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When it comes to a male potbelly’s pouch, size matters. Bigger is better for attracting females, so courting males pump their pouches full of water. One of the larger seahorse species, “potbellies” are found in the waters of New Zealand, Australia and Tasmania in sea grass beds and rocky reefs, or attached to jetties and man-made objects along the coast. They come in mottled colors ranging from white to deep browns or yellows and olive greens. The adults average 10 to 12 inches long.
As we continue to develop the coastlines, we sometimes destroy the potbellies’ natural habitats or tear down the ones we’ve built—leaving seahorses homeless. With no place to go, some potbelly populations face extinction.
In the world of seahorses, the potbelly is an oddball. While most seahorses live alone, potbellies sometimes gather in groups at night. While other seahorses hold fast to blades of sea grass, bits of coral or sponges, potbellies sometimes curl up in sandy hollows on the seafloor. They may not even form loyal pairs as most other species do.