Highcrown Seahorse, Hippocampus procerus Kuiter 2001

Other Names: High-crown Seahorse

A female Highcrown Seahorse, Hippocampus procerus. Source: Dave Harasti / http://www.daveharasti.com/. License: All rights reserved


The Highcrown Seahorse, found only in Queensland, has a very distinct tall and backward-directed crown (coronet) with five sharp spines on top.

Video of a Highcrown Seahorse on the Gold Coast Seaway, southern Queensland.

Cite this page as:
Dianne J. Bray, Hippocampus procerus in Fishes of Australia, accessed 07 Jun 2020,

Highcrown Seahorse, Hippocampus procerus Kuiter 2001

More Info


Endemic to tropical waters of north-eastern Australia, from Hervey Bay northwards to at least Port Curtis and possibly into the Gulf of Carpentaria, Queensland. Inhabits inshore mixed algal reefs from about 3 to 20 m.


Meristic features: Dorsal fin 17-19 (rarely 17); Pectoral fin 16-18 (rarely 16, usually 18); trunk rings 11; tail rings 34-35; subdorsal rings 2 + 1.

Head long, snout long, almost half head length. Coronet very tall and strongly angled posteriorly, with 5 moderately large sharp spines at the apex and additional spines on the anterior face near base of coronet.

Subdorsal spines 3/0-1,1,0-1; spines of moderate size at nose, above eyes, and laterally on head and spines present on back of neck (neck spines low in large males); spine above eyes equal to pupil diameter; lateral head spine moderate, directed laterally; small spine perpendicular to nape; moderate spine behind eye; 2 separate low spines below eye; shoulder-ring spines of moderate length, uppermost near top of pectoral fin base, central spine near bottom of pectoral fin base, lowermost spine double, directed ventrally, the more anterior of the two small and poorly developed. Lateral line with pores detectable to about 19th tail ring.


Height to more than 110 mm.


In life - trunk pale yellowish-white ventrally, dusky brown with black scribbles and numerous tiny white spots dorsally above lateral trunk ridge, continuing over tail; snout dusky with irregular thin white barring; brownish-black shading ventrally on eye and snout; dorsal fin with a dusky longitudinal line through middle of fin. In preservative - overall brown with fine dark scribbles or pale saddle-like markings.


Carnivore. Like most other seahorses, this species presumably feeds by sucking small prey items such as crustaceans and planktonic zooplankton into its mouth.


The sexes are separate, and males give birth to tiny independent young. The female uses an ovipositor to transfer her eggs into an elaborate enclosed pouch under the abdomen of the male. 

The male not only fertilizes the eggs inside the pouch and provides physical protection for the developing embryos, he also osmoregulates and aerates the embryos and may provide some nourishment until the offfspring are born.


Although occasionally taken as bycatch in trawls and dredges, this species is not traded in in the aquarium or Asian Traditional Medicine industries.


CITES Listed - 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, http://www.cites.org/.

EPBC Act: Marine Listed under the Federal Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act 1999). http://www.environment.gov.au/epbc/species/marine.html


Similar Species

Hippocampus procerus has been confused with H. tristis and H. whitei. H. procerus is more similar to H. whitei, differing in having a taller and more spiny coronet, higher fin-ray counts, and a generally more spiny body. The two species do not have overlapping distributions. The known distribution of H. procerus overlaps with that of H. tristis in southern Queensland.


The specific name procerus is Latin for tall, slender or long, in reference to the tall coronet.

Species Citation

Hippocampus procerus Kuiter 2001, Rec. Aust. Mus. 53: 328, fig. 40, Fairway Buoy, Hervey Bay, Queensland, Australia.


Dianne J. Bray

Highcrown Seahorse, Hippocampus procerus Kuiter 2001


Hoese, D.F., D.J. Bray, J.R. Paxton & G.R. Allen. 2006. Fishes. In Beesley, P.L. & A. Wells. (eds.) Zoological catalogue of Australia. Volume 35. ABRS & CSIRO Publishing: Australia, 2178 pp.

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.

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.

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37282122

Conservation:EPBC Act Marine Listed; CITES Listed

Depth:1-20 m

Habitat:Reef associated

Max Size:11 cm (height)


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Species Maps

CAAB distribution map