I want to introduce you to another animal that I will most definitely miss when I leave my aquarium job in a few days to become a full time mother. For years and years these little guys have been on the top of my favorite list. This is a male mandarin fish, Synchiropus splendidus, and he's splendid indeed! This is one hilarious fish. Once he sees you lurking outside his tank he will follow your finger all over the glass if you put it out for him to follow.
When he's showing off he'll lift that amazingly colored dorsal fin as tall as it can get as if to say, "this is MY territory!" It's believed that the colors are there as a warning, as these fish give off a foul-tasting mucus if you attempt to eat them. Not that I would, they are way too much fun and far too beautiful.
We keep this species for two reasons. First, they're simply just a pretty little fish and the public loves them. And second, they love to eat flatworms which can plague salt water reef aquaria.
I will really miss them during my morning check-ins when I make sure all the animals are OK, their life support is running, and there's no major floods anywhere. This particular individual is always hanging out right in front of the glass and always lets me "play" with him for a few minutes while I'm scrubbing the nose, hand and face prints off the windows from the previous day's visitors.
While playing around with my camera a few years back I attempted to capture them. It's tough. They rarely sit still long enough.
But I did get these photos and if you play around with i photo some of the colors really turn into art. These are close-ups of that amazing dorsal fin. The first one is just a crop of the real thing. Nature sure is the best artist.
This one was altered by iphoto, even more amazing when you boost the colors!
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