Which Foods Does a Seahorse Eat?

The seahorse only eats food that floats by because it is a weak swimmer.
The seahorse only eats food that floats by because it is a weak swimmer. (Image: Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

The seahorse is a fish found in shallow, tropical waters. It is the only animal in the world in which the males bear unborn babies. An adult can grow up to 14 inches in length, and the animals live in groups called herds. The seahorse is a carnivore and has a specific diet and eating habits due to its physical features.

Feeding Habits

The seahorse has no teeth or stomach. The food it eats passes through its digestive system very quickly. This means it must constantly eat to stay alive. It isn’t a strong swimmer so it can’t catch its prey. Instead, it gets into an eating position by wrapping its tail around sea grasses and coral. It then uses its elongated snout like a vacuum and sucks in food that floats by. Baby seahorses can feed up to 10 hours a day.


The seahorse lives on crustaceans. Its main food source is brine shrimp. A young seahorse can eat up to 3,600 brine shrimp a day. Other crustaceans it eats includes caridean shrimp, mysid shrimp, amphipods and peracarids. Amphipods tend to be eaten most in spring and summer. The crustaceans are swallowed whole or are dissolved in the snout as they’re sucked up.

Other Food

Seahorses also supplement their diet with plankton. Other foods include larval fish, copepods, side swimmers and bottom-dwelling invertebrates.

Pet Seahorse Diet

A pet seahorse that has been captured in the wild will need a diet of live food. If the seahorse has been born in captivity, it can adapt to eating frozen food. Brine shrimp is an important part of any pet seahorse’s diet. Other live food can include rotifers, ghost shrimps, isopods, cleaner shrimp larvae and livebearer fry. Frozen food can be krill, daphnia and enriched brine shrimp. The animal is a slow feeder so if it’s in a tank with aggressive feeders it may starve. Owners should make sure their seahorse has enough food.

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