One of the most lovely, colourful and charming fish in the sea is Mandarinfish. It is a small and smart fish which is popular in salty warm waters. This fish type is very popular among divers due to its colorful beauty and interesting behaviors. Mandarin fish diving is a very trendy sport dive among holidaymakers. They like to take photos of these nice and shy tropical fish species as they dart here and there amongst the coral.
Mandarinfish usually dwell in reefs, they prefer sheltered lagoon and inshore reefs. Their diet, fish eggs, ostracism, small gastropods, small shrimps and other elemental organisms are included in the mandarinfish’s feeding habits. I must say when observing them that they do not rush while they are eating. Firstly they explore and examine carefully their food and only then start eating. If you have an opportunity to meet them during their lunch, I draw your attention to their big outward-set eyes. It allows them to orientate well in the surrounding area and not end up themselves as food whilst they nibble at their lunch. As the mandarinfish regularly eats during the day time, the chance to watch them is high.
When the night time comes, the mating game begins. Dusk is a very particular and intriguing time when one of the most charming events in the aquatic world takes place the “mating of mandarinfish”.
You will need certain equipment and some special delicate diving skills if you want to see mandarinfish mating underwater. They are rather small and dart in and out of your view very quickly. One can appear for some seconds and then disappear into the dusk. So you have to try and catch those moments on your camera, because they stay away from any bright lights. Diving with mandarins really can turn into a miraculous trip in oceanic waters.
What are the characteristic features of mandarinfish? In reality, their names come from fantastic and weird skin coloration. It is said to remind one of the robes of an Imperial Chinese representative mandarin.
A typical coloration is blue background with wavy lines. These lines can be of different colors: yellow, orange, purple, blue, green etc. During the day they behavior is of an isolationist, hiding or feeding in the coral branches. Their swimming is vivacious and pulsating, that is why they look like they are hovering and are great camera subjects.
There are certain types of mandarinfish which are distinguished by their colouring and others that are named by the various forms and shapes of their heads and body.
Commonly these fishes can reach just six centimeters in length. The male of the species is larger in size, so you spot them easily.
When the sun sets, some females go to the reef and wait there. A bit later on the males start to appear and begin their courtships, spread their seed among these females to initiate the breeding process. The fortunate male will then gain the company of a female which will rest on his pelvic fin. Then they slide belly-to-belly and rise in the water as if in a paired dance up and in a spiral dance for around one meter. Eventually the eggs are fertilized with the sperm and the event moves onto the next couple.
Thus the mating ritual is a worthwhile diving event not to miss. Any amateur diver would be excited to be diving with Mandarin fish, especially during mating period. If you want to find them, go to corals, coral rubble beds carefully take your time and you discover a lot of mandarinfish even though they are very shy. Even your breathing can scare them away so think stealth and swim slowly and gently. Mandarin fish diving is considered to be one of the most wonderful trips in the oceanic waters.