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The Mandarinfish is a small, brightly colored member of the dragonet family, which is popular in the saltwater aquarium trade. The mandarinfish is native to the Pacific, ranging approximately from the Ryukyu Islands south to Australia. Mandarinfish 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 (reaching only about 6 cm). They feed primarily on small crustaceans and other invertebrates. Based on the gut analyses of 7 wild fish Sadovy et al. (2001) 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. Despite their popularity in the aquarium trade, mandarinfish are considered difficult to keep, as their feeding habits are very specific. Some fish never adapt to aquarium life, refusing to eat anything but live amphipods and copepods (as in the wild), though individuals that do acclimatize to aquarium food are considered to be quite hardy and highly resistant to diseases such as marine ich. They are less likely to contract the disease Cryptocaryon, because they do not have the skin type that this common aquarium disease affects. The mandarinfish appeared on a 39 kip postage stamp from Laos issued in 1987, and a 40 cent postage stamp of the Federated States of Micronesia issued on 26 August 1993. [READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE]
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