seahorse can give birth to a baby seahorse on the same day and continue to carry on to the next litter after the female has accumulated enough eggs. Thanks to this assignment, the children have enough time to recover energy and produce more eggs instead of having to concurrently create tasks and raise seahorse.

Picture 2 of Why do male seahorses become pregnant and give birth to children that are not females?
The natural structure of the male seahorse helps to produce more baby seahorses and at a faster rate.

Before sending the eggs to the " supervised " male seahorse, the female used her energy to provide nutrients to the eggshell. The remaining task of the male seahorse is only to create a safe environment to grow the young seahorse.

To have children, seahorses have to mate first. Males and females will constantly swim around to flirt with each other with fins. They can play each other like that for a few days before mating.

Once they have agreed to mate, the female will swim close to the water and the male will follow. The female will then place the bright orange egg in the male's pocket through the hole at the top of the bag. After putting safe eggs inside, the male will release their sperm into them and proceed to close the bag. Eggs after fertilization will begin to develop into seahorses.

Now the mother seahorse's work is done. And seahorse will now play the role of caretaker and hatcher. The male seahorse's egg pouch is capable of adjusting the temperature, blood flow and salinity of the water to ensure the eggs have the best conditions for development.

Picture 3 of Why do male seahorses become pregnant and give birth to children that are not females?
Seahorse will now play the role of caretaker and hatcher.

The period of pregnancy is about 2-3 weeks. After about 20 days, the seahorse begins to grow eyes, a snout and a tail. In this time, the male seahorse often has to pay close attention to preserving the egg bag in front of the enemy.

The male seahorse will open the hole in the incubator bag and yank to force all the young seahorses to swim out. The thrust is very fast and looks very spectacular. In fact, some species of seahorses can produce more than 1 thousand baby seahorses at once.

After giving birth, the male horse do not need to do anything more for the seahorse. This time the seahorse will start a new life and must be independent, take care of themselves and avoid predators because now the parents will not protect the seahorse anymore.

Picture 4 of Why do male seahorses become pregnant and give birth to children that are not females?
The male seahorse will open the hole in the incubator bag and yank to force all the young seahorses to swim out.

Seahorses are so small that they cannot eat plankton like their parents. Therefore, the ability of the seahorse to live is therefore much lower. In addition, they tend to be swept away by ocean currents before they can attach themselves to rocks or corals to hide. At this time, many young seahorses become bait for other fish.

Male seahorses do not eat until several hours after birth. However, if the seahorse are still around, they may inadvertently become a delicious meal for the male seahorse. That's right, sometimes male seahorses eat their offspring too.

Like many other newborn fish, only a few out of hundreds of baby seahorses will be able to survive and become adult seahorses.

You can watch a video of the process of giving birth to the male seahorse below:

  • Seahorses - natural mothers
  • Pregnant male fish - Seahorses