Blue Mandarin - Synchiropus splendidus
Avg Size 3" Females & up to 3.5-4" Males
These are wild collected Mandarins which I train to eat frozen PE (Piscine Energetics) Mysis shrimp in my special aged coral growing systems.
A 30 gallon reef setup (rock & sand) is a minimum for long term success. Though mine readily eat they are always on the go, scooting in & out of the rocks hunting for tasty food morsels so having plenty of room for this activity is critical.
Females are a little more expensive as they are harder to get.
Males have a tall thin mast on the back fin behind their head & the females sport a shorter, cropped & rounded fin.
These peaceful little fish are normally ignored by other fish as they don't have normal fish characteristics that make them seem like a threat. Also know they have a bad tasting, toxic to fish, slime coat which is a big part of their defense against predation. Most fish know this & leave the Mandarins alone. If you have a pair, eventually they will start their mating dance, triggered by the sunset phase of our lighting. Solitary all day, at dusk they will seek each other out & start to gracefully swim up & down the water column, sometimes belly to belly in the most gorgeous mating ballet! I've experienced the thrill of seeing them release after about an hour of playing & it's the most exciting thing to witness!
Never, ever keep 2 male Dragonets in the same tank as they will fight to the death! You can keep multiple females or a single male with multiple females. Beware of the fact that some male Dragonets could have been improperly housed with unsuitable tankmates & may have had their long dorsal fin nipped off so it "looks" like a female! Folks, this is way too common. Buy only from a reputable source like AquaCorals & know what you're getting!
I do NOT recommend quarantine tanks. Because Mandarins spend most of their time in among the rocks they would no doubt be scared in a small environment where they can't hide as normal from perceived danger. Because of this stress they may stop eating. Add to this, the transfer from the Q tank to the DT (display tank) is going to be another stressor for them. The water parameters/composition in a Q tank is never exactly the same as a Display Tank, the transfer scares them & they have to acclimate to yet another environment. I encourage you to place my Mandarins in your DT once acclimated.
My Dragonets do not leave my facility until they are eating frozen PE Mysis Shrimp (PE = Piscine Energetics)! This usually takes a week so you know they are fully rested as well as eating when they arrive to your home!
Feeding Dragonets: My Dragonets are trained to eat PE Mysis Shrimp. I do not use nor recommend any other brand Mysis! See the PE Mysis Shrimp page for more details as to why.
Feed Every Day - Once A Day. Only feed your Mandarin PE Mysis Shrimp. They do not need anything more. I do not recommend adding pods or using brine shrimp etc. You risk introducing pathogens to your tank and neither are as nutritious as PE Mysis Shrimp.
How To Prepare. Start by thawing the amount to feed in cold tap water. A clean bathroom size paper cup works well for most. Once thawed, pour/strain through a net (a 3 inch net works great for this) & rinse with cold tap water. Add clean tap water to your cup & backwash the Mysis shrimp into the water. Add any other foods like flake & frozen Calanus to the Mysis. I suck up this "soup" with a clean turkey baster & broadcast feed the mix into the tank.
Do NOT Target Feed. Please, understand they are reclusive eaters meaning they won't usually want to eat in front of you until they associate you with food & even then, may still act reclusive. This is completely normal. Do not chase your AquaCorals Dragonet(s) around trying to target feed them and do not stay near your tank trying to see them eat as that only makes them want to hide (or they will just sit still) & you're defeating the purpose - them eating. Trust me when I say my Dragonets know full well what PE Mysis shrimp is & when hungry, will chase after it no matter how many other fish you may have competing for it!
Give your new Mandarin about a week before looking at them hard. If they are eating they will maintain their plump body condition or they will look thinner. Thinner is noted by a concave belly as well as seeing a horizontal rib line that runs down the length of their body as pictured below. A well conditioned Dragonet will be brightly colored & it's body rounded out all the way to it's tail whereas a malnourished Dragonet will be concave above & below this rib line, again, seen below.