Spotted Mandarin

Psychedelic Mandarin ~ Psychedelic Fish

Family: Callionymidae Picture of a Spotted Mandarin or Psychedelic FishSynchiropus picturatusPhoto courtesy: John Rice
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Hi, I live in Burnaby B.C. Canada and I find that the mandarin goby is bi-far more expencive than its counter part and its counter part is far more abundant than... (more)  Trevor

  The Spotted Mandarin, Psychedelic Mandarin, or Psychedelic Fish usually move around alot in search of food and are really beautiful and fun to watch. A nice addition, but recommended only for a well-established reef by an experienced reef keepers!

   This fish is very similar to the Mandarinfish but is less common. The Spotted Mandarin, Psychedelic Mandarin, or Psychedelic Fish are are much lighter green and have very little red in their coloration compared to the Mandarinfish.

   NOTE: Both the spotted and psychedelic mandarinfish thrive only on a large and constant supply of live copepods: interstitial crustacians and worms!

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Actinopterygii
  • Order: Perciformes
  • Family: Callionymidae
  • Genus: Synchiropus
  • Species: picturatus
Spotted mandarin fish pair, Synchiropus picturatus

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Captive couple

This is a great video showing a male and female pair of Spotted Mandarinfish. The male a long first fin ray on the front of the first dorsal fin. If a pair is wild caught, 300 pounds of live rock with established copepods will keep them happy as long as there are not other fish that eat copepods in the tank. If they are a pair that was raised in captivity, a much smaller tank can be used since they are typically raised to accept pellets. The only problem is that at times if there are copepods in the tank, they have been known to favor them over the pellets. An aquarist cannot just add a tank raised Mandarinfish into a 90 gallon tank and drop in pellets and expect it to get enough to eat if there are other fish eating the pellets as well. Some have trained their mandarin to enter into a small glass container with an opening only big enough for them to enter and put pellets in the container. The fish can easily get enough to eat. They still need to be fed more than 3 times a day, similar to seahorses because these fish eat all day in the wild.

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Maintenance difficulty:    The Spotted Mandarin, Psychedelic Mandarin, or Psychedelic Fish is easy to keep if you have the right aquarium set-up. See "Maintenance" below for a full description.

Maintenance/Foods:    Psychedelic fish 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 organisms).
   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:    Spotted Mandarin, Psychedelic Mandarin, or Psychedelic fish are found in the Philippines and Melanesia. Usually found at depths of 0 to 20 meters.

Social Behaviors:    Male and females can only be kept singly or in pairs. This means only one male and/or one female per aquarium. This includes closely related species like the Mandarinfish.

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 above is probably a male since the dorsal fin is elongated.

Breeding/Reproduction:    We have found no information at this time (10/01/99).

Light: Recommended light levels:    No special requirements.

Temperature:    No special requirements. Normal temperatures for marine fish is between 74 and 79 degrees fahrenheit.

Length/Diameter of fish:    Spotted Mandarin, Psychedelic Mandarin, or Psychedelic Fish adults can grow to 5.0 cm (2.0 inches).

Minimum Tank Length/Size:    A minimum 60 gallon aquarium is recommended since a minimum of 75 pounds of live rock is needed in order to sustain them.

Water Movement: Weak, Moderate, Strong    No special requirements.

Water Region: Top, Middle, Bottom    Usually spends most of its' time on rockwork or live rock near the bottom.

Availability:    This fish is occasionally available and is somewhat more expensive than the closely related Mandarin fish.

Author: David Brough. CFS.
Lastest Animal Stories on Spotted Mandarin

Trevor - 2003-12-29
Hi, I live in Burnaby B.C. Canada and I find that the mandarin goby is bi-far more expencive than its counter part and its counter part is far more abundant than the mandarin. I am talking about the "Psychedelic Fish". I have also been told that these and Mandarin gobys are very very hard to keep. I have a 100 gallon tank with about 200 lbs of rock and I usualy do 20-40 gallon water change every 12 days and he love the fresh water,hes right in their when I just top off the water my tanks temp id at 80 degrees. I got him 5 months ago and he has more than doubled his size since I have had him. But what I need to know is,is that will a Mandarin and a Psychedlic live together and NOT fight when crossing each others paths?

Lewis - 2011-08-01
Hello, I have a 30 gallon tank with a scooter blenny, a diamond goby, 2 firefish, 6 chromis and a Clarks clownfish along with 2 cleaner shrimp

I want to get one of these or a phycadelic mandarin can anyone tell me what one would be better??
Thanks :) :-)

  • Charlie Roche - 2011-08-01
    I believe you have too many fish for the 30 gallon tank you have now. Rule of thumb is 1 usuable gallon of water for each inch your fish are going to be as adults. Not the size they are now. With so many in the tank, the fish will become stunted and could die. I would look up the adult size of each of your fish and than get another tank or a larger tank. Sorry bout that but it is fun to have more than one.
teranese - 2010-03-18
They are very cute. They have cute colors.

claudi - 2009-11-16
Mandarins are beautiful fish. I love them and their colors.