Mandarin Dragonet Tank Setup

When acquiring a new fish, whether you are new to the hobby or a seasoned veteran - knowing how to set up your aquarium correctly is perhaps the most important piece of knowledge to have.

So, in today's guide, I will be looking at the beautiful green mandarin dragonet, (Synchiropus splendidus) and more specifically, how you can simply perform a mandarin dragonet tank setup with minimal hassle and expense.

There always seems to be the feeling of “Did I miss something?” when setting up a saltwater aquarium, and this can often be the case. But if you can follow this guide to a “T” then you and your mandarin dragonet will live happy and healthy lives together.

Due to fish tank setups being best conducted in stages, I will be running you through this guide in a step-by-step format, making things easy to follow, understand, and replicate.

Below is an image I created of the mandarin dragonet with an overview of their requirements and general information:

Tank Size and Water Requirements

First things first with a mandarin dragonet tank setup, you must learn the correct tank size, water parameters, and temperature for your mandarin dragonet to live a healthy and long life.

Let's take a look!

Mandarin Fish Tank Size

When it comes to the size of your fish tank, I always say the bigger the better as it gives your fish more space to explore and play in, and also allows you to add other inhabitants without the fear of an overcrowded tank.

The same certainly applies to green mandarinfish. Despite being small fish, mandarin dragonets deserve to reside in big enough tanks to make them feel happy and comfortable.

So, the minimum mandarin fish tank size would be a 30-gallon (113.5 liters) nano fish tank. 

Below is a graphic I created of some classic 30 gallon tank dimensions so you know how much space you need in your home, apartment, or office:

However, the best tank size for them is a 40-gallon (151.4 liters) or even a 50-gallon (189.3 liters) tank!

This will provide you with enough space to add suitable rockwork for your dragonet to hide and play in, which will reduce stress and put them at ease, as well as provide them with their main food source, copepods!

These critters typically reside on rockwork in the wild, and therefore should be provided with some in captivity too.

One final thing about the size of their tank - the bigger the reef aquarium, the less excess food will ruin your water quality, which usually leads to a plethora of problems!

Water Parameters

Cycling your saltwater aquarium is a must if you are introducing new fish. The parameters must be stable before you add your striped mandarin fish to it.

Fortunately, the striped mandarinfish is an extremely hardy fish that can handle swings and changes in parameters. However, keeping things stable is obviously what you need to do.

Here's what to follow:

  • The salinity range should be between 1.023-1.025 SG.
  • Your tank's pH level needs to be between 8.1 and 8.4.
  • Water hardness must be between 8 to 12 dKH.
  • Water flow should be low with partial water changes occurring on a frequent basis.

I have created a downloadable graph below that summarizes all the mandarin dragonet water requirements:

Temperature Range

Realistically, due to their impressively hardy nature, your mandarin dragonet can handle a rather large temperature range.

This isn't to say that you shouldn't be keeping an eye on the temperature of your water with a good aquarium thermometer.

In fact, you need to constantly monitor this as inconsistencies within your tank can still prove to be detrimental to your mandarin fish.

So, ensure that your water temperature ranges between 72°F - 82°F or 22°C to 28°C for all my European readers!

Once you have established a consistent temperature, ensure it stays there, as mentioned previously - you do not want massive water temperature spikes or drops, regardless of how hardy your fish is.

Dietary Requirements

Getting your fish's diet right is 100% up there with the most important aspects of owning a marine fish.

If you do not get their diet spot on, you will run into health complications down the road, which can result in some dire consequences for your fish.

Mandarin Dragonet Ideal Diet

The main diet for these mandarin dragonets is copepods, with live copepods being the more ideal of the two. However, they do sometimes enjoy feeding on frozen foods such as mysis shrimp or brine shrimp, but they will NOT accept any dried food.

Frozen alternatives are good because live foods, whilst being ideal for your mandarin dragonet are hard to feed your fish consistently as they are rather pricey and require a lot of time and effort that you may not have!

As mentioned, their main diet should consist of copepods, so, you will need plenty of live rock for them to colonize and then become a meal. You can add live copepods to your aquarium by purchasing them online.

Copepods have variations, such as tisbee pods and apocalypse pods, but they all serve the exact same purpose. So, don't worry too much about which type you acquire.

Tank Mates & Fish Compatibility

Something many forget when it comes to a proper fish tank setup is compatible tank mates! For some reason, this step is seemingly overlooked all the time, but that needs to stop as you could argue it is one of, if not the most important factor in your fish's health and happiness.

Mandarin Tank Mates (Compatibility Guide)

The green mandarin fish is, fortunately, a very peaceful fish. However, there are still plenty of fish that must be kept away from them at all costs and this peaceful nature may not actually be super beneficial for them!

Let me explain - due to their general lax attitude and peaceful behavior, they are terrible at competing with other fish for food, which is why you have to cater very specifically to them and make sure that they are eating enough of their already fussy diet.

Also, despite their peaceful nature, they do not play particularly well with their own kind, especially if they are housed with a same-sex mandarin fish. Sure, it is possible for a pair of mandarin dragonets, but you should make sure they are from opposite sexes.

Tank mates to avoid for your dragonet are as follows:

  • Same-sex dragonets
  • Eels
  • Lobsters
  • Large crabs
  • Wrasses (especially the six line wrasse)
  • Lionfish
  • Triggerfish

Mandarin dragonets have a protective slime coating that typically prevents them from being eaten by predatory fish.

However, lionfish, triggerfish, and eels are all stupid enough to give it a go, which can result in a bunch of dead fish. So, probably best to avoid housing them with the fish mentioned above!

There are friendly fish that are perfectly suited to mandarin dragonets, such as clownfish, chromisfish, royal grammas, pajama cardinalfish, and many more.

You want to keep them with tank mates of a similar peaceful nature and a similar small size, that requires almost all of the same things when it comes to green mandarin fish care!

Mandarin Dragonet Setup - Final Thoughts

This gorgeous, Western Pacific reef fish has to be one of the most stunning creatures in the saltwater hobby. And the great thing about them is that they are easy to get hold of, and do not require an expert experience level to look after them!

If you follow this guide on how to perform a mandarin dragonet tank setup, you should have no problems creating the perfect environment to house your own, for many, many years.

Good luck with your green mandarin fish care, and I hope you have enjoyed this article on one of my favorite fish!