Spotted Mandarin



Spotted Mandarin or Picturesque Dragonet

  • Spotted Mandarin
  • Synchiropus picturatus
  • Care: Intermediate
  • Diet: Omnivorous
  • Group Size: Alone or Male and Female pair
  • Place of origin: Indo-West Pacific
  • Coral Safe: Generally Yes
  • Critter Safe: Generally Yes

Spotted Mandarins, Synchiropus picturatus, also go by the name Picturesque Dragonet. These are charismatic fish that show off vibrant colours and patterns. They have large pectoral fins that they use to perch on. Males also sport large dorsal spines that they flare when displaying.

Dragonets belong to the Callionymidae family, which comes from the Greek words for: “beautiful” (kallis), and “Name” (onyma).

Spotted Mandarins, Synchiropus picturatus, ecology.

These fish occur in the Indo-West Pacific, around: Indonesia, Australia and the Philippines.

They are bottom dwellers that keep to loose groups in amongst coral. Here they hunt for zooplankton, such as: copepods, amphipods, larvae or eggs. To protect them against predators and pests, they have a thick mucus coat.

Spotted Mandarins broadcast spawn under cover of night. Males and females pair up and release their gametes as they swim upwards, belly to belly, spinning as they go. The fertilised eggs then drift away in the current.

Picturesque Dragonet in the Aquarium.

It is important to have plenty of nooks or crannies where your mandarin can explore and feel at home. Keepers may want to invest in a jump guard to prevent accidents.

Spotted Mandarins are carnivores but do best when fed a varied diet. They will eat live foods, such as copepods and brine shrimp, that can be cultivated in attached refugium.  Over time, they can accept frozen Mysis shrimp and frozen brine shrimp. We enrich all our frozen food with seachem garlic guard and Atvitol vitamins. These are great for keeping fish healthy by providing them with the nutrition otherwise lost in frozen food. In doing so, these additives support their immune system and increase longevity.

These fish can also go for masstick that can be rubbed onto the rockwork or tank sides. Spotted Mandarins can eat pellet food as well. However, getting them to do so requires persistence. We adapt all our Mandarins to aquarium life before they leave us.

Spotted Mandarins can live alone or in a male and female pair. Success depends on a fair number of variables. For example, factors to consider include: the species, tank size, space and cover available. Please give us a call if you want to know more.


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