Mandarin Fish: Critter of the Vibrant Lembeh

Lembeh Strait is a diver’s paradise with an array of unique marine life. Among the many underwater creatures that can be found here, Mandarin fish are some of the most striking and fascinating. But what’s so special about this fish? Isn’t it just like any other fish? A quick search for the fish, and I’ll guarantee you’ll be searching for ‘the best camera for macrophotography’ next!

What are Mandarin Fish?

Mandarin fish, also known as mandarinfish or dragonets, belong to the family Callionymidae. They have quite difficult Latin name, Synchiropus splendidus. As the name said, they are splendid indeed. I do think it is hard to memorize. If you have friends to impress, just throw around the word Synchiropus splendidus, I bet you’ll be seen as super smart. They are native to the tropical waters of the Pacific Ocean and are typically found living among coral reefs and rubble fields. Take your notes! If you want to find them, think of tropical Southeast Asia instead of the Russian North!

Male Mandarin fish have stunning blue and orange stripes with intricate patterns on their fins, making them stand out in the underwater landscape. Females, on the other hand, have a brownish-red body with a more subdued appearance. Mandarin fish prefer areas with hiding places, such as coral heads, rubble fields, and seagrass beds.

Unique Breeding Behavior of Mandarin Fish

One of the most interesting aspects of this fish is their unique breeding behavior. During mating season, which typically occurs between April and July, male Mandarin fish perform an elaborate dance to attract a mate. The dance involves spinning and jumping (wait, what?), and it’s a fascinating sight to behold. Once the female has chosen a mate, the two fish will mate and the female will lay her eggs. If it reminds you of something else, it’s probably peacocks!

Diving in Lembeh Strait

If you’re interested in seeing Mandarin fish up close, Lembeh Strait is one of the best places in the world to do it. The muck diving in Lembeh is perfect for spotting these stunning fish, as well as other critters that live in the sandy, silty bottom. There are many protected dive sites in Lembeh Strait and just like anybody else, the critters of Lembeh don’t like rude visitors banging their homes.

When diving in Lembeh Strait, it’s a good idea to dive with a knowledgeable guide who knows where to find Mandarin fish. They can be found in shallow waters, often hiding in coral heads and other hiding places. To spot Mandarin fish, you’ll need to keep your eyes peeled and be patient. They are most active during breeding season, but can be seen year-round in Lembeh Strait. Our diving instructors in Yos Dive Lembeh probably knows their mating season better than the soon-to-be-over wedding schedules of celebrities.


If you’re a scuba diver looking for a unique and fascinating underwater experience, Lembeh Strait is a destination you won’t want to miss. And if you’re looking for Mandarin fish, you’ll find plenty to love here. With their bright colors and unique breeding habits, Mandarin fish are a must-see for any underwater photographer or critter lover.

Yos Dive Lembeh provides the necessary things needed for a fabulous diving experience. If you’re lucky enough, you might see this ‘saltwatter Betta’ or two. Yes, I’m being heretical here, but damn they do remind me of really fine Bettas. So pack your bags, grab your dive gear, and get ready to discover the fascinating world of Mandarin fish in Lembeh!

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