The Mandarinfish definitely is one of the most beautiful fish of the ocean but his beauty is not his only remarkable thing! Here comes some fun facts about Mandarinfish and Mandarinfish mating:
The common name of the Mandarinfish (Synchiropus splendidus) comes from the resemblance of its vivid colors with the old Chinese mandarin robes. The entire body of the Mandarinfish is made up of wavy alternating lines of orange, blue and green. That is why it is also sometimes called ‘the psychedelic Mandarinfish’. Another name for it is mandarin goby but actually the Mandarinfish is not a goby! It is a member of the dragonet subfamily of fish.
The blue coloration on this fish is very special because it comes from blue pigmented chromatophores called ‘cyanophore’. Chromatophores are the pigment-containing and light-reflecting cells that gives color to a lot of marine animals. Mandarinfish achieve their vibrant color thanks to those blue pigmented chromatophores and it is one of the only two vertebrates on earth which has got this kind of cells!
The purpose of the bright colors of the Mandarinfish is probably to warn potential predators that it is not worth attacking or eating but it is not the only protection this fish got to avoid such an attack. As the Mandarinfish does not have scales it produces a thick mucus that covers all its body. This mucus really is stinky and gives off a disgusting smell ! Eventually, the Mandarinfish has a set of tiny spines that it uses to inject a toxic mucus into its predators.
Another fun fact about this fish is how Mandarinfish mating takes place. The females will move at sunset to a special area in the reef and they will wait for the male at that particular spot. When the males arrive they start to show their courtship behavior. The females then pick their choice of male and attach themselves by resting on the male’s pelvic fin. During Mandarinfish mating, belly against belly, the male and the female will rise 1 meter above the reef and at the peak of their ascent, they will release sperm and eggs at the same time before disappearing into the cloud which has been created. As they are pelagic spawners, after Mandarinfish mating, the fertilized eggs will be at the mercy of the water currents and will hatch into larvae after only 18-24 hours. The larvae will remain plankton for approximately 2 weeks before settling on an appropriate habitat of the reef where they will live for 10-15 years.
Sadly due to its bright colouration, the Mandarinfish is heavily collected from throughout the Indo-Pacific to be put into aquariums where they usually don’t survive…. That is why it is way better to come and see these amazing fish in their natural environment and watch the Mandarinfish mating dance for real here at Two Fish Divers Bunaken Resort! We will take you on a sunset dive where you will have the possibility to see for yourself the Mandarinfish mating behaviour – a bucket list highlight amongst scuba divers!
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