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H. angustus x H. erectus Hybrid Seahorse fry – first ever crossing

Posted on Thursday, May 12th, 2011 at 10:00 am by

I’m very happy to report that over the last three days, my Hippocampus erectus seahorse named Kohala has given birth to about 26 healthy fry! His mate and the mother of his babies is a Hippocampus angustus named Marmalade. I acquired Marmalade about a year ago as a wild-caught seahorse from West Australia. She was accompanied by five other Aussie wild caught seahorses, as it was my plan to introduce two Aussie species into the captive-bred seahorse market in the U.S. Unfortunately, the divers caught same-sex pairs of three different species. Marmalade is now the only survivor of the Aussies I had imported. She is a jewel of a seahorse, beautiful, friendly, and healthy. I decided to pair her with Kohala, a stunning yellow male H. erectus that I raised from birth.

As far as I know, this is the first time these two species have been hybridized. Honestly, I wasn’t sure if it was even possible, since they are so different. H. erectus is from North America, H. angustus is from the complete opposite side of the world in West Australia. The two species are separated by millions of years of evolution. This is why seahorse taxonomy is so messy. Seahorses laugh in the face of taxonomists, lumpers and splitters alike!

I know hybridization can be a hot-button topic. In general, I don’t agree with creating hybrids. Take hybrid cichlids for example. Two different species with different inherent behaviors and traits crossed together can make some very confused and often deformed hybrids. Releasing invasive hybrids into the wild can wreak havoc on local ecology. Things seem to be a little different in the marine breeding hobby, though. People who own hybrid marine species may be slightly less likely to dump them into their local waterways when they grow too large for their tanks. I don’t look forward to marine fish hybridization becoming as commonplace as it is in the freshwater hobby, but I’ve seen some really cool hybrid clownfish like Sanjay’s Black Photon Clownfish.

I’m curious; what are your thoughts on hybridization in the marine aquarium hobby, readers? Leave us a comment!

Felicia has been keeping aquariums since the early 90s and has a keen interest in taxonomy, aquaculture, and seahorses. she is the former Liveaquaria Diver's Den photographer and now works for Philadelphia area's largest aquarium specialty store The Hidden Reef.

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2 Responses to “H. angustus x H. erectus Hybrid Seahorse fry – first ever crossing”

  1. reefman says:

    can’t wait to see these!!

  2. Martin Moe says:

    In my opinion… Artificial hybridization,as a tool for domestication and creation of animals and plants for human use has been a component of civilization for many thousands of years, and in that role it is very useful in both commercial and ornamental agriculture and aquaculture. However, like all other “tools of civilization”, it must be employed with great responsibly to the environment and to human populations. Basically, given the state of science and the world today, all we can do is to be knowledgeable and responsible about what we do and transfer as much of this as we can to others with the same interests. So I commend your work and I think you have an obligation to keep us informed and continue to spread the knowledge and concern, as you are doing.

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