Mandarin fish (Dragonets) Care Information

Mandarin fish

What colors and shapes: when you look at the mandarin fish, you will be amazed at what nature is capable of. With its colorful patterns of dots, spots, and stripes, this lyre fish casts a spell on every observer. Therefore it is one of the most beautiful fish in saltwater aquariums. Find out everything you need to know about keeping the mandarin fish (Synchiropus splendidus) in our article.

Appearance: Small fish with colorful patterns

The mandarin fish is a small underwater inhabitant. On average, it becomes five to eight centimeters long.

But despite its small size, it is hard to miss. Because the mandarin fish is characterized by its diverse colors and patterns. You’d think a colorful artist would have waved a brush.

A bright orange, yellow, blue, and green decorate the blue to the turquoise body. These colors can also be found in the various patterns that are outlined in dark colors. These patterns can take various forms – such as dots, spots, and stripes.

In addition to the Synchiropus splendidus, there is also the red mandarin fish (Synchiropus tudorjonesi). Colloquially, keepers distinguish both fish with the designation blue and red mandarin fish. The red mandarin fish can be recognized by its red body, yellow belly, and white spots.

How do I differentiate between females and males?

Typically mandarin fish males are brighter in color than the females. You can also tell the gender by their size and dorsal fin. The females are slightly smaller and not as bulky as the males. In addition, males have a longer first dorsal fin ray.


Which genus does the mandarin fish belong to?

The Synchiropus splendidus is a small marine fish and belongs to the genus of the lyre fish. Its special feature: it has no scales but a firm skin with a layer of mucus that protects it from parasites and diseases.

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Keeping: How do I keep a mandarin fish appropriately?

Mandarin fish are best kept in large aquariums that have been set up with live rock and have been standing for a long time. It is important to replicate the natural habitat with a coral reef and enough caves to retreat to.

As saltwater fish, the beautiful animals, of course, absolutely need a saltwater aquarium. This should have a minimum size of 300 liters.

It is also best to keep a pair of the same species of mandarinfish. So you will also be an observer of the beautiful courtship dance. Make sure that you never put two males in your tank. Because then it can lead to a life and death fight.

When should I use Synchiropus splendidus in the aquarium?

A requirement for the introduction of mandarin fish is a sufficient amount of small crustaceans in the aquarium. Otherwise, they will most likely starve to death. As permanent eaters, they need many microorganisms in the ground.

Therefore mandarin fish should not be placed in fresh tanks. Seawater aquariums that have developed a strong individual microfauna for over a year are best suited.

Diet: Preferably only live food

As a permanent eater, mandarin fish “peck” all day. They prefer to collect zooplankton and phytoplankton on living rocks and in the ground. Feeding is demanding because it is almost entirely fromEat live food.

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They only accept frozen food in rare cases. Mandarin fish does not eat dry food at all. It is best to start with live food to get used to it. Once your mandarinfish are comfortable, you can try getting them used to frozen food too.

How often should I feed?

The mandarin fish needs several small meals a day instead of one large one. Also, note that he is a slow eater.

Health: what is the life expectancy?

It is not known how old mandarin fish get in their natural habitat. In the aquarium hobby, the mandarinfish is definitely one of the most demanding pets.

Unfortunately, they get through in saltwater aquariums Diseases or posture errors often not older than a year. In well-established aquariums with ideal conditions, they can also live up to seven years.

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Purchase: offspring instead of wild-caught

Mandarin fish are available in specialist shops and online. Breeding is possible.

Since the mandarinfish is the most popular species of lyre fish among aquarists, the number of offspring is not sufficient to meet the high demand. Therefore, much mandarin fish are also offered as wild-caught, which destroys flora and fauna through the use of harmful substances.

If you want to buy a mandarinfish, you should therefore always ask your dealer about offspring.

Origin: The mandarin fish prefers tropical lagoons

The natural habitat of the mandarin fish is the Indian Ocean and the western part of the Pacific. Divers can discover it on the coasts of Japan, Africa, Sri Lanka, Australia, and the Philippines.

The mandarinfish prefers to live in tropical lagoons and coral reefs, where it feels most comfortable near the sandy and muddy seabed. There he swims around all day in search of food and likes to hide between stones and corals.

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It lives in a water depth of three and five meters, very rarely at depths of up to 18 meters.

Where does the name actually come from?

Mandarin is not only referred to as the Chinese language, but also as a high official in imperial China. The civil servants of the Ming dynasty, in particular, were dressed in sumptuous silk robes. Based on the beautiful and colorful costumes, the Synchiropus splendidus was given the name mandarinfish.


  • Name: Mandarin fish (Synchiropus splendidus or Pterosynchiropus splendidus)
  • Body length: five to eight centimeters
  • Life expectancy: in the aquarium up to seven years
  • Posture: in pairs, but never hold two Mandarin males together
  • Aquarium: Saltwater aquarium with coral reef and a minimum size of 300 liters
  • Water temperature: 24 to 27 degrees Celsius
  • Current: medium
  • Lighting: high
  • Food: permanent eater, preferably small invertebrates, feeding should take place several times a day.
  • Difficulty: advanced

Conclusion: only suitable for experienced owners

Mandarin fish are true exotic species in the aquarium – not only because of their appearance but also as fish without scales. They are demanding in terms of feeding and need a well-established aquarium with many small crustaceans and an active rock when they are introduced. That is why professionals should only keep the coveted lyre fish.

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