Significance to humans

Numerous species of this order are popular fishes sought out by recreational divers. Many are important aquarium fishes and, fortunately, are now reared in captivity. Their popularity stems from their complex and highly modified morphological features and ornate coloration as well as the particular breeding habits of various species, in which there are elaborate courtship rituals and males fertilize the eggs and carry the young (in most species). Gasterosteiforms typically are not consumed as food fishes, but some syngnathids are commercialized heavily as curios. In particular, seahorses and seamoths are made into souvenirs (even as Christmas ornaments) and used as ingredients in traditional Chinese and related East Asian medicines. Some 47 countries worldwide participate in the seahorse market, and the total global consumption of seahorses in 1995 was at least 20 million specimens, roughly more than 62 tons (56 metric tonnes). The seahorse trade is not sustainable as it is currently implemented, leading to fears that many populations of seahorses have been exploited past the possibility of recovery.

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