The Mandarin Goby Resource

Mandarin Goby

Mandarin GobyMandarin Goby is what people call the Synchiropus splendidus (a species of fish).

Mandarin Goby Overview


It originates from the reefs all across the western pacific ocean including places like Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines and Australia. In the wild they can be found in groups as well as pairs. They find homes in the reef crests, their home usually ranges several square metres. Due to their vibrant colors and peaceful temper, the Mandarin Goby has turned out to be very popular in the Saltwater hobby.

Common Names

Despite the name, the Mandarin Goby is actually not a species of Goby, it instead belongs to the Dragonet family. This has resulted in the fish having several different common names. Some of the most popular ones include:

  • Mandarin fish
  • Mandarin Dragonet
  • Psychedelic fish
  • Striped Dragonet
  • Green Dragonet


The Mandarin Goby is a small scaleless fish which grows to a max size of 4 inches. These fish have a mesmerizing body full of vibrant blues, oranges, and greens. Their eyes are a reddish orange with dark black pupils.They have transparent pectoral fins which are located at the center of their body. They also have large pelvic fins which help it “walk” along the seafloor. There are several other varieties of this fish which feature different color variations.

Conservation Status

The Mandarin Goby has not been evaluated by the IUCN

Life Span

The typical lifespan for a wild Mandarin Goby is 10-15 years. In captivity they have a shorter expected lifespan ranging from 6-8 years.


The mandarin Goby is a very timid fish and this is evident in their eating habits. They are very selective when it comes to what they eat, and they will spend lots of time examining their food before eating it. The Mandarin Goby has a pair of eyes that help them easily find food in low light areas, feeding mainly on things like worms, amphipods, and other small invertebrates

Reproduction Process

In the evening, females in the surrounding reef will gather together. Males will travel around to the various groups of females in hopes of attracting them. Once a male has successfully attracted a female, the two will align themselves belly to belly. They will then begin to rise towards the water’s surface. They will reach their peak 1 metre above the surface of the reef. At this point the female will release up to 200 eggs and the male will release the sperm.

The parents do not protect their fertilized eggs. Instead they immediately abandon them, leaving them to the mercy of the sea. The eggs are small spheres which float around the ocean until they hatch into larvae within the first 24 hours. After 2 weeks they will find a place in the reef to settle down. It is here that they end up residing for the rest of their life. At this point the juveniles will already be closely resembling their full adult form.


Keeping the Fish

Care Level

The Mandarin Goby is considered to be one of the more difficult species to keep in captivity. Because of this, it is recommended for beginners to stay away from keeping this fish.

Tank Requirements

This fish requires its tank to be 55-gallons or larger. The tank needs to also needs to contain at least 50 lb’s of live rock, and sufficient filtration and heating.

Water Parameters

For the best chance of survival, you will need to monitor and maintain the following:

Temperature: 72-78 °F (22-25 °C)
pH Level: 8.1-8.4
Alkalinity: 8-12 dKH
Water Hardness: 12-30 dH

Health Issues

The Mandarin Goby is very resistant to any common health issues. This is because they feature a layer of slime rather than scales, which serves as a thick protective layer to all sorts of parasites and fungus..


As mentioned before, the Mandarin is a very picky and timid eater, making it a bit of an issue when trying to feed them. They will also have a tough time competing for food wiht other faster fish. They have been known too sometimes take frozen foods and pellets. More often though, you will have to feed them a variety of small live foods such as amphipods and copopods.

Tank Mates

Other species – The Mandarin Goby gets along very well with other species. This is due to the fact that they have a peaceful temperament, showing low aggression towards other species. In addition most other species seem to be unbothered/uninterested in the Goby.

Same Species – One male and one female will be able to live together. Two females can also live together but two males will not be able too unless your tank is larger than 125 Gallons.


Breeding the Fish

All of the Mandarin Goby’s in aquariums are wild caught. Nobody has successfully been able to breed and raise them in captivity.


Before you go: