Red Mandarin Dragonet or Mandarin Dragonet

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Description

The Red Mandarin Dragonet, Mandarinfish, or Mandarin Dragonet (Synchiropus Splendidus) is a small, brightly colored member of the dragonet family, native to the Pacific, ranging approximately from the Ryukyu Islands south to Australia.

The Mandarin Dragonet is one of only two vertebrate species known to have blue coloring because of cellular pigment.  The Mandarinfish has a body shape similar to a goby. The vivid coloration sports a bright blue background, with red pelvic fins. In some rare cases, the entire Mandarin Dragonet is red with black stripes. The large pelvic fins are used for ‘walking’ on the seafloor and are often mistakenly seen as the pectoral fins. The real pectorals are located almost at the center and are nearly transparent, with a tinge of fin, the anal fins and on part of the tail, the rest of which is striped in vibrant orange and blue. The dorsal fin, which is exceptionally tall in males, has a striking orange-and blue design as well. The eyes are usually red with black pupils. Different varieties sport different markings and colors. The green mandarin is the fish that has been described. but its pelvic fins and what would be orange is red. In some rare cases, the entire dragonet is red with black stripes.

Mandarin Dragonets are reef dwellers, preferring sheltered lagoons and inshore reefs. They feed primarily on small crustaceans and other invertebrates.  In the wild, feeding is continuous during daytime; the fish peck selectively at small prey trapped on coral substrate in a home range of many square meters.

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