Bullneck Seahorse, Hippocampus minotaur Gomon 1997

The holotype of the Bullneck Seahorse, Hippocampus minotaur. Source: Martin F. Gomon / Museum Victoria. License: CC BY Attribution


A rare seahorse known from very few specimens collected relatively deep waters off south-eastern Australia.

Cite this page as:
Dianne J. Bray & Vanessa J. Thompson, Hippocampus minotaur in Fishes of Australia, accessed 02 Dec 2022, https://fishesofaustralia.net.au/Home/species/1541

Bullneck Seahorse, Hippocampus minotaur Gomon 1997

More Info


Endemic to temperate waters of southeastern Australia - known only from off Eden, NSW and off Cape Patterson, Victoria; also reported from off Wollongong, NSW; benthic, inhabiting hard bottom substrates with fine sand on the continental shelf at 64-110 m.


Dorsal fin 7-?; Pectoral fin 10-11; Anal fin 4 or absent; trunk rings 12; tail rings 28-29.
Body very small, fleshy, somewhat laterally compressed, body rings not visible; head and neck large with little or no constriction between head and trunk; snout short, about one-third head length, without a bulbous tip; trunk deep, inferior and ventral trunk rings reduced or undeveloped, mostly obscured by fleshy covering; body smooth, except for large bumps dorsally in small individuals.
Spines absent, angles of some body ridges with rounded tubercles. Nuchal plate rounded, coronet low.
Dorsal fin tiny, fin base very short, supported by 1 trunk ring and 1 tail ring.


To 55 mm SL


Colour in life unknown.
In preservative, body overall cream to a brown, with tiny brown speckles.


Unknown, presumably preys on tiny zooplankton.


Males brood the eggs in a pouch on the underside of the tail. The female uses an ovipositor to transfer her eggs into an elaborate enclosed pouch under the abdomen of the male.


This very rare deep water species has only been collected in trawls and dredges.


International: Listed under Appendix II of the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES). As a result, the species is subject to the Convention.
Listed as Data Deficient on the 2007 IUCN Red List of Threatened species.
Australian Government Legislation: Marine Listed under the Federal Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act 1999).


The Bullneck Seahorse may cling to gorgonian corals, as the tubercles on the tail resemble gorgonian coral polyps.

Similar Species

H. bargibanti shares the lack of obvious body segments, a short snout, thick neck and the small size with H. minotaur, but differs in having prominent tubercles on the body, more trunk rings, fewer tail rings and a longer dorsal-fin base. In addition, H. minotaur has a distinct tail pouch, unlike the abdominal pouch of H. bargibanti.


From the Greek ippos = horse and kampe = curvature. The specific name minotaur is from the Latin Minotaurus, a mythical monster with the head of a bull and body of a man, referring to the contrasting massive bull-like head and graceful trunk and tail of this species.

Species Citation

Hippocampus minotaur Gomon 1997, Mem. Mus. Vic. 56(1): 246 [figs. 1, 2a, 3a-2], off Eden, New South Wales.


Dianne J. Bray & Vanessa J. Thompson

Bullneck Seahorse, Hippocampus minotaur Gomon 1997


Gomon, M.F. 1997. A remarkable new pygmy seahorse (Syngnathidae: Hippocampus) from south-eastern Australia, with a redescription of H. bargibanti Whitley from New Caledonia. Mem. Mus. Vict. 56(1): 245-253. PDF at BHL

Kuiter, R.H. 2000. Seahorses, Pipefishes and their Relatives. TMC Publishing, Chorleywood, UK, 240 pp.

Kuiter, R.H. 2001. Revision of the Australian Seahorse of the genus Hippocampus (Syngnathiformes: Syngnathidae) with descriptions of nine new species. Rec. Aust. Mus. 53: 293-340.

Lourie, S.A., A.C.J. Vincent & H.J. Hall. 1999. Seahorses: an identification guide to the world's species and their conservation. Project Seahorse. London UK. 214 pp.

Neira F.J., A.G. Miskiewicz & T. Trnski. 1998. Larvae of temperate Australian fishes: laboratory guide for larval fish identification. University of Western Australia press, Nedlands, Western Australia.

Pogonoski, J.J., D.A. Pollard & J.R. Paxton. 2002. Conservation Overview and Action Plan for Australian Threatened and Potentially Threatened Marine and Estuarine Fishes. Canberra, Environment Australia, 375 pp.

Pogonoski, J.J., Pollard, D.A. & Paxton, J.R. 2006. Hippocampus minotaur. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2006: e.T10077A3160625. http://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2006.RLTS.T10077A3160625.en . Downloaded on 05 October 2015.

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37282105

Biology:Males brood the eggs

Conservation:IUCN Data Deficient; EPBC Act Marine Listed

Depth:64-110 m

Habitat:Reef associated

Max Size:5.5 cm SL

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Species Maps

CAAB distribution map