It’s no coincidence that the latin name for the Blue Mandarin Dragonet looks a whole lot like the word splendid. This is probably the most vividly coloured fish available in the aquarium hobby. It has a maze-like pattern of blue, green, orange and red. Two of its most striking characteristics are its bright green snout and the deep blue trim on its fins. This fish is very popular with aquarists and absolutely commands attention for both its amusing way of swimming and its gorgeous colours.
The Blue Mandarin Dragonet is found in the Indo-Pacific region including the Philippines, Indonesia and the Great Barrier Reef where they live in shallow lagoons and inshore reefs. They are most commonly found amongst the coral rubble, which gives them a place to hide. While wild caught specimens used to be the norm there are now a number of companies that supply captive bred Mandarins. These fish tend to be hardier and slightly less difficult to feed. However, they absolutely require a mature tank for long term health. The tank should have ample rockwork and a substrate, as they will spend their days searching them for food. They are a peaceful fish and there should be plenty of hiding spots available for them. Mandarins also employ a toxic, unpalatable mucous coat to help them stave off predatory fish and parasites.
This fish is generally kept for a single reason: It’s beautiful colours. While all reef fish are beautiful in their own way, there really is nothing that compares to the Mandarin Dragonet. However, they do have a somewhat well deserved reputation for being picky eaters. While captive bred specimens will generally eat prepared foods, they still require an ample supply of amphipods and copepods. These can be added to the tank as a prepared solution or bred in a refugium or breeding box. When purchasing a captive bred Mandarin it is always a good idea to ask about feeding as different suppliers raise their captive fish with different foods.
For hobbyists who are up to the challenge the Blue Mandarin Dragonet is one of the most beautiful fish to be found in any aquarium.