8 Mandarin Fish Facts: They Are Beauty and Beast at the Same Time

The Mandarin fish is one of the most stunning fish in the ocean, and that’s why many people keep them. But, besides the beauty, they are much more than that! Here are 8 amazing facts about Mandarin fish.

Mandarin fish
Scientific name: Synchiropus splendidus
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Callionymiformes
Genus: Synchiropus

1. Mandarin fish is one of the gorgeous fish

The Mandarin fish is a saltwater fish and it has an unusual look with a bump on its forehead. What makes this fish stand out is its dynamic coloration. It has blue color with curvy lines and different vivid patterns. With the colors red, orange, yellow, and green, the Mandarin fish is one of the most colorful species on the planet.

Among thousand fish, the Mandarin is one of just two fish having this brilliant coloration, and they have their own way to have this colorful look.

To lighten themselves up, most blue-hued animals must rely on intricate optical illusions. This is accomplished by their skin’s small layers of colorless crystals. These are layered in a way to reflect blue light back to the viewer.

This is not the way that Mandarin fish use to have the blue color. This fish, as well as its near sibling, the psychedelic Mandarin produces blue-pigmented ‘cyanophones’ which are light-reflecting cells. This is how these fish get themselves spectacular color.

There are two main color types of fish: red and green. The distinction is that the green version bears a crimson pelvic fin rather than the typical orange. These fish don’t have anal spines or scales. The males have an enlarged first dorsal spine, which is the principal morphological distinction between the two sexes.

Their exceptionally bright coloration which resembles the robes of an Imperial Chinese mandarin brings them the name. Besides the Mandarin name, these species also have many popular names like green dragonet fish, striped dragonet, mandarin goby fish, striped mandarin fish, green mandarin, and even psychedelic mandarin fish.

You may read some of the other Colorful animals for further information:

2. They’re small and shy

Because of their beautiful appearance, many people want to dive into the ocean to see them. However, they are hard to detect in their natural habitat. This is because these shy fish prefer to hide in the sand or under corals on the ocean bottom. In addition, they are quite small. Their body size is just about 6 cm (2.4 in), and females are slightly smaller than males.

Mandarin fish are frequently observed in groups or pairs. A school of green dragonets usually seek food near or on the coral reef. You can barely see a Mandarin fish searching for food on its own.

3. Habitat

These gorgeous fish lives in the Pacific Ocean. They can be found in the western Pacific in regions of Asia, including China and Japan. Philippines and Indonesia are also their home. They are also present in significant numbers in Hong Kong and New Guinea. Their geographic range extends to Japan’s Ryukyu Islands and warm Australian seas.

A Mandarin fish’s native habitat is tropical seawater. It prefers to hang out in shallow bays and near-shore reefs. The fish has been observed largely at the ocean’s bed. It does, however, float up during mating.

4. Mandarin fish are poisonous

Not only are Mandarin fish beautiful, but they are also dangerous. Since the Mandarin fish lacks scales, it is vulnerable to predators and disease. That’s why they protect themselves by wearing tiny spines all over their body. These spines are used to shoot deadly mucus into their predators.

The Mandarin fish’s colorful epidermis has two kinds of cells: one that emits venom to defend it against predators, and one that generates a thick mucus covering to guard it against parasites, elements, and sickness.

This mucus coating is very harmful, especially if it gets into an open wound of the predator. Moreover, it stinks. Thick mucus and an awful smell – these 2 elements are enough to put someone off a possible meal.

To be safe, you shouldn’t touch the Mandarin fish. They’re poisonous to humans with their toxic spines.

5. They only have one predator

As we mention above, Mandarin fish have their secret weapon to protect themselves. The mucus and the toxic spines make other species afraid of them. This is why these beautiful fish have almost no known predators.

The well-known predator – scorpionfish

However, this can’t intimidate scorpionfish which are one of their common enemies. The scorpionfish is one of the best camouflage masters. Due to the rough look, they easily blend into the coral reefs and wait till the time comes to attack their prey. This usually happens when the Mandarin fish engage in their breeding ritual.

6. They have a unique mating ritual

Mandarin mating behavior is truly fascinating. These species are highly appealing due to their brilliant blue hue. They’re even glamorous when the males perform a flashy dance in order to attract female Mandarin fish.

At sunset, females will gather at a certain area on the reef. They wait for the males to come and do their wooing dance. Not all females are keen on breeding, they would just swim away. Because there are fewer ready females, the males are highly aggressive and fiercely compete to be chosen. Female Mandarin fish tend to pick larger and stronger males.

A pair of Mandarin fish is mating

When the female chooses their mate, they swim above the reef to reproduce, with the female laying on the pelvic fin of the male. Following this, the mating procedure is identical to that of other fish.

The male discharges sperm and the females produce eggs in the current at the same time. The couple subsequently split up, and the courtship comes to an end. Males can breed with numerous females in one night.

The female has the ability to spawn practically every night. It can lay up to 200 eggs at a time. The fertilized eggs emerge into larvae in 18-24 hours and settle within the reef after floating for 2 weeks.

Mandarin fish have an average lifespan of 10 to 15 years. This is quite lengthy for a fish. However, they live substantially shorter lives in captivity, about 2 to 4 years.

7. These fish are picky eaters

The Mandarin marine fish is a picky eater. It is a carnivorous fish and has a highly specialized diet. Crustaceans make up the majority of their food. These predators’ favorite crustaceans include isopods and amphipods. The fish mainly seek these creatures around the coral reef and other live rocks.

Besides crustaceans, their diet also includes other food like fish eggs, protozoans, small snails, and other marine invertebrates.

Mandarin fish eat all day in their natural environment. They take food that is positioned on the bottom or on the surface.

8. Mandarin fish are not suitable to make good pets

Because of its stunning appearance, many people keep this species as pets. You can easily buy them in pet stores and online. However, this saltwater fish is quite hard to maintain in a tank due to some reasons below:

– The Mandarin fish have specific dietary needs. They won’t consume standard fish food or prepared food. It can be difficult to feed them.

– In the aquarium, you shouldn’t keep more than one Mandarin fish in one tank if they are male. A male Mandarin fish will detest its own kind which is males. They are aggressive toward one another and will not allow each other’s existence in the same tank. However, a male and female can be housed together.

– In the wild, they live 4 times longer than in captivity.

– Their price is quite expensive. Individual fish can cost you up to $150.

If you want to keep this fish as a pet, you should learn more about how to keep Mandarin fish by the following guidelines here, to take care of them better.


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