Eggs are fertilized by the male and become embedded in the pouch wall as they are deposited into the brooding pouch by the female through the ovipositor (“Project Seahorse”, 2003). The male may carry between 20 to 1000 eggs in its pouch (Tchi Mi, Kornienko, and Drozdov, 1996). Although fertilized eggs contain a small amount of yolk, they undergo typical teleost egg cleavage and developmental processes, which lasts for approximately 20 to 28 days. Larval development stops one week prior to the time at which they are released into the open waters.
The timing of labor in males varies depending upon species, water temperature, monsoon patterns, and lunar cycles ("Project Seahorse", 2003). However, most males go into labor at night during a full moon. Males engage in vigorous pumping and thrusting motions for several hours to release the young. Juvenile seahorses emerge from the pouch as independent, miniature adults. The average length of H. kuda at birth is 7 mm.
In general juvenile seahorses can be distinguished from their adult counterparts by differences in body proportions (Lourie et al., 2004). Young seahorses have larger heads, slimmer, spinier bodies, and higher coronets. In captivity, H. kuda have been observed to reach full maturity in 14 weeks, growing at a rate of .9 to 1.53 mm per day (Job et al.,2002).
- Tchi Mi, P., E. Kornienko, A. Drozdov. 1996. "Embryonic and Larval Development" (On-line). Russian Journal of Marine Biology. Accessed November 19, 2004 at http://www.maik.rssi.ru/cgi-bin/search.pl?type=abstract&name=marbio&number=5&year=98&page=325.