Starry Dragonet
Starry Dragonet

Starry Dragonet

Synchiropus stellatus

Starry Dragonet

Synchiropus stellatus is known under many different common names in English, including Starry Dragonet, Stellate Dragonet, and Red Scooter Blenny. (Not to be confused with the Scooter Blenny, Synchiropus ocellatus.)

The Starry Dragonet belongs to the family Callionymidae where you will find the dragonets.

Synchiropus stellatus has not been evaluated for the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Geographical range, habitat and habits

The Starry Dragonet lives in the Indian Ocean, from the eastern coast of Africa to the island of Sumatra in Indonesia. It likes to stay close to costal protected reefs and is also found around oceanic islands. This fish ventures down to a depth of 40 meters / 130 feet and is commonly found among rubble or rocks covered in algae. During courting, the male fish will show off his large dorsal fin. He will also show his fin to scare other males during territorial disputes.

Size and appearance

The largest scientifically measured Starry Dragonet was 7.5 cm / 3 in. The top part of the body is golden or mottled pink, and is adorned with dark sepia blotches and silvery spots. The lower part of the body is instead silvery and decorated with red dots.

This species can be sexed based on appearance. The male will normally display brighter colours and develop a bigger dorsal fin. In males, it is also common for the dorsal fin to have lines and ocelli (eye-like markings). In the female fish, the dorsal fin is typically black with a white margin.

Starry Dragonet care

The Starry Dragonet is peaceful towards other fish and considered reef safe. It should not be kept with aggressive species and it can starve if forced to compete for food with faster or more assertive species. The fish should be kept in a well established an aquarium with thriving populations of amphipods and copepods and it is important to include plenty of live rock in the set up. This species is not recommended for novice marine aquarists.

It is not advisable to house a Starry Dragonet in an aquarium smaller than 30 gallons / 115 litres. Include a lot of suitable hiding spots in the set up and use live sand as substrate. It is possible to keep several Starry Dragonets together, but it is best to introduce them simultaneously. If this is not possible, rearrange the aquarium set up thoroughly to break up old territories before you introduce new fish. The ideal sex ratio is 2-3 females for each male.

If you want to keep more than one male, you need a cleverly decorated aquarium of at least 55 gallons / 200 litres. When the two encounter each other, you can expect them to lock lips and try to shake each other.  

Keep the water temperature in the 72-78º F / 22-25.5º C range, the specific gravity at 1.020-1.025, and the pH-value between 8.1 and 8.4.

Feeding Starry Dragonet

As mentioned above, the Starry Dragonet should only be kept in aquariums where there are plenty of amphipods and copepods for it to meticulously seek out and devour. This is a slow-moving feeder and it cannot be expected to rush to the surface to compete for food with other fish during feeding time. You can supplement the amphipods and copepods with other meaty foods such as brine shrimp and bloodworms, but your Starry Dragonet might not be able to catch any food before it is gulped down by faster inhabitants. Some aquarists have managed to train their Starry Dragonets to accept prepared foods, but this is really hard.

Dargonet articles

Green Mandarinfish – Guide to keeping Synchiropus spendidus
Spotted Mandarinfish – Guide to keeping Synchiropus picturatus


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