Japanese Dragonet

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Species group:

Other common names:

Scientific name: Neosynchiropus ijimai

The basics:
The Japanese Dragonet stands out as being one of the most “showy” of all family members– not an easy task among such a flamboyant group! Native to temperate/cool waters, its aquarium may require a chiller in warm locales.

The Japanese Dragonet is found in the Northwestern Pacific Ocean, where it ranges along the coastline of Japan and (according to some sources), Korea. Favored habitats include rocky reefs and ledges.

Appearance / health:
The body is mottled with red, pink, and white, and bears a huge dorsal fin that is sculpted in “dragon-like” fashion. Adults reach 7 cm (3 in) in length.

Japanese Dragonets are not able to compete with fast-moving fish, and will starve unless given special care or housed alone. They will be stressed if not provided with rock caves and other hiding places.

Behavior / temperament:
Japanese Dragonets are very active, scuttling and hopping over the bottom in their continual quest for food. As little is known of their social structure, they are best housed singly or in mated pairs.

The Japanese Dragonet aquarium should be stocked with rock/coral caves, live sand, and live rock. The tank must be well-established (i.e. 8-12 months old) before the fish are added, so that large populations of the tiny invertebrates upon which they feed will be present.

The following water quality parameters should be maintained for Japanese Dragonets: Temperature: 20-23 C (68-74 F); Specific Gravity (Salinity): 1.020-1.025; pH: 8.1-8.4. They will not thrive if kept at typical reef aquarium temperatures.

In addition to the tiny invertebrates breeding in live sand and rock, the diet should include a variety of live foods such as enriched (pre-fed) brine shrimp, Mysis, blackworms, glassworms, and copepods. Japanese Dragonets, in common with related species, need near-constant access to food.

Breeding habits have not been well studied in the wild or captivity. Related species will only reproduce when well fed. The eggs are released at night as the pair swims towards the surface. The minute fry are difficult to rear unless continually supplied with live rotifers, wild-caught plankton, and similar foods.

Written by Frank Indiviglio

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