The largest species, the longtail dragonet (Callionymus gardineri) reaches a length of 30 centimetres. At the other end of the scale, the St. Helena dragonet (Callionymus sanctaehelenae) reaches a length of just 2 centimetres. Many species exhibit marked sexual dimorphism: males and females are coloured and patterned differently, and (in addition to the spine filament) males have a much higher dorsal fin. This theme is taken to extremes in the high-finned dragonet (Synchiropus rameus).
Spawning involves elaborate courtship displays; the males show off their flashy fins and repeatedly open and close their mouths. If the female is interested, pairing occurs and the two fish rise upwards with male supporting the female on his pectoral fins. Eggs and sperm are released in midwater, where fertilization takes place. The buoyant eggs subsequently become part of the plankton, drifting with the currents until hatching.
The most common commercially available dragonets are the mandarin dragonet, the psychedelic mandarin dragonet and the ocellated dragonet, or scooter blenny. They are considered to be reef safe and do best in reef aquariums of 55 gallons or larger with large amounts of live rock. There are many reports of spawning in captivity, but it is difficult to find dragonets that have been born and bred in captivity because they require a considerable area of sand or rock to find enough food.
Although their bright colours and showy fins make them a popular choice for the aquarium, most dragonets are picky eaters and will only accept live food, making them difficult to keep in captivity. They do not readily accept prepared foods and often starve soon after purchase. As stated earlier, larger tanks are desired because they can support a larger population of the copepods and amphipods which make up the bulk of their diet in the wild. Some success has been had feeding brine or mysis shrimps.
Addition of Blacklip Dragonet, Synchiropus atrilabiatus (Garman, 1899) (Pisces: Callionymidae) to the California Ichthyofauna.(Statistical Data Included)
Dec 01, 2001; Ami K. Groce (1) Richard H. Rosenblatt (2) M. James Allen (3) Dragonets (family Callionymidae) are small, often colorful,...