Spotted Mandarin dragonet
Scientific name: Synchiropus picturatus
Pronunciation: Sin-key-row-puss pick-tur-rah-tuss Size: Around 7cm
Origin: Indo-west Pacific
Availability and cost: Relatively common; £20-40
The other commonly seen Mandarin in the hobby is, in my experience at least, more likely to accept alternatives to live food. Their chunky appearance is endearing and they feed in the same methodical way as their psychedelic cousins, scrutinising every square inch of substrate for the tiniest morsel. Sexing them can be tricky as the male’s rather modest first dorsal fin spike can be damaged in transit. However, the largest individuals offered for sale tend to be male, and females turn up with reasonable regularity.
You can target feed this species with brineshrimp or small Mysis in a pipette. Supplementary natural fauna in the aquarium is still strongly recommended.