The Western Australian Mandarin Dragonet

Synchiropus picturatus occidentalis. Image courtesy of ACRO AL

The Western Australian Mandarin Dragonet (Synchiropus picturatus occidentalis) is a subspecies of the the common Green Spot Mandarin.  Its limited distribution around Western Australia (Southeast of Elphik’s Knob, northeastern end of Rosemary Island, Dampier Islands) and its reclusive habits make in-situ sightings very rare and captive specimens even rarer.

Imagine our excitement when we received not only a photo but a video of the Western Australian Mandarin Dragonet.  The video comes to us courtesy of ‘ACRO AL’ taken of a specimen at Vebas Aquariums in Perth, Australia, where this specimen currently resides in their show tank.  Even in captivity, sightings of this mandarin is said to be a rare event.

A common Green Spot Mandarin
A common Green Spot Mandarin

When compared to the common Green Spot Mandarin (S.picturatus) pictured on the right, the Western Australian subspecies is what we can best describe as “inversely colored.”  The main body is orange (vs green), and most of its spots lack the dark interior pigmentation, thus giving them a ring-like appearance.  Numerous distinctive green/teal dots cover the Western Australian Mandarin Dragonet’s entire body, including dots within the rings.  This subspecies also has dual parallel white stripes running across each eye similar to sixline wrasses.

Very little information exists about this subspecies, and no information exists about its captive care that we know of.  In all likelihood, the Western Australian Mandarin Dragonet has similar requirements as the Green Spot Mandarin.  But chances are, you’ll never encounter one in your lifetime.

Follow Us!
Get the latest reef aquarium news in your email.