MandarinfishFamily: CallionymidaeSynchiropus splendidusPhoto courtesy: Seth Weintraub
The Mandarinfish is one of the most striking of the smaller marine fish! It is probably the fish that is singly most responsible for enticing people into the marine aquarium hobby!
Mandarinfish usually move around a lot in search of food and are really beautiful and fun to watch. They are so cute when they "perch" on their pelvic fins on the bottom of the aquarium or the decor!NOTE: Mandarinfish do best in a well-established reef and are only recommended for experienced reef keepers. This is because they thrive only on a large and constant supply of live copepods: interstitial crustacians & worms.
For more Information on keeping this fish see: Guide to a Happy, Healthy Marine Aquarium
Maintenance/Foods: Mandarinfish are omnivores. They will usually eat live brine, bloodworms, and tubifex but this diet is usually not sufficient to keep them over the long term. In the wild they eat small crustaceans (and other benthic organsisms). The latest on some of the newsgroups is that each one needs anywhere from 75 to 150 pounds of live rock to survive. We have kept one in a 125 gallon reef that is doing fine and all he eats is whatever he finds on the rocks. With most fish variety is the key. Feed them anything they will eat and try lots of different things. Live brine, worms, formula I, and formula II, flakes, etc. The mandarin seems to only go for live food however. A mature aquarium with live rock really helps provide the natural food they need.
Habitat: Natural geographic location: The Mandarinfish are found in the Western Pacific from Java to Japan, the southern Barrier Reef, and the Caroline Islands. Usually found at depths of 1 to 18 meters.
Sex: Sexual differences: The males are somewhat larger than the females, have longer fins, and the first ray of the dorsal fin is about twice as long as the female's. The fish pictured at right above is probably a male since the dorsal fin is elongated.
The following breeding information was contributed by Aaron in our guest book:
"Mandarinfish only spawn in the evening and exhibit very unique mating behavior. If a pair of them are healthy enough, they will begin spawning occasionally just after lights out.
The male and the female approach each other and begin to "dance" in a spiral up the water column. They release sperm and egg as they rise. The spawn are planktonic for some time, but will grow to a couple mm in length in a couple days.
If there are other kinds of fish in the tank, the spawn should be isolated. I know this info is relatively general, but I have not personally mated Mandarins (I only have a large enough tank for one fish)."
For more information about recent concerns as well as mandarinfish breeding habits check this article at National Geographic.