Animal Species:Pygmy Seahorse, Hippocampus bargibanti Whitley, 1970
As its name implies, the Pygmy Seahorse is a tiny fish. It lives on gorgonians (sea fans) of the genus Muricella.
Standard Common Name
The Pygmy Seahorse has a short snout, rounded knob-like coronet and irregular bulbous tubercles on the body. It has a rounded spine above each eye and on each cheek.
Two colour morphs are recorded for this species, one is pale grey or purple with pink or red tubercles, the second is yellow with orange tubercles.
The Pygmy Seahorse grows to 2 cm in length.
This species is known from coral reefs of the Western Pacific including Australia.
The map below shows the Australian distribution of the species based on public sightings and specimens in Australian Museums. Source: Atlas of Living Australia.
Distribution by collection data
The species is found only on gorgonians (sea fans) of the genus Muricella, in depths of 16 m to 40 m.
Other behaviours and adaptations
It is remarkably well camouflaged. The colour of the fish matches the gorgonian it inhabits, and the body tubercles look very similar to the polyps of the gorgonian.
- Kuiter, R.H. 2000. Seahorses, Pipefishes and their Relatives. A Comprehensive Guide to Syngnathiformes. TMC Publishing Pp. 240.
- Kuiter, R.H. 2001. Revision of the Australian Seahorses of the Genus Hippocampus (Syngnathiformes: Syngnathidae) with Descriptions of Nine New Species. Records of the Australian Museum. 53: 293-340.
- Lourie, S.A., Vincent, C.J. & H.J. Hall. 1999. Seahorses. An Identification Guide to the World's Species and their Conservation. Project Seahorse. Pp. 214.
- Reijnen, B.T., et al. 2011. Fish, fans and hydroids: host species of pygmy seahorses. ZooKeys 103: 1–26.
- Whitley, G.P. 1970. [Bargibant's sea-horse from New Caledonia] in Abstracts of Proceedings. Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales. 94(3) No.421:294.
Mark McGrouther , Collection Manager, Ichthyology