A Splendid Swimmer

Mandarin-Pattern-July-17-BlogWhat is the most beautiful fish in the world? Of course, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so we’ll all have our own opinion. But I reckon that one of the contenders in anybody’s book would have to be the mandarin fish.

Mandarin fish are very bright. Their primary colour is a gorgeous shade of blue but this is decorated with purples, greens, oranges and yellows – all in flowing patterns. It’s as if they had been hand-painted by a great artist!

So, what do we know about the mandarin fish? Here are a few facts:

  • As well as mandarin fish, they have a few other names – mandarin dragonet, striped dragonet, psychedelic mandarin fish… My favourite is the one given by scientists – Synchiropus splendidus. A splendid name, don’t you think?
  • For all their beauty, mandarin fish are quite small. They only grow to about 6 or 7 centimetres
  • Mandarin-Fish-July-17Their colouring helps to conceal mandarin fish, believe it or not! They actually blend into the background on the coral reefs they inhabit
  • The mandarin fish’s natural home is in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. Due to its appearance, it has become popular with aquarium-keepers and so many are taken from the wild. Sadly, few of these survive
  • Mandarin fish have a picky diet. They are carnivores but they eat specific creatures – isopods, copepods (yes, I’d never heard of these either!), gastropods and worms. Some of these are impossible to buy in a shop so pet mandarins are often undernourished
  • Mandarins are quite timid creatures. They spend most of their time hiding and seldom come out. That’s probably because their small size makes them vulnerable to predators. We do know that scorpion fish like to dine on mandarins

At the start of this blog I asked you a question – ‘What is the most beautiful fish in the world?’ So, now that you’ve met the mandarin fish, has your answer changed? Well, I hope that this little fella has at least made it into your top 10!

By the way, if you like fish – tropical or otherwise – then take a look at our free-to-play Nature Quizzes. There are over 60 quizzes including 4 on the inhabitants of rivers, lakes and seas. Have a go and see how well you can score!

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