Mandarin Fish Siniperca scherzeri
The sogari, as it is known in its native Korea, makes a unique and attractive show fish for the large home aquarium.
Siniperca scherzeri hails from flowing, oxygen