Mandarinfish are a small, colorful species, popular among aquarium enthusiasts for their wonderful aesthetic value. They are native to the waters of the Pacific, with a long range of habitat from Japanese islands to Australia. Named for its resemblance to the brightly colored robes of the Imperial Chinese mandarin, the mandarinfish is one of only two known species to have blue coloring because of actual cell pigmentation, rather than being created by reflective crystals in the animal’s skin. Because of its bright coloring, you may think that it would be highly visible, but the mandarinfish compensates by being a bottom-feeder in sheltered lagoons and reefs, spending the majority of its time foraging for food. Although they are desirable to aquarists for their colors, they can be difficult to keep because of the specific diet they require, namely, what they would find in the wild. They do not adapt easily to aquarium food, preferring live creatures like amphipods, small crustaceans, and other invertebrates. It should be noted that the mandarinfish is a different species than the mandarin fish, a freshwater perch found in still waters of China. But you can’t possibly mistake a mandarinfish for anything else!