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Redback Dragonet

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Species group:

Other common names:

Scientific name: Synchiropus tudorjonesi

The basics:
This gorgeous little gem made quite a splash in the aquarium world when it was first described in 2012. While some success has been had since, the Redback Dragonet feeds almost entirely upon zooplankton, and so proves a difficult captive for most.

The Redback Dragonet is native to coastal Indonesia, where it dwells on sandy bottoms littered with coral rubble.

Appearance / health:
This little beauty is “screaming” red in color, with black and white spots, and yellow along the lower portion of the body. The tall dorsal fin is barred with black, and red lines mark the tail. Adults top out at a mere 4.8 cm (1.9 in) in length.

Redback Dragonets are refuse all but copepods and other tiny live invertebrates, and, being cautious feeders, will starve if housed with fast-moving species. All Dragonets become subject to stress-related illnesses if not provided caves and other cover.

Behavior / temperament:
Redback Dragonets are shy but active, scuttling over the bottom in their continual search for food. They are best kept in pairs or single-male groups.

Housing:
This tiny live-food specialist must be kept in an aquarium that is stocked with rock/coral caves, live sand, and live rock. The tank should be well-established and seeded with copepods before Dragonets 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 Redback Dragonets: Temperature: 22-28 C (72-82 F); Specific Gravity (Salinity): 1.020-1.025; pH: 8.1-8.4.

Diet:
In addition to the minute invertebrates breeding in live sand and rock, the diet should include other tiny live foods, such as enriched (pre-fed) brine shrimp naupli, finely-chopped blackworms and glassworms, wild-collected plankton, and (most importantly) copepods. Redback Dragonets will not thrive unless they have near-continual access to food.

Breeding:
Pairs will only breed when well fed (often fighting otherwise). 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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