The mandarin dragonet is a fish which needs no introduction to seasoned and beginner saltwater aquarists alike. The psychedelic pattern of this fish makes it one of the most recognizable small reef fish, but its preference for live foods makes it a challenge to keep in an aquarium over the long term.
Unlike other marine fish which will easily acclimate to eating affordable and readily available foods, mandarin dragonets, particularly wild ones, pretty much demand live foods. This is where captive breeding really shines, since captive bred fish have been nurtured and grown on prepared foods, like pellets and frozen copepod offerings.
However, Biota Palau’s mandarins have turned out to be a huge hit with reef keepers, especially folks who don’t have a mature reef tank which is packed with natural live prey items. It’s one thing, and an incredible thing that the Biota Mandarins will accept frozen copepods as youngsters, but recently reports have been making the rounds that these fish are beginning to accept flake foods!
Well the other night we caught our very own pair eating flake food, and as you can see they are not skinny by any stretch of the imagination. It’s incredibly exciting to see such a finicky eater consuming one of the most common and readily available foods with gusto, and it proves that captive bred fish can be a totally different animal from their wild counterparts.