AppearanceTo date, ''S. splendidus'' is one of only two vertebrate species known to have blue colouring because of cellular pigment, the other being the closely related psychedelic mandarin . The name "cyanophore" was proposed for the blue chromatophores, or pigment-containing and light-reflecting cells. In all other known cases, the colour blue comes from thin-film interference from piles of flat, thin and reflecting purine crystals.
NamingThe mandarinfish was first described as ''Callionymus splendidus'' in 1927 by Albert William
Herre, an American ichthyologist working in the Philippines. It was later placed in genus ''Synchiropus''. The generic name ''Synchiropus'' is from Ancient Greek ''syn-'', meaning "together", and ''-chiropus'' meaning "hand-foot". The specific epithet ''splendidus'' is from Latin for splendid.
The common name of the mandarinfish comes from its extremely vivid colouration, evoking the robes of an Imperial Chinese mandarin.
Other common names include mandarin goby, green mandarin, striped mandarinfish, striped dragonet, green dragonet and sometimes psychedelic mandarinfish.
The similarly named mandarin fish , properly known as the Chinese perch, is only distantly related.
The mandarinfish belongs to the perciform family Callionymidae, the dragonets, which counts 10 genera and more than 182 species. Genus ''Synchiropus'' counts 51 species, divided into 10 subgenera. The mandarinfish is in subgenus ''Synchiropus'' along with the Australian LSD-fish and the LSD- or psychedelic fish .
HabitatMandarinfish are reef dwellers, preferring sheltered lagoons and inshore reefs. While they are slow-moving and fairly common within their range, they are not easily seen due to their bottom-feeding habit and their small size . They feed primarily on small crustaceans and other invertebrates.
FoodBased on the gut analyses of 7 wild fish Sadovy ''et al.'' determined that the mandarinfish has a mixed diet that consists of harpacticoid copepods, polychaete worms, small gastropods, gammaridean amphipods, fish eggs and ostracods.
In the wild, feeding is continuous during daytime; the fish peck selectively at small prey trapped on coral substrate in a home range of many square meters.
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