Spotted Mandarinfish
Spotted Mandarinfish

Spotted Mandarinfish

Synchiropus picturatus

Spotted Mandarinfish

The Spotted Mandarinfish, Synchiropus picturatus, is known under several different common names in English, including Picturesque dragonet, Picture dragonet, Green Spot Mandarin Dragonet, Green Spot Mandarin Goby and Spotted Mandarin. Just like its close relative the Green Mandarinfish (Synchiropus splendidus), it is sometimes referred to as Psychedelic fish or Psychedelic Dragonet.  

If you look for information about Synchiropus picturatus in older sources, you might encounter the scientific names Callionymus picturatus and Pterosynchiropus picturatus.

The Spotted Mandarinfish has not been evaluated for the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Geographical distributions, habitat and habits

The Spotted Mandarinfish lives in the Indo-West Pacific. To the north, it is found up to the Ryukyu Islands of Japan. To the south, it is found down to Australia. This species only lives in tropical waters and does not migrate. The Spotted Mandarinfish typically inhabits shallow reefs and protected lagoons. It will spend most of its time in places with plenty of coral rubble or in silty areas.  

Size and appearance

The largest scientifically described Spotted Mandarinfish was 7 cm / 2.8 in. The fish is famous for its extremely colourful body which is decorated with a profusion of black, blue and orange spots on a green base. Fins and head are just as flamboyant as the rest of the body.  

Spotted Mandarinfish care

The Spotted Mandarinfish is considered difficult to care for, chiefly because it is hard to get it to eat in the aquarium. If you want to keep Spotted Mandarinfish you should wait until you have a well established aquarium with a lot of live rock inhabited by thriving populations of suitable prey for the fish. Keep at least 100 pounds / 45 kg of live rock for each fish. It is also a good idea to install a refugium since this will increase the amount of copepods in the aquarium. You can read more about the feeding requirements of the Spotted Mandarinfish further down in this article.

It is not advisable to keep the Spotted Mandarinfish in an aquarium smaller than 30 gallons / 115 litres and the aquarium must naturally be large enough to house a large amount of live rock. This fish is a peaceful and reef safe species that will leave fish and most invertebrates (including corals) alone in the aquarium, with the exception of course of suitable prey. Keeping more than one Spotted Mandarinfish in the aquarium can be tricky, unless it is a compatible pair or you have a very large and cleverly decorated aquarium. Keep in mind that the aquarium must have enough prey animals to sustain your mandarins; adding too many can lead to starvation.    

The aquarium where you keep your Spotted Mandarinfish must contain a lot of suitable hiding spots. The recommended water temperature is 23-29° C / 74-83° F and the salinity should be kept in the 1.021-1.025 range. Keep the pH-value between 8.2 and 8.4 and the alkalinity from 8dKH to 12dKH.

Feeding Spotted Mandarinfish

The carnivore Spotted Mandarinfish is a specialized feeder and copepods dominate its diet. It is very difficult to train a Spotted Mandarinfish to accept other types of food. (You should also keep in mind that the fish is adapted to a certain diet and forcing it to keep dissimilar diet can cause health problems.) Your mandarin might start eating small amounts of other food types in the aquarium, but a thriving copepod population is necessary if you want your Spotted Mandarinfish to survive and stay healthy in the long run. This doesn’t mean that it is wrong to supplement the copepods with other food types; you can for instance give your fish the opportunity to snack on brine shrimp, black worms and similar meaty foods.  

As mentioned above, the aquarium should ideally contain at least 100 pounds / 45 kg of live rock for each Spotted Mandarinfish and it is also advisable to install a refugium.

Breeding Spotted Mandarinfish

The Spotted Mandarin fish is an egg-laying species. The first dorsal spine is more elongated in the males than in the females and this species is therefore fairly easy to sex. The Spotted Mandarinfish has been successfully bred in captivity.  

Dargonet articles

Green Mandarinfish – Guide to keeping Synchiropus spendidus
Starry Dragonet – Guide to keeping Synchiropus stellatus


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