Seahorses as Pets: Price, Lifespan, and How to Keep Them Healthy

A beautiful yellow longsnout seahorse in a classic pose with his tail wrapped around some sponge. The creature was shot in the wild by a scuba diver on the reef in the Cayman Islands
© Drew McArthur/Shutterstock.com

Written by Alanna Davis

Published: February 27, 2024

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Have you ever wondered if you could own a seahorse as a pet? If so, you’re in luck! Keeping seahorses in captivity is something anyone with the proper tools and education can do. With the right care, these animals can thrive in captivity. If you’ve decided to purchase one of your own, we’ll help make this process easier. Let’s discuss current prices for pet seahorses and explore ways you can ensure that they live a healthy and long life.

Seahorses: A Brief Introduction

Slender seahorse

Surprisingly, male seahorses are the ones who get pregnant and give birth.

©Marcos del Mazo/Shutterstock.com

Seahorses are adorable, tiny fish that got their name from the shape of their head and neck. Currently, there are 46 species of seahorses recognized globally. However, only a fraction of these species will be suitable to keep captive. Good candidates for pet life are slender seahorses, lined seahorses, longsnout seahorses, and Barbour’s seahorse. These species are small and don’t require a huge tank, which will make the transition into owning these animals much easier. It is recommended to get one species and stick to it rather than have a variety of different seahorses cohabitating in one tank. That being said, make sure you’re certain about the seahorse you’re buying before committing to it!

How Much Do Seahorses Cost?

purple seahorse in the water on aquarium in oceanarium.

Believe it or not, seahorses are actually fish.

©paulzhuk/Shutterstock.com

It might seem obvious, but if you want to keep seahorses of your own, it’s going to be somewhat expensive. On average, you can expect to pay somewhere between $50 and $250 per seahorse. Where the price falls within this range depends on factors such as the specific species of the seahorse and availability in your local area. In addition, finding reputable sellers can be challenging because these aren’t mainstream aquatic pets. Be sure to do thorough research before purchasing these animals.

How Long Do Seahorses Live?

If properly taken care of, seahorses can live a full and happy life. However, not much is known about their natural lifespan in the wild due to a lack of observation and research. According to Project Seahorse, captive seahorses can live anywhere between one and five years. How long your pet seahorse lives will be influenced by the specific species you buy, and larger seahorses are more likely to live for a longer duration in comparison to smaller species.

How to Set Up Your Seahorse’s Tank

Animals That Dance

Some seahorse species are monogamous.

©Bernard S Tjandra/Shutterstock.com

If you’ve never owned seahorses before, setting up their environment might seem intimidating. However, taking care of them is relatively easy if you have the right tools! To start, make sure you purchase a new tank to keep your seahorses in instead of adding them to a tank with other fish already living in it. It is recommended to buy these animals in pairs as they are social animals and thrive around others of their own kind. For an in-depth guide of appropriate tankmates, you can read more on Seahorse.org.

The best tank size for your seahorses will depend on the size of the seahorse species you choose. At a minimum, seahorses should have a 20-gallon tank to swim around in. For larger species, consider grabbing a 50-gallon tank instead. In addition, if you wish to keep more than one pair of seahorses, additional tank space will be necessary. Consider these things when budgeting for your initial setup.

How to Care For Your Seahorse

 A beautiful yellow longsnout seahorse in a classic pose with his tail wrapped around some sponge. The creature was shot in the wild by a scuba diver on the reef in the Cayman Islands

The smallest seahorse in the world grows to be just 14mm long.

©Drew McArthur/Shutterstock.com

Some essentials you’ll want to get for your seahorse tank are a lighting system, food, relaxed tankmates, and a variety of tank decorations and hiding places for your seahorses. In fact, it’s very important to add hitching posts to your tank so that your seahorse can have places to latch itself onto. As with any fish tank, a proper filtration system is essential. This will help ensure that the water is of good quality for your pets, and in turn, they’ll be able to live a happy and long life. Seahorses eat frequently, so it is essential to change the water filter frequently as well. The temperature of your tank will depend on the seahorses you have. In order to be fully prepared, it’s best to do proper research on the specific needs of the species of your seahorses before bringing them home.

Final Thoughts

Whether you’re keeping seahorses as a hobby, or you’re a die-hard seahorse fanatic, owning seahorses can be a fun and rewarding journey. Many owners say that these aquatic animals have the ability to interact with their owners in ways that other fish can’t. Because of this, humans are able to forge deeper bonds with them. As long as you budget properly and educate yourself about your specific seahorse’s needs, you’ll be just fine.


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About the Author

Alanna is a writer at A-Z Animals primarily covering insects, animals, and travel. In addition to writing, she spends her time tutoring English and exploring the east end of Long Island. Prior to receiving her Bachelor's in Economics from Stony Brook University, Alanna spent much of her time studying entomology and insect biology.

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