Care Level: Advanced
Reef Compatible: Yes
General Description: The Red Mandarin Dragonet is a rare color form (cf) of the Blue Mandarin Dragonet (Synchiropus splendidus). While ocassionally these fish may be referred to as gobies, they are not and belong to the dragonet family Callionymidae. Red mandarins are extremely popular among hobbyists for their spectacular maze-like coloration, with much redder lines and pectoral fins compared to the Blue Mandarin, but having such beauty in the home aquaria does not come easy. Dragonets have specific dietary requirements of live amphipods and copepods, and coaxing a Red mandarin to accept frozen-based foods can be challenging. Because of this, Red mandarins should not be put into an aquarium that is less than 6 – 8 months old, as this allows their natural, live food source ample time to populate in abundance (see tank requirements for further information about tank-mates that could deplete these resources). Red mandarins can be confidently sexed after 1″; males have a more elongated, pointed first dorsal fin compared to females. An adult Red mandarin can reach a size of approximately 3-1/2″. Note: All of our Red mandarins have been through our 28 day quarantine process and are eating a combination of live brine shrimp and frozen foods, in addition to live copepods.
Diet Requirements: In the wild Red mandarin dragonets are carnivorous, continuously hunting and feeding on amphipods and copepods in live rock. It is absolutely imperative to have an established tank of at least 6 – 8 months old, and add live copepod cultures (or a live food of equal value) weekly or biweekly to keep this resource available to your mandarin. Red mandarins can be extremely stubborn with accepting frozen foods and some may never do so. Offering live adult brine shrimp or black worms can help bridge the transition to small frozen foods. If your Red mandarin does eat frozen foods, this does not replace the need for its natural food source (copepods). We highly encourage soaking frozen foods in vitamin and fatty acid supplements for the mandarin’s health and to maintain body mass.
Care Requirements: A minimum 55 gallon aquarium is ideal to house a single Red Mandarin; a pair would require more space. In smaller aquariums, the demand of the Red mandarin’s feeding behavior becomes more difficult to sustain. Dragonets absolutely need generous live rock for feeding and some crevices to take refuge. Male Red mandarins will conflict with each other; keep one per aquarum or a single male-female pair. Do not house dragonets with aggressive and pugnacious tank-mates. Fish that will also inadvertently outcompete it for live copepods should be avoided. Examples include, but are not limited to, certain anthias, gobies, dottybacks, wrasses, and basslets. Red mandarins are most at home in reef aquariums and they will not harm any invertebrate or coral. Recommended water conditions, 72-78° F, KH 8-12, pH 8.1-8.4, salinity 1.020-1.025.
Purchase Size: Small: 1″ to 1-1/2″; Medium: 1-1/2″ to 2-1/2″; Large: 2-1/4″ to 3″
Note: Your item may not look identical to the image provided due to variation within species. Purchase sizes are approximate.