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Everything you need to know about Mandarin fish (Callionymidae mandarin)

Are you fond of exploring different species of fish? We are here with one of the distinctive fish species to talk about. The Mandarin fish or Mandarin Dragonet are small and brightly coloured members of the Dragonet family. They belong to the Chordata phylum and Actinopterygii class. Their binomial name is Synchiropus Splendidus. They are popular in the saltwater aquarium trade, and Mandarin fish is generally found in warmer waters.

Habitat of Mandarin fish

The habitat of the Mandarin fish is generally inshore reefs, and they are mostly found under shallow protected lagoons and dead corals near the rubble beds of the ocean. They keep up to a depth of 1 to 18 m.

Physical attributes of the Mandarin fish

The Mandarin fish is a small, multicoloured fish belonging to the Dragonet family. They are very lightweight with a reach of 6 cm in length. The colours on the Mandarin fish scale are brilliant, with hues of purple, green, yellow, and rare red. They have wavy lines with a blue background. This member of the Dragonet family has a depressed broadhead which gives a very unusual shape to its body. Moreover, it has eight dorsal soft rays, four dorsal spines, and no anal spines. 

Diet of the Mandarin fish

The diet of the Mandarin fish is generally carnivorous, and they are mostly found preying on small love creatures like Protozoans, small worms, Manned Isopods, Amphipods and Copepods. Many times this creature can also have benthic organisms as its food. 

Behaviour of Mandarin fish

The temperament of the Mandarin fish is very peaceful. They are found to be reclusive during the day. They can also be seen perching or hopping atop corals. The movement of the Mandarin fish is also very unique, and they move by pulsating their fins just like the hummingbird. The Mandarin fish is very shy and tends to hide under the bed of corals and sand. This usually happens when they are threatened in the dark or at night. 

Mating and breeding

There is a difference between the male and the female Mandarin fish. The female Mandarin fish lacks an elongated spine visible as the first dorsal fins in males. The body of the male Mandarin fish has more orange pigmentation and is generally larger compared to the female ones. The reproduction and breeding of Mandarin fish can occur every week throughout the year.

Before the sunset, three to five female fishes gather at the courtship region where the male fishes visit. These male fishes can visit various regions in one evening and spread their sperm among multiple females. The female fish joins the male fish successfully and clings to its pelvic fins. The pair joins together belly to belly and rises above the reef by 1 metre. At the peak of the ascent, nearly 200 eggs are released at a time.

Lifecycle of the Mandarin fish

After the act of copulation, it takes about 18 to 24 hours for the eggs to hatch. At this point, the larva is 1 mm in length. The infants stay as planktons for about two weeks. At this stage, they are devoid of parental attention. The juvenile Mandarin fish settles on the reef and finds a suitable environment to settle permanently. The average lifespan of a Mandarin fish is about 10 to 15 years.

Predators and adaptations

There are no specific predators of the Mandarin fish. However, sometimes Scorpionfish seem to be waiting to attack the Mandarin fish, especially during the procedure of their mating. Unlike other species of fish, Mandarin fish do not possess scales. 

This coat helps the Mandarin fish from parasitic diseases and keeps the predators away. The bright hues on the body of the Mandarin fish are a typical signal to the predators of their terrific smell and taste. The eyes are set outwards, and it gives them a special ability to hunt for their food underwater even if there is very dim light.

Facts about Mandarin fish
  1. Mandarin fish are little beauties with 3 inches in length.
  2. They are best known for their mating ritual ‘dance,’ which can only be seen during the sunset hours. 
  3. They are very picky eaters and only eat protozoans and small worms. 
  4. These fishes have very bold colours in their bodies, but their character is very shy compared to their body colour. 
  5. The bright colouration of their body is to mislead the predators that they can be very toxic and harmful to consume. 
  6. Furthermore, Scorpionfish is one of the most common predators of Mandarin fish. 
The bottom line

The name of the Mandarin fish comes from bizarre colouration, which resembles the robes of a Chinese imperial officer. During mating, the male fishes who are strong get the favour of the female fishes more frequently. Some of the common names of Mandarin fishes are green Mandarin, Stripped Dragonet and Psychedelic Mandarin fish. The Mandarin fish is also a very beautiful fish species that is very hard to take care of inside a tank.

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