Mandarinfish are fish that are members of the dragonet or Callionymidae family. Because of their specialized dietary needs, they are challenging to keep. However, once mandarin fishes nutritional challenge has been met, they are relatively easy to care for.
Here is a collection of mandarinfish species characteristics, identification, compatibility, aquarium care, feeding, and more. Read on to learn how to keep these delicate saltwater swimmers.
Feeding the Mandarinfish
Caring and keeping Mandarinfish alive in an aquarium (closed system) for any given period has always been problematic for aquarists.
It was imagined that if a Mandarinfish was kept in a tank with plenty of live rocks that the fish would be able to stay healthy on the copepods that grow and multiplies on the rock. It is, however unfortunate that this isn’t what happens in most cases.
The Mandarinfish instead would feed on the copepod population and begins to starve themselves till they die slowly. Before Mandarinfish can survive in an aquarium, owners or aquarists must first train them to feed on a high protein, high-quality foods that are made available for consumption.
Different methods are being cultivated by aquarists to wean Mandarinfish off of copepods (live goods). They feed them frozen Mysis shrimps that contains all the nutritional values that Mandarinfish requires. Then they feed them pelletized foods.
A practical method adopted was placing the new Mandarinfish in a small Q.T. tank or a breeding basket and feed live brine shrimps to them. Mandarinfish is very attracted to the movements of the live shrimps, which makes feeding interesting for them. Aquarists then slowly begin to include a few frozen Mysis shrimps to the Q.T. tank or the breeding basket.
Over time, the Mandarinfish starts eating and accepting the Mysis shrimps as there daily food. The fish may then be moved safely to the aquarium once they’ve been weaned off of live brine shrimps. They can then be fed just Mysis shrimps.
Bear in mind that Mandarinfish isn’t voracious eater and would never try to compete with more aggressive feeders in a tank. So it’s crucial that their tankmates are carefully selected.
Experience has shown us that many weaned mandarins would prefer to be fed from an eyedropper. They’d wait at the edge of a tank and suck Mysis shrimps out of the eyedropper.
Types of Mandarinfish
Spotted Mandarinfish, like others, spend all its time at the bottom searching for copepods and amphipods, which happens to be its favorite food. Scientifically known as Synchiropus picturatus, the spotted Mandarinfish are better neighbors with non-aggressive feeders, primarily since they can’t compete with most fish for food.
The striped Mandarinfish spends most of its time hopping around live rocks and substrate in a tank slurping up amphipods and copepods. They also don’t mind feeding on tiny crustaceans. They are also called the “Psychedelic Mandarinfish” and scientifically known as Synchiropus splendidus.
With patience, striped Mandarins can be trained to eat frozen Mysis shrimps, which is a preferred food for it. Like all Mandarinfish, the striped Mandarinfish isn’t an aggressive feeder and don’t mind sharping tanks with careful eaters like seahorses.
Red mandarin is a blend of the psychedelic or striped Mandarinfish. The head and the body of the Red Mandarinfish are a maze-like combination of red, orange, and blue.
Male Red Mandarinfish may be differentiated from females by the elongated dorsal spine.
Little white crawlers at the bottom of your aquarium
These “little white bugs” (amphipods and copepods) are the tiny natural foods Mandarinfish, and other creatures feed on. These foods are close to the bottom of the food chain, and if you have an abundance of them in your tank, then your Mandarinfish should do well to help themselves.