We love animals. In fact, we love them so much that we geek out over learning little-known animal facts, and we suspect we're not the only ones. Every other Tuesday, we'll share a few fun animal facts with you from experts at zoos, parks and aquariums all over the country (and maybe even beyond). Since it's summer, we're focusing on animals of an aquatic nature.

10 Things You Don't Know About Seahorses

Today's expert: Mark Schick, Special Exhibit Collection Manager at Shedd Aquarium.

Schick has been working with Shedd and studying seahorses for over 15 years.

  • All seahorses live in saltwater; you'll never find one in freshwater.
  • Seahorses are fish, but they don't have scales. They're covered in bony plates that are similar to armor.
  • Seahorses are predators, but they don't have teeth. They have tube-like mouths with a sort of "trap door" so they can drop the floor of the mouth to increase volume, then they open and shut their jaw rapidly to draw in tiny organisms, such as plankton.
  • Full-frown seahorses range in size from around half an inch to a foot, while related species can grow to be three feet long.
  • It is the male seahorse that hatches the young. The female deposits eggs in a pouch in the male's belly, and when it's time for them to hatch, he'll hold something with his tail and make a movement that looks like he's doing crunches.
  • Baby seahorses are tiny replicas of adults, and once they're out of the pouch, they receive no parental assistance at all.
  • The internal structure of a seahorse is much different than other fish, mainly because they don't have much of an intestinal structure. What that means is that they process their food very quickly.
  • Adult seahorses at Shedd are fed 2-3 times a day, while young seahorses can be fed as often as 5-6 times a day. This makes them difficult to keep, and therefore not a wise choice for a home aquarium.
  • Seahorses generally live 3-5 years, although that will vary by species.
  • Although there are 30-40 species of seahorses, only three live off the coast of the United States.