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Faking Pregnancies

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  • Offline ejbaer
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Faking Pregnancies

« posted: 5 years ago »
So, I have a male who I believe to be faking pregnancies.  It's happened on two other occations so far and I think he is doing it again.  I don't know if he is just trying to show the girls he's ready or what :P.  Anybody else experience this?
  • Offline rayjay
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Re: Faking Pregnancies

« Reply #1 posted: 5 years ago »
Unfortunately, many times.
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  • Offline TamiW
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Re: Faking Pregnancies

« Reply #2 posted: 5 years ago »
There are a few possibilities. The faking like you've noted. I'm pretty sure it happens. I'm not sure the reason why, but it seems to happen more with some males than others. I do know that the male pregnancy is driven by hormones just like in humans. (and weirdly, androgens play the same role as estrogen in seahorses.) So it's possible the fake pregnancies are hormone driven.

There is also the possibility of egg dumping. I haven't observed this behavior in a long time, but years ago I had a wild reidi that would egg dump. I thought he was faking until I witnessed the egg transfer. But no babies. Eventually I witnessed him dumping the eggs behind some rocks, which was strange, like he was trying to hide it. I never figured the cause; he'd carry some to term and some he wouldn't. Sometimes he'd have several successful pregnancies, other times dumping the eggs multiple times. The sad part was the eggs were fertilized and viable. I got some interesting photos and video at the time. And discovered you can't artificially incubate the eggs. (I now know it's because the pouch does more than just hold the eggs).

There is the possibility of reabsorption. Pipefish have been shown to definitively absorb eggs, and it's pretty well suspected seahorses do too; as we know only half their eggs are fertilized. The assumption is the other half are absorbed for nutrients for the father and the other eggs, but no one has done the same study yet to confirm it. So it's like 99% sure seahorses absorb eggs.

Whether or not they can absorb a whole brood is unclear. In the pipefish that absorb eggs, many things can trigger varying numbers to be absorbed. Nutrition and fitness is obvious, but in the pipefish studied, the quality of mate mattered. If the female was smaller, which is less desirable in pipefish terms, the male would absorb more eggs. I can't remember how the study came to the conclusion it was due to undesirability of the mate not viability, but they did distinguish it somehow.

At the syngnathid symposium, a number of aquarists and researchers suspected they could reabsorb a whole brood - they'd witness egg transfers but not have babies, and be in an environment where dumped eggs would be easy to observe.

Then there is the ominous possibility of the babies actually being born but being pulled into the filter before they're noticed. This can easily happen because the babies are so small. Even if you check the filter media, they break up rather quickly, so you may never have any idea.

And I still think there is the empty pouch fake pregnancy. I don't know whether it is showing off, or some sort of hormonal process gone astray. When I've seen it, they definitely get broody like a pregnant seahorse.

That doesn't answer your question, but I hope it gives some insight into what might be going on with your seahorses.
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  • Offline ejbaer
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Re: Faking Pregnancies

« Reply #3 posted: 5 years ago »
So, I guess I was wrong!  This time this particular male  was not faking and he totally caught me off guard :o.  Lots of babies in the tank and sump this A.M. I was able to recover about 40 of them.  Here we go with try 3 at raising the babies ;D.
  • Offline suew
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Re: Faking Pregnancies

« Reply #4 posted: 5 years ago »
Hi Eric,

Wishing you good luck with your unexpected babies,next time you see him like that he may be faking :o
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  • Offline sputnik
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Re: Faking Pregnancies

« Reply #5 posted: 5 years ago »
Yay for babies! Good luck.
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  • Offline TamiW
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Re: Faking Pregnancies

« Reply #6 posted: 5 years ago »
Congrats! I guess all that practice for him worked!
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Re: Faking Pregnancies

« Reply #7 posted: 4 years ago »
So, I guess I was wrong!  This time this particular male  was not faking and he totally caught me off guard :o.  Lots of babies in the tank and sump this A.M. I was able to recover about 40 of them.  Here we go with try 3 at raising the babies ;D.

Aww that's cute! Good luck on raising this time around! About how many did he have? And what was your success on the last pregnancies? Curious to know... Kudos.
  • Offline Elaine
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Re: Faking Pregnancies

« Reply #8 posted: 4 years ago »
How have the babies progressed?

I've noticed my males pouch goes the colour of him a golden colour when 'dancing/playing' and then goes dark to black when just doing everyday pony stuff.

I'm new to keeping the seahorses but am mesmorized by them, well worth the wait.
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Re: Faking Pregnancies

« Reply #9 posted: 4 years ago »
When they change colors like that, it's called "Flashing" colloquially. At least in the case of their pouches, it's to show how big and sexy their pouches can get. Because, even though they get pregnant, they still like to show off!!
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  • Offline HISPOIEMA
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Re: Faking Pregnancies

« Reply #10 posted: 4 years ago »
I have been reading through a few posts here and I find it funny that terms such as, "pony" and "hitching" are used. Are these the actual terms that the scientists (marine biologists?) use as well?
 It almost makes me want to see the little guys wearing tiny little bridles, reins, and saddles.  :P
  • Offline suew
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Re: Faking Pregnancies

« Reply #11 posted: 4 years ago »
I don't know about  pony,but I would think that you can say the sh hitching is a word that we would all use.
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  • Offline TamiW
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Re: Faking Pregnancies

« Reply #12 posted: 4 years ago »
Hitch as a verb is one I've seen used in scientific literature along with holding and grabbing, but hitching post isn't - usually it's hold fast. There is definitely a lot of horse lingo associated with seahorses. To be honest, most of it gets on my nerves, it's far to cutesy. But I'm probably a bit of a curmudgeon about that stuff.  ;D Although I certainly find myself doing it from time to time, it's clearly infected my brain too.
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  • Offline lhick082
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Re: Faking Pregnancies

« Reply #13 posted: 4 years ago »
Good luck with the babies! My male just did the same thing. I was so excited for my first try at raising the fry. I was anxiously waiting but then one day his belly was flat again and there we no babies in sight.  I had changed to a sponge filter to avoid sucking up the fry ahead of time so he must of been preparing or trying to impress like many have already mentioned. I have noticed them holding tails and chasing each other around and leaving the rock surfaces to go in the water column so it looks like maybe soon (fingers crossed) he will have eggs to fertilize for real! Good luck!
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