A wonderful thing about having a saltwater aquarium is the ability to keep an amazing array of marine life. Saltwater aquariums allow us to look after creatures and witness behavior that we have never seen before! One incredible saltwater aquarium fish that is a great addition to any tank is the mandarin fish. This fish is beautiful, with bold patterns and colors. In this article we will look at the mandarin fish, why you would want them in your saltwater aquarium, and how to look after them. 

The Mandarin Fish 

You probably have heard about these fish before as they are pretty famous in the aquarium world. When it comes to aquarium fish, these are probably the brightest and boldest species available to hobbyists. They add intrigue and wonder to your tank. 

These fish, also known as the mandarin dragonet, are native to the Pacific. Only growing to about three inches, they are small so great if you do not have a big tank. They can be kept in tanks of around 30 gallons. 

There are a few different species available, and all have their own unique look. The striped mandarin fish, also known as the psychedelic mandarin, is a firm favorite for many aquarium enthusiasts. This species has distinct bright colors of blues, oranges, greens, and yellows. These colors appear in psychedelic patterns over their bodies, with colors appearing in patterns and swirls. The red mandarin fish looks pretty similar to the striped species, however, it has a dominant red color.

The spotted mandarin has its own unique look that really resembles a seventies wallpaper. This species is predominately green with dark blue spots ringed with yellow. 

The males of mandarin fish often will have a longer dorsal fin and might be slightly bigger than females so you can often tell what sex the fishes are!

These fish are a chilled out, slow-moving species that normally spend their time at the bottom of the tank. They enjoy hiding out, so need a tank with a decent amount of caves and rockwork so they feel safe! A sandy or rocky substrate with rubbles and corals is the perfect habitat for these fish as it replicates their normal natural home, and this is really important in order for them to feel safe and happy in your saltwater aquarium. A deep enough substrate means that they can burrow in. They need decent light and warm waters. 

How Difficult are Mandarin Fish to Look After?

You have probably heard that this species is not really for beginner hobbyists. This is because they can be quite picky eaters, so before you decide to add them to your tank you really need to know what to expect. 

Mandarin fish are carnivores and eat small crustaceans such as copepods and amphipods. Having live rock in your aquarium is an absolute must when it comes to mandarin fish as these will sustain a decent level of copepods in your tank. 

They are constantly feeding when awake, picking over life rock and substrate. The best way to feed them in a saltwater aquarium is to have a constant supply of copepods, however, be aware that mandarin fish do eat a lot of these crustaceans. You need to make sure that they are always available to your mandarins. 

Some will also enjoy live brine shrimp or frozen mysis shrimp, but it might take time for them to get used to eating them. It is best to slowly add these into their diet. 

Other than their feeding habits, these fish are pretty easy to look after. As long as the water levels are stable with no bad chemicals overrunning the tank, they can really flourish in an aquarium environment. They can live up to five years and are pretty hardy when it comes to diseases. 

What Tankmates are Suitable?

They are peaceful towards other marine life, however, they can get territorial within their own species. It is best to have only one mandarin fish in your aquarium, or a male and female pair. They are reef safe and like being around corals as this replicates their natural habitat.

They are best kept in a tank with other peaceful fish that are of a similar size. Because they are not very competitive when it comes to food, this can be a problem between mandarin fish and their tankmates. If mandarin fish are kept with larger fish, there may be an issue with the larger fish picking on the mandarin fish for food. Because of this, it is best to keep them in a tank with other peaceful fish or those who eat different things to ensure that your mandarin fish are getting the food and nutrients that they need. 

Suitable tankmates include small damselfish, clownfish, watchman gobies, and cleaner shrimp. 

Are Mandarin Fish Poisonous?

These little fish are brightly colored for a reason. They are warning any potential predators that they are poisonous! The mandarin fish is covered in tiny little spikes, and when touched, they will inject a poisonous mucus. This mucus also smells really bad and this is for predators to know that the mandarin fish is not food!

Even though these fish are poisonous, they do not pose a threat to your other aquarium fish unless they are harassing your mandarin fish. It is also advised not to handle the mandarin fish, just to be on the safe side! The thick mucus might not do much damage to you, but the horrible smell of it will definitely make you feel ill. 

Mandarin Fish – Your New Favorite?

The mandarin fish is an amazing addition to your saltwater aquarium as they look incredible. Their patterns and colors really add to the tank, bringing a bit of exoticness to your home, wherever you are. 

If you are planning to get a mandarin fish, remember to stock up on copepods and amphipods! Thankfully, we sell them in shipments of 250, 500, and 1000s. They always come healthy and ready to be fed to your mandarin fish!