Fish Physiology and Biochemistry

, Volume 40, Issue 3, pp 739–750 | Cite as

The effect of diet on ontogenic development of the digestive tract in juvenile reared long snout seahorse Hippocampus guttulatus

  • J. PalmaEmail author
  • D. P. Bureau
  • J. P. Andrade


Ontogenetic development of the digestive tract and associated organs in long snout seahorse Hippocampus guttulatus juveniles was morphologically and histologically examined from the time of release from the male’s pouch until 72 h after the first meal. When released from the male’s pouch, juvenile seahorses are small adult replicates. This means that unlike other teleost fish larvae, the first developmental phase has already taken place, and juveniles are morphologically prepared and able to feed on live prey immediately following parturition. At this stage, the buccopharynx, oesophagus, and intestine already appear to be fully developed. The intestine is divided into the midgut and hindgut by an intestinal valve, and intestinal villi are visible in the midgut. When fed with DHA-Selco® enriched Artemia, H. guttulatus juveniles developed a severe condition of overinflation of the gas bladder. The continuous overinflation of the gas bladder forced air into the gut (48 h after the first meal), resulting in overinflation of both the gut and the gas bladder (72 h after the first meal), and death occurred within 120 h after the first meal. When fed natural copepods, H. guttulatus juveniles continued a normal feeding activity with no signs of intestinal disorders, and the gas bladder and intestine maintained their normal shape. This is the first study to positively associate gas bladder overinflation of juvenile seahorses with nutritionally unbalanced diets, and not to gas supersaturation alone. It is therefore necessary to develop more adequate feed and/or enrichment products to improve the survival of juvenile seahorses in captivity.


Ontogeny Histology Digestive system Diet Long snout seahorse Hippocampus guttulatus 



Jorge Palma was supported by a postdoctoral grant (Foundation for Science and Technology—Portugal, BPD/34816/2007). We thank the reviewers for their valuable comments.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.CCMAR, FCTUniversidade do AlgarveFaroPortugal
  2. 2.UG/OMNR Fish Nutrition Research Laboratory, Department of Animal and Poultry ScienceUniversity of GuelphGuelphCanada

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