Fish in general are quite so-so in appearance, but it doesn’t apply to Mandarin Goby. This is one of the most visually attractive and beautiful (reef) fish that you can keep at home. Many people believe that keeping one at home would be complicated and difficult – considering that you have to deal with the care and maintenance to keep the fish ‘sparkling’ and in its good shape. But if you are ready with extra length, even though you are a beginner, this fish can actually give you a good push – and also challenge. Rest assured that this fish would be just great for your saltwater aquarium.
General Facts about Mandarin Goby
Also known as Mandarinfish, the fish has its own scientific name, including Synchiropus Picturatus or Synchiropus Splendidus. The maximum size is around 3 inches so it isn’t an extra large fish. The fish would be ideal for a water tank with the size of at least 10 gallons or 38 liters. This isn’t exactly an easy fish because it takes advanced care level. However, some beginner aquarists are determined to have the fish at home and they are willing to go the extra miles. Considering that the fish has pretty low aggression level, you can say that they are quite peaceful. If you are thinking about creating a community aquarium, then they would be the perfect option. Their diet includes carnivores, where they prefer live foods, such as brine shrimp and copepods. They are available as captive-bred type.
Size Mandarin Goby
As it was mentioned before, Mandarin Gobies are relatively small saltwater creature that can only reach around 3 inches to 4 inches, max, in length. Their lifespan is around 10 years to 15 years, but for home aquarium environment, they may commonly live for around 2 years to 4 years. For those beginner aquarists who just have the fish, it’s pretty common for the fish to die (usually from starvation) within weeks after they are bought home.
The biggest issue with Mandarin Goby is the fact that they isn’t easy to keep within the saltwater aquarium environment. Sure, they may be popular for their beauty, but they are also notorious for the care and maintenance. They are naturally shy and peaceful. They are considered picky eater – which leads to another issue. They prefer eating specific food – and that food needs to be alive. It’s called copepods. In most cases, it would be difficult to have enough (live) copepods within the tank so the Gobies will stay alive.
Mandarin Goby like Copepods
which are a small crustacean invertebrate, considered as a staple consumption for many (marine) fish species. Unlike other saltwater fish in home water tanks, the Mandarin Gobies eats only live foods – like copepods and mysis shrimp or brine shrimp occasionally. If you keep the fish with reef, you won’t have to worry that the fish may eat your reef. Being a peaceful fish species, they won’t harm other corals, fish, or even invertebrates – of course other than those they consume. It would be unlikely for adult or juvenile Mandarins to eat rotifers. The rotifers are generally used as the surrogate (first) food for the marine fish larvae (aquacultured type) having super tiny mouths and only millimeters long. The larvae would outgrow the rotifers pretty quickly so they need to move on to (more) nutritious foods.
The Popularity of Mandarin Goby
When we are talking about Mandarin Gobies, we are talking about their unique trait – the psychedelic colors. Not only the color makes the fish unique, it would be impossible too to mistake them from other types of fish. The Mandarin has this scale-less body covered in orang-red, green, or blue with unique wavy pattern. The pattern is the one that creates the psychedelic impression.
As it was mentioned before, despite the name of Mandarin Goby, the fish is actually a part of the Dragonet family. It’s a common mistake made by people, really. They tend to give names to small and cool fish Gobies – while they aren’t. For instance, Engineer Gobies are a part of a Blenny while Firefish Gobies are basically a type of Dartfish.
Aside from the unique color and beautiful shades, the Mandarins have impressive hunting style and great swimming ability. It’s nice and fun to watch them swim or hunt. Their eyes look bulging out and darting in all directions. Their keen eyes are aware of tasty food morsels as they are hovering over rubbles and rocks. How can they swim so well? Well, they have the unique pectoral fins that are responsible for their great navigation and propulsion. When they flap their fins quite fast, they look almost similar to the reef hummingbirds.
