Animal Species:Bigbelly Seahorse, Hippocampus abdominalis Lesson, 1827
The Bigbelly Seahorse has a low coronet, and as the common name implies, adults have very big 'bellies'. They live in a variety of habitats including shallow areas of seagrass to deeper sponge gardens.
Standard Common Name
Eastern Potbelly Seahorse
The Bigbelly Seahorse has a low coronet, and as the common name implies, adults have very big 'bellies'.
The colouration of the Bigbelly Seahorse is variable. It can be brown, orange, white, yellow, grey or even mottled. It sometimes has dark spots and long filaments on the head or body. The colouration appears correlated with habitat.
It grows to about 18 cm in length.
The Bigbelly Seahorse looks similar to the Potbelly Seahorse, Hippocampus bleekeri. The two species can be separated by the Bigbelly Seahorse's shorter snout, the more common presence of head filaments in the Potbelly Seahorse, and their disjunct distributions.
It occurs in Australia and New Zealand. In Australia it is only known from the central to southern coasts of New South Wales.
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 Bigbelly Seahorse lives in a range of habitats from shallow areas of seagrass to deeper sponge gardens.
- Edgar, G.J. 1997. Australian Marine Life; the plants and animals of temperate waters. Reed Books. Pp. 544.
- Hutchins, B. & R. Swainston. 1986. Sea Fishes of Southern Australia. Complete Field Guide for Anglers and Divers. Swainston Publishing. Pp. 180.
- Kuiter, R.H. 1996. Guide to Sea Fishes of Australia. New Holland. Pp. 433.
- Kuiter, R.H. 2000. Coastal Fishes of South-eastern Australia. Gary Allen. Pp. 437.
- 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, A.C.J.& H.J. Hall. 1999. Seahorses: an identification guide to the world's species and their conservation. Project Seahorse, London. Pp. 214.
Mark McGrouther , Collection Manager, Ichthyology