, Volume 3, Issue 4, pp 253-263

Early Development of the Mandarinfish, Synchiropus splendidus (Callionymidae), with notes on its Fishery and Potential for Culture

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The mandarinfish, Synchiropus splendidus, is a small, pelagic-spawning enthic dragonet of the western Pacific. Although popular in the marine aquarium trade, little is known of its fishery or biology. All aquarium-trade animals are currently taken from the wild and the impact of heavy collecting is unknown. The specialized and selective nature of the fishery for mandarinfish is described and its potential to disrupt the mating system identified. As a possible alternative to wild capture and as an aid to sustainable exploitation, egg production and early development relevant to mariculture are described, including egg output, embryo, larva and post-settlement development to 30 days, based on live material. Egg output was determined for 40 females and ranged from 12 to 205 eggs. Embryo and larva development were rapid, with settlement occurring within 14 days at 24–26 °C, and at 3.5 mm TL. The swimbladder is retained in adults. Our limited attempts at raising the mandarinfish to settlement were encouraging and suggest an excellent potential for mariculture with implications for both conservation and improved maintenance of fish in captivity. At present, given that this species is difficult to maintain in captivity, it is only suitable for experienced aquarists. Preliminary diet information is provided.