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Mandarin dragonet

Synchiropus splendidus

Description: Mandarin dragonet, also called the Psychedelic fish, is so named because of its flamboyant coloration said to resemble the robe of an Imperial Chinese officer. The scaleless body is blue or green with wavy alternating lines of orange, red, blue and green. Other colors can also be found in the pattern. The fan-shaped tail is bright red with blue edging. The male is usually larger than the female.

Size: They are small, reaching a maximum length of three inches (8 cm), with males being larger than females.

Behavior: They are generally a peaceful fish, but can be territorial toward similar species. Mandarin dragonets are found in groups or pairs.

Diet: They feed continuously throughout the day on small crustaceans found in the sediment and crevices of rocks and corals.

Communication: Mandarin dragonets secrete a pungent smelling mucous that is bitter tasting. It is believed they use this mucous to deter predators.

Reproduction: They have a unique mating behavior where the male and female approach each other and begin to “dance” in a spiral motion up into the water column. They release sperm and eggs as they rise (pelagic spawner). There can be up to 200 eggs released at one time.

Habitat/range: Living in reefs and lagoons, their natural range includes the Western Pacific,
Indonesia, the Philippines and Australia.

Status: Not accessed for the IUCN Red List.