Splendidus by name, splendid by nature! This week’s Fish of the Week is the ever-popular and vibrant Mandarinfish (Synchiropus splendidus). This common aquarium species is valued due to its exotic and vibrant colours, ranging from turquoise to orange to electric blue, and grows to a size of around 6cm (2.5 inches). These fish are found widely throughout the western Pacific and have no scales. Instead, they have a thick mucus coating with a foul smell and bitter taste which is thought to serve a dual purpose. Firstly, this can deter potential predators (and suggests that their vivid colouration is an aposematic warning), and secondly, this may go a way to explain the high resistance of these fish to disease, the reasoning being that parasites are unable to penetrate the thick mucus layer. As yet, this remains unproven, but watch this space! Mandarinfish are carnivores, giving these a fish a bit of a reputation as being extremely difficult to keep. However, with sufficient live food upon which they can graze and large areas of live rock, these attractive fish should do well in any mature reef aquarium with unaggressive tank mates.
Image credit: Wikipedia