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Seahorses are quite delicate fish and keeping them happy and satisfied in captivity requires much control, maintenance, and resilience.
Even though seahorses have a high mortality rate since there are so many things that can go wrong, it’s rewarding to know when you getting it right.
This will result in happy, robust seahorses with an overall positive change to their well-being.
Let’s take a look at some of the signs that indicate your seahorses are happy.
1. Healthy Appetites.
Even though seahorses are passive feeders they love food and will continuously eat if resources are being provided.
You see seahorses don’t have a stomach so they can’t ingest and store food for later use, instead, food is ingested dissolved, and expelled regularly.
A lack of appetite or a lack of interest in feeding is a good indicator that something is wrong since they are continuously burning energy and need to refuel.
Alternatively, a good appetite with the right amount of feeding intensity is sufficient evidence to show your seahorses are happy.
Seahorses can go through a whole lot of complications when in captivity. But the fact that they are simply able to feed properly is a good sign that all is well.
Never take feeding lightly, something that may appear simple is so significant to their well-being when in captivity.
2. Good Coloration.
Seahorses have a great feature in which they can change their appearance. This includes color, shade, and vibrancy depending on the circumstances they present with.
Seahorses change color using small, sack-like organs known as chromatophores, which are embedded in their skin.
Each chromatophore contains one of three or four pigments. Expansion or contraction of the chromatophores via tiny muscles results in different colors being displayed with varying intensity.
These chromatophores are controlled in two ways: by the nervous system or by hormones.
The nervous system is often used for control when faced with unexpected situations that require a fast response.
For example when they encounter predators or when they feel threatened their nervous systems kick in bringing about subtle tones and coloration great for camouflage.
However, hormones are also used for control and are required whenever the seahorses need to make themselves more visually appealing.
For instance, when courting and breeding they will appear to be more brighter and vibrant displaying great coloration.
This is also the case when they are happy and excited and they display their hearts on their outward appearance.
A happy seahorse will display their mental state in their overall appearance becoming more aesthetically pleasing.
3. High Activity Levels.
We all are so used to hearing the same narrative of seahorses being slow and inactive. While this is true to an extent, I would be lying to you if I were to say they are inactive.
At the same time, I’m not saying they are active long-distance swimmers.
I am saying that they are very active in their own unique way, displaying bursts of flamboyance and magical gestures that are not often seen by other fish.
This exuberance is often seen when they are healthy and happy, free of stress. It is quite a mesmerizing sight and a good indicator of their mental state.
I always say, that if keepers aren’t in awe of these magical creatures they doing something wrong.
After all, if taken care of and maintained properly they will reward you with great character and personality.
4. Good Posture.
I know that all seahorses have individual personalities and character traits but there are certain visible differences and changes in body language that display the mental health of an individual seahorse.
What I’ve noticed is that seahorses who are either sick, stressed, or threatened display a low profile with their head bent downwards.
This specific body language isn’t a problem but if continuous then it’s a viable indication that something is wrong.
Alternatively, you will distinguish that a seahorse that presents with a more upright posture seems more relaxed and at peace.
Posture is a good determining factor to check a seahorse’s state of health with a happy seahorse displaying a more poised, subtle, and free aura.
Pay careful attention to your seahorses and learn their natural movements and gestures. This will help you determine if something is wrong when they act out of character.
5. Visible Personalities.
You may be wondering, do seahorses even have personalities? The answer is yes!
These little feisty creatures display quite an array of attributes that can help distinguish their different personalities and character traits.
For instance, you will find the shy timid ones, just resting with their prehensile tails wrapped around a post.
While some other bold individuals will present themselves head-on with every encounter they may possibly have.
Having a good idea of individual personalities will help catch changes and uncommon behavior patterns when it does appear.
At least for captive-bred seahorses, who are gregarious and love socializing be it with humans or with their other counterparts.
This sociable nature can only be displayed if they are happy, after all, no one ever displays emotion other than that which they are feeling.
6. Enhanced Interaction.
We’ve seen that captive-bred seahorses are a lot more interactive and friendly compared to their wild-caught counterparts.
This speaks volumes about their suitability and compatibility of living in a closed system hence their success in being kept in captivity.
You see one of the main reasons why captive-bred seahorses do better in captivity is because they are more adapted and more comfortable in closed spaces.
Understandably so they will do better since they are less stressed and can get on with their daily routines as usual.
Actually, their interactive nature is an artifact of being domesticated in which they thrive on interaction and human involvement.
So if you notice active involvement and interaction when handling them know that it is a sign of their mental well-being.
When they aren’t well or distressed they will retrieve from everyone isolating themselves.
The fact that they are willing and inquisitive enough to interact is substantial evidence to show their happiness and contentedness.
7. They Are Healthy.
Healthy seahorses are happy seahorses! This is probably the most important sign that indicates the happiness of a seahorse.
Seahorses are prone to infections, parasites, and diseases that can cause havoc on their bodies leaving them distressed, weak, and compromised.
This not only affects them biologically but greatly affects their mental well-being.
If your seahorse is in good shape, with no open wounds, no signs of infection, no parasites, and are just casually enjoying themselves, I’m pretty sure they are happy.
After all, happiness is a feeling of pleasure that can be seen in whatever they do.
8. Steady Breathing Rhythm.
A seahorse’s respiration rate may fluctuate naturally throughout the day.
When they are feeding, actively courting, being handled, or excited in general, they always return to their normal resting respiratory rate afterward.
These are the normal breathing changes that occur on a daily basis, often followed by a steady breathing pattern.
This steady rhythmic breathing pattern is also an indication that all is well. It basically confirms that they are relaxed and at ease.
A stressed or affected seahorse will show signs of labored breathing, huffing, panting, yawning, or coughing behavior.
To correctly diagnose these issues you must familiarize yourself with the normal breathing rate of your seahorses so you can notice uncommon patterns earlier on.
Ultimately you should know that a healthy stable breathing pattern is a sign of contentedness showing that all is well.