Mandarin Fish (Dragonet): Facts, Care And Breeding Guide

Mandarin fish are one of the most popular aquarium fish. They are often seen as beautiful, colorful, and fun to watch. A lot of people want to know what Mandarin fish are, how to take care of them, and how you can breed them at home.

This article will go over Mandarin fish facts & overview, mandarin fish appearance, mandarin fish habitat and tank conditions, mandarin fish diet, mandarin fish care, and finally how to breed your mandarin fish.

Facts about the Mandarin Fish and an Overview

Mandarin Fish

Family: Callionymidae
Origin: Western Pacific Ocean
Temperament: Peaceful
Size: 3” (7.6 cm)
Minimum Tank Size: 30 Gallons
Diet: Carnivore
Care: Moderate
pH: 8.1-8
Salinity: 1.023-1.025
Temperature: 75-81°F

Origin and Habitat of the Mandarin Fish

A Callionymidae species, the mandarin dragonet (Synchiropus splendidus) may be found in the Philippines, Indonesia, Hong Kong, and Australia.


Mandarin fish are a friendly species that can coexist peacefully with a variety of other fish.

Because they are a more shy species than most other fish, they thrive in tanks with plenty of plants and caves to hide in.

They also spend a lot of time towards the tank’s bottom, looking for food.

Size and Appearance

Mandarins are one of the most gorgeous fish available and are incredibly attractive to look at.

It doesn’t have scales and has a mucus-coated skin with a foul odor that protects it from predators.

They usually reach a maximum size of roughly 3 inches.

Lifespan of Mandarin fish

The Mandarin fish has an average lifespan of 2-4 years in the wild. Some do live much longer, though — up to 10-15 years — if they are kept in a fish tank with good water quality and fed regularly. The Mandarin fish is subject to external factors such as the quality of its environment and diet, so it is important to provide the fish with what it needs.

Types Of Mandarin Fish

Striped Mandarin Fish

This little fish, known as the “Psychedelic Mandarinfish” (Synchiropus splendidus), spends its time bouncing around an aquarium’s live rocks and bottom, sucking on copepods, amphipods, and extremely minute crustaceans. The striped mandarinfish may be weaned off live meals and trained to eat frozen Mysis shrimp, which is a good food for it, with luck and patience.

This fish, which is not an aggressive feeder, gets along nicely with other cautious eaters like seahorses.

Spotted Mandarin Fish

The spotted mandarinfish (Synchiropus picturatus), like other dragonets, spends all of its time on the bottom seeking for its preferred meals (amphipods and copepods). It gets along with other non-aggressive feeders, but it can’t eat with most other fish.

Red Mandarin Fish

The red mandarin (Synchiropus cf. splendidus) is a striped or psychedelic mandarinfish variant (Synchiropus splendidus).

The red mandarin dragonet’s head and body are a maze-like blend of blue, orange, and red. The extra-elongated first dorsal spine of male red dragonets distinguishes them from females.

Habitat and Tank Conditions

Tank Setup

Mandarin fish may be found in coral reefs in the wild. They like shallow coral flats or tidal pools with plenty of sponges, algae, and nooks in which to hide.

To assist simulate their natural environment, aquariums should be well-planted with plenty of hiding spots amid rocks, driftwood, fake plants, or PVC pipes.

Because these fish like to hide, you’ll need a lot of rock and coral to make caves and overhangs.

Mandarin fish eat live rock, which is also a food source for them. It’s crucial to have a lot of live rock in your tank since a single dragonet needs about 75 pounds of it to survive.

Water Conditions

The optimal water conditions for your Mandarin fish are as follows.

  • Water temperature: 75-81°F
  • pH levels: 8.1-8
  • Salinity: To keep the water at the proper temperature, you’ll need a heater in the aquarium. They don’t need a water pump since they love slow-moving water.

What Size Aquarium Do They Need?

For a single mandarin, you’ll need at least a 30 gallon tank.

The vast amount of live rock you’ll need to put in there as a food source is the rationale for such a large tank for a single fish.

How Many Can Be Kept Per Gallon?

Mandarins should never be kept in groups and should always be kept in pairs. A 60 gallon tank is also required for a pair.


Live sands or silty substrates should be used to cover the tank’s bottom.

Examine the layer to determine if it’s thick enough for your fish to dig inside. This enables them to flee if they feel frightened or agitated.

Tank Mates

Mandarin fish are a gentle species that get along with a wide range of other fish.

Because they consume invertebrates like shrimp, crabs, and snails, they may be kept in a reef tank.

Avoid any predatory creatures that can mistake your Mandarin Fish for prey, such as lionfish and eels that reside in living rock!

The tank mates should, ideally, be smaller than the Mandarin. They aren’t aggressive feeders, though.

As a result, when they’re paired with aggressive feeders, they won’t be able to compete for food.

Here are some decent tank buddies alternatives.

  • Firefish
  • Clownfish
  • Small Damselfish
  • Green Chromis
  • Watchman Goby
  • Pajama Cardinals
  • Royal Grammas

Can You Keep Mandarin Fish Together?

The only difficulty you may have is that if males are kept together, they will fight. Pairing a guy with a female is the finest option.


Mandarins are carnivores who devour copepods, tiny snails, worms, and fish eggs (their favorite in an aquarium).

They spend the most of their time hunting food from the sediment and pebbles towards the tank’s bottom.

Copepods live in the rocks, which is why a big tank with many of rocks is necessary.

If the tank is too tiny, your fish will eat all of the copepods and will want more food in order to survive.

Frozen Mysis shrimp or live brine shrimp are also good options. Frozen meals will have to be introduced gradually into their diet.

Care and Common Diseases

Mandarin do fish do not require any particular care as long as the tank is kept clean and healthy.

Water changes should be done once a week to avoid a buildup of filth inside the tank.

Mandarins are a resilient type of fish that can survive in a variety of water conditions. They may, however, contract illnesses much as other fish.

The most frequent diseases you’ll come across are ich and fin rot.

Ich is simple to recognize because the fish develops white patches on its skin that resemble salt grains.

If left untreated, this can be fatal, but it can be readily remedied by treating the tank with copper sulfate or malachite green.

There are a few things to look out for in order to measure their health. Discoloration, darting, flashing, fast breathing, and a loss of appetite are some of the symptoms.

Here’s what you can do if your Mandarin becomes unwell:

  • Examine the water’s properties;
  • Increase the frequency of water changes;
  • Make dietary adjustments.


This kind of fish is difficult to breed in captivity. They are really fussy, so it is not as simple as pairing a male with a female.

Lowering the water temperature to roughly 68 degrees Fahrenheit is commonly used to initiate the dragonet breeding process.

The male and female will next be housed together in a spawning tank.

Up to 200 eggs can be released at a time, with the eggs hatching in around 12 hours. The eggs will be retrieved from the parents and placed in an incubation tank once they have been deposited.

The fry will be given newly born brine after hatching.

The juveniles should have developed their vibrant colors and resemble the adult fish after three weeks.


Mandarin fish are an excellent choice for any aquarium. They will provide color and movement to your tank, as well as additional benefits like as removing algae off the bottom.

However, do your research before purchasing these fish since they have certain specific requirements that must be satisfied in order for them to thrive in an aquarium.

This covers food constraints as well as specialized habitat needs. We hope that this article has answered the majority of your inquiries concerning mandarin fish.