Beautiful, useful algae eater
Looking at the Mandarin dragonet you might think: Beauty all to often leads to vanity. The colourfully patterned, aquarium beauty with its many iridescent colours is extremely picky about its choice of food. Reluctantly, it can be become used to frozen or dry food. It much prefers to search the bottom of its coral tank for tiny algae or flatworms, which it plucks from the substrate with its small, pointed jaws. That is why this attractive ornamental fish is also considered to be a useful aquarium inhabitant. It saves on the use of chemicals and keeps its tank free of algae and pests. However, the tank should be large enough to ensure adequate live food for the Mandarin fish.
The keeping of the Mandarin fish gives an insight into the special care provided by the aquarium carers in the MEERESMUSEUM. Because only so-called live rock can provide a familiar environment for the dragonet, as in the flat, protected coral reefs of its Pacific home. A sizeable, but lifeless, tank decoration would be useless. Reef aquariums are, therefore, provided with genuine corals, which bring a diverse range of organisms with them to the aquarium water. If these include unwanted pests, these provide the Mandarin with ideal food.
The Mandarin is as idiosyncratic in its feeding behaviour as it is in the defence of its district. Two males, clearly visible by the extended ray of the front dorsal fin, fight each other to the death of one of the rivals. This means that at most one couple can be kept in an aquarium.