Pontoh`s Pygmy Seahorse, Hippocampus pontohi Lourie & Kuiter 2008

Other Names: Severns' Pygmy Seahorse, Sulawesi Pygmy Seahorse

Pontoh`s Pygmy Seahorse, Hippocampus pontohi, in Fiji, December 2018. Source: Mark Rosenstein / iNaturalist.org. License: CC by Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike


A brown pygmy seahorse scattered with white dots and sometimes with a marbled pattern, a bright red patch on the trunk, and a pale tail with brown bands.

Video of Pontoh`s Pygmy Seahorse at Bangka Island, Indonesia (as Severn's Seahorse, Hippocampus severnsi, which is a junior synonym of H. pontohi).

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2018, Hippocampus pontohi in Fishes of Australia, accessed 04 Dec 2022, https://fishesofaustralia.net.au/home/species/1533

Pontoh`s Pygmy Seahorse, Hippocampus pontohi Lourie & Kuiter 2008

More Info


Recorded in Australia from Milin Reef, Great Barrier Reef, off Cairns, Queensland. Elsewhere the species occurs in the tropical East-Indo-west Pacific, from Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Solomon Islands, Fiji and the Ryukyu Islands, Japan.

Inhabits coral reefs, usually clinging in pairs to a variety of invertebrate hosts including coralline algae, bryozoans, hydrozoans and gorgonian corals (octocorals) - especially the coralline algae Halimeda and the hydroid Aglaephenia cupressina. The various host species were studied by Reijnen et al. (2011).



An extremely small seahorse: height 13 mm, standard length 15 mm.




Pontoh`s Pygmy Seahorse a relatively active pygmy seahorse and is commonly seen in pairs. Males brood the developing embryos, and two pregnant males each contained 11 embryos (Lourie & Kuiter 2008).



Listed on CITES Appendix II

Data Deficient on the IUCN Red List of Threatened species.


Hippocampus severnsi is a junior synonym of H. pontohi. However, H. pontohi, may be a junior synonym of Coleman's Seahorse, H. colemani (Lourie et al. 2016).

Similar Species


Named in honour of Hence Pontoh, the Indonesian dive guide who first brought these pygmy seahorses to the attention of the authors.

Species Citation

Hippocampus pontohi Lourie & Kuiter, 2008, Zootaxa 1963: 61, Figs. 2B, 3B, 4B. Type locality: between Alung Banua and Cela Point, Bunaken, North Sulawesi, Indonesia, 1°37'07" to 1°36'47"N, 124°45'30" to 124°46'03", depth 15.2 m.


Bray, D.J. 2018


Australian Faunal Directory

Pontoh`s Pygmy Seahorse, Hippocampus pontohi Lourie & Kuiter 2008


Allen, G.R. & Erdmann, M.V. 2012. Reef fishes of the East Indies. Perth : Tropical Reef Research 3 vols, 1260 pp.

Gomon, M.F. & R.H. Kuiter 2009. Two new pygmy seahorses (Teleostei: Syngnathidae: Hippocampus) from the Indo-West Pacific. aqua, International Journal of Ichthyology 15(1): 37-44.

Hamilton, H., Saarman, N., Short, G., Sellas, A.B., Moore, B., T. Hoang, T., Grace, C.L., Gomon, M., Crow, K. & Simison, W.B. 2016. Molecular phylogeny and patterns of diversification in syngnathid fishes. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 107: 388-403 + supplement 1-4 + 5. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ympev.2016.10.003 Abstract

Kuiter, R.H. 2009. Seahorses and their relatives. Seaford, Australia : Aquatic Photographics pp. 331. (as Hippocampus pontohi & H. severnsi)

Lourie, S. 2016. Seahorses. A life-size guide to every species. The University of Chicago Press, Chicago, pp. 1-160.

Lourie, S.A. & Kuiter, R.H. 2008. Three new pygmy seahorse species from Indonesia (Teleostei: Syngnathidae: Hippocampus). Zootaxa 1963: 54-68. (as Hippocampus pontohi & H. severnsi). 

Lourie, S.A., Pollom, R.A. & Foster, S.J. 2016. A global revision of the seahorses Hippocampus Rafinesque 1810 (Actinopterygii: Syngnathiformes): taxonomy and biogeography with recommendations for further research. Zootaxa 4146(1): 1-66. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.11646/zootaxa.4146.1.1Abstract

Pollom, R. 2017. Hippocampus pontohi. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2017: e.T107261198A54909454. http://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2017-3.RLTS.T107261198A54909454.en. Downloaded on 03 August 2018.

Reijnen, B.T., S.E.T. van der Meij & L.P. van Ofwegen. 2011. Fish, fans and hydroids: host species of pygmy seahorses. ZooKeys 103: 1-26. PDF Open access

Short, G., Smith, R., Motomura, H., Harasti, D. & Hamilton, H. 2018. Hippocampus japapigu, a new species of pygmy seahorse from Japan, with a redescription of H. pontohi (Teleostei, Syngnathidae). ZooKeys 779: 27-49. https://doi.org/10.3897/zookeys.779.24799 Open access 

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37282141

Biology:Males brood the eggs

Conservation:IUCN Data Deficient; CITES listed

Depth:8-25 m

Habitat:Reef associated

Max Size:17mmTL; height 14mm

Species Image Gallery

Species Maps

CAAB distribution map