Aquarium Celebrating Year Of The (Sea)Horse

Big bellied seahorse in weed

Deep Sea World, Scotland’s national aquarium, is creating its own marine-themed celebration of the Chinese New Year.

2014 is officially the Year of the Horse, however aquarists at the North Queensferry aquarium are showcasing the aquatic world’s equine equivalents – in the shape of seahorses.

A dozen Australian big belly seahorses, six males and six females, arrived on a flight from Bristol this week to form part of a new breeding population.
The 12 seahorses were all bred at Deep Sea World’s sister aquarium in the west of England.

Deep Sea World’s Tina Coventry said: “We wanted to join in the celebrations for the Chinese New Year and thought setting up a new breeding programme for these amazing fish would be a great way to start 2014.

“Hopefully it won’t be too long before the seahorse settle in and begin pairing off. I understand one of the characteristics of the horse in Chinese culture is that they form lifelong partnerships and the same is true of seahorses which tend to remain with the same partner throughout their lives,” she added.

The Australian pot-belly or big-belly seahorse is one of the largest seahorse species in the world and can grow to more than 30cms in length. Like  other seahorses it is thought they mate for life. The fish get their name because of their prominent bellies which are shared by both males and females.

Pot-belly seahorses are also among the longest lived seahorse species. In the wild it is quite common for individuals to live for up to nine years and it is believed they can survive even longer in captivity.

The Chinese zodiac, known as Sheng Xiao, is based on a 12-year cycle. Each year in that cycle has an animal sign: rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog and pig.  The Horse is the seventh sign of the Chinese zodiac and is apparently characterised by an enthusiastic, independent and impulsive approach to life.


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