Mandarin Gobies aren’t aggressive at all
They are peaceful and when they aren’t hunting, they move quite slowly. That’s why they are often harassed by the aggressive and semi-aggressive (fish) species. But these Mandarins are quite difficult for beginner aquarists – mostly because of their picky eater nature. If you aren’t able to monitor their consumption and you don’t know what to do when they refuse to eat, they may die under your watch.
The Ideal Habit
Finding Mandarin Gobies in the wild can be done in Indonesia, Indo-Pacific Ocean area, the Great Barrier Reef, the Philippines, Australia, Malaysia, and Coral Triangle. They like living in inshore reefs and shallow lagoons, especially close to dead corals and rubble beds. They like the sense of privacy and protection offered by the nature.
What should you do when you want to keep the fish in your water tank? Well, first, it should be a saltwater aquarium with the proper salt mix – you can buy it from the local fish store. You want to have a mature tank having live sand, a refugium, and live rock. they really like spending their times eating tiny (and natural) fauna in the aquarium and scouring the live real rock. They are picky eaters and they like slow water flow. They won’t do well in aggressive-feeding fish or SPS dominated tank. If you observe them, these Dragonets like to spend times hovering above or perching on live rock, scanning crannies and nooks for food and morsel.
Feeding up the Gobies
The fish is notorious as fussy and picky eaters. They really love copepods and other crustaceans over other food types. That’s why it is advisable to keep the fish within a mature tank with also mature refugium – because the fish will never run out of natural copepods. It’s possible that they consume live artemia (or baby brine shrimp), live mysid shrimp, or other meaty items (such as the black worms). But you need to observe and monitor them. If they are okay with the live artemia or black worms, it’s a good thing. But if not, then you need to figure out a way to make sure that Mandarins will have enough copepods supply.
Tank Mates and Compatibility
As peaceful fish, the Mandarins don’t get into trouble or show any aggressive sign. They are the type of fish that won’t get any attention from other fish. However, they show different kinds of behavior to their own species. They can be quite territorial. It would be a good idea to keep a single fish or just a mated pair. If you keep a male with another male, they will attach each other. However, it’s possible to have a harem (where one male is located with more males). There have been cases when they can be housed together quite successfully. But having such a harem is only done to breeders or advanced aquarists. It’s not advisable for beginners.
And as shy fish, Mandarins love having many hiding places – those spots make them feel safe and secure. During daytime, they like hiding under those rocks, but it is possible that they occasionally come out and then hop through corals. If you plan on keeping them with other peaceful and shy fish, make sure that they have the same size. Otherwise; they would compete against one another. Moreover, they aren’t the typical type of common prey for predator fish. However, some scorpionfish may attack them. And it would be quite often during mating time. Whenever these Mandarins are threatened, they would bury themselves within the sand.
Eating Normal and Well-Fed Gobies
When you want to buy the fish, it’s a good idea to see whether they are eating normally and properly. That’s why it is advisable not to buy the fish the first time. Buy the Mandarins if you have seen their feeding habit and method. Moreover, don’t buy any fish that looks malnourished or thin. Check the dorsal side’s muscles – right behind the skull. As the thickest part of the fish body, it shouldn’t look sunken. If it is sunken, then it is likely that the fish is starving. But be fooled by the claim ‘Oh, maybe the fish needs more attention and love.” If you are a beginner, you want to avoid such an issue. You only make charitable expenses for it.
Interesting and Cool Facts about Mandarin Goby
Here are some things that may pique your interest concerning the Mandarin Gobies.
The fish gets the name from the naturally bright colors. The colors resemble ancient Chinese officers’ robes, which are called Mandarins. That’s how people start to call the fish that particular name
Don’t let the name fool you. They are called Gobies, but they aren’t actually Gobies. They are actually a part of Dragonet family
Make sure that you really understand what you are getting through when you keep this type of fish. If you are a beginner, you may want to choose another easier type. But if you like some challenges, rest assured that Mandarin Goby would provide a good one.