Here is a fish for those among us who love Peacock Cichlids, Largemouth Bass, and other beautifully colored predatory fish. The more frequently seen form is the variety with leopard spots, which is also quite attractive and very reminiscent of the pattern found on a Jaguar Cichlid. Wild varieties occurring in nature are protected here in Korea, but those that are farmed are readily available for sale.
- Origin: Korea, China, Vietnam
- Size: 33cm/ 13 inches
- Temperature: Room temperature is fine but can withstand higher and lower.
- Diet: Chopped Fish
The fish farms producing these fish started because they are a popular food item. In China, they have successfully crossed S. scherzeri with a related species, S. chuatsi.
The latter grows much larger than the Leopard Mandarin fish, but will only eat live food. The Leopard Mandarin will accept chopped fish making it much easier to raise in captivity. The result is a hybrid that has a rapid growth rate and eats chopped fish.
In nature, they are quite solitary although they are raised together on fish farms in floating nets. If you set up these fish in a bare aquarium, you can keep more than one however that is not a natural or ideal situation.
If you provide them with a natural looking tank, they establish large territories and attempt to drive all other fish away. They do this primarily through frightening, wide-mouth displays that rarely, if ever, result in actual damage to their target.
I have read online of people keeping them with large South American cichlids and knife fish, but this seems like quite a risk to me…at the very least, it will not be a very peaceful environment until everyone learns to avoid the Mandarin’s territory.
Wild specimens will only take live at first and need to be trained to take dead or chopped fish. They do not eat prawns or shrimp. Even newly hatched fry refuse brine shrimp and must be fed the fry of other fish.
Set the tank up with a sand or gravel bottom and add stones of various sizes. Create stable caves if possible as you would in an African cichlid tank, taking into account the ultimate size of this fish. 80 gallons/280 liters should be the minimum size for a single specimen. They like a good water flow so include a powerhead and extra aeration in their setup.
Eggs are laid on stones or in caves in the male’s territory. The male protects the spawn. Eggs hatch in 5 days and the young begin feeding before the yolk sac is absorbed starting on the second or third day after hatching. If you wait until the yolk is gone before feeding them, it results in deformities of organs, stunted growth, and/or death.
Imp Note: These fish apparently come to recognize their caregiver and will attempt to interact with their human.
The bright orange-lemon color morph is a naturally occurring mutation that is now being selectively bred for the aquarium trade.
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