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Tropical Diver presented by Southwest

Mandarinfish

Mandarinfish

(Synchiropus splendidus)

The mandarinfish is a small, colorful, bottom-living species found among the coral in shallow lagoons and inshore reefs in the western Pacific. It usually occurs in small groups spread over a small area. The species feeds primarily on benthic invertebrates.

The mandarin fish does not have scales. So for defense against predators, the species secretes a foul-tasting, toxic mucus and its distinctive colors warn larger fish not to eat it. The mucus also protects the fish from parasites.

You can see this colorful coral reef dweller in its own habitat in the Tropical Diver gallery.

Fun Facts

  • The mandarinfish belongs to a group called “dragonets”.
  • It is sexually dimorphic, meaning the male looks very different than the female.
  • The male is larger and more colorful than the female.
  • The male has long spines on the dorsal fin which he uses for territorial display.
  • The mandarinfish is a popular aquarium fish, but is difficult to maintain.
  • Download full fact sheet

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