Re:Red seahorses: which species?

Pete Giwojna

Dear Don:

Yes, sir — the red Brazileros are indeed Hippocampus reidi. Ocean Rider considers the exact lineage of their fanciest, most exotic types (e.g., SunFires, Pintos and Fire Reds) to be proprietary information, so we can’t speculate about that. But I can tell you that the Fire Reds are indeed a different species than the Brazilero Reds (H. reidi).

Many aquarists have proclaimed Brazilians (H. reidi) to be the most colorful of all seahorses, and Ocean Rider’s strain of red Brazileros is no exception. Many of the Brazilero Reds I have seen are actually a brilliant orange as opposed to scarlet or crimson. Enhancing their appearance are the numerous small dark spots that are liberally sprinkled over their bright orange base color in many specimens.

The Brazilero is a very graceful, well-proportioned animal. It is a large, slender-bodied seahorse with a relatively long snout, all of which contribute to its elegant appearance. These rather majestic steeds are long-lived (when well cared for, they should enjoy a life expectancy of 5-7 years in captivity) and may eventually reach a length of 7-8 inches.

Two characteristics set Fire Reds apart from other Ocean Rider types: their substantial size and their unusual coloration. These blazing beauties are very large, solidly built seahorses, and boast the sort of fiery colors rarely seen in other seahorses. Think rhapsody in red, for the flaming finery sported by these ruddy rarities comes in various crimson colors such as scarlet, rust, ruby, maroon, purplish and the whole spectrum of reds. Their reddish base coloration is often highlighted with white diamonds, flecks and dots. Like the Brazileros, they are long-lived seahorses when provided with good care.

Several individuals that I have seen were a deep, rich, mahogany red with a lovely luster that made them look almost as if they had been polished to a high sheen. Some specimens are lustrous brown seahorses, a shade of auburn or henna, which appear to be blushing red over their entire bodies. Many show a strong orange component to their coloration, having a rusty radiance, while others are a bright red-orange or a russet red. Fire Reds seem to be more variable in the shade of red or orange they display than the red Brazileros.

The Fire Reds differ primarily from the Brazilero Reds in their size and shape. The Fire Reds are much more robust and solidly built than the Brazileros. They are deep-chested compared to the slender profile of the Brazileros, and the Fire Reds get considerably larger, growing up to 10 inches in length at maturity. I guess you could say that Fire Reds are built more like Clydesdales, whereas the more slender Brazileros are built more along the lines of thoroughbred race horses.

Both types are relatively colorfast and will retain their bright colors very well as long as conditions are favorable. And they would both thrive in the aquarium you describe, Don, which sounds like a superb system for seahorses!

Best wishes with all of your fishes, Don!

Happy Trails!
Pete Giwojna

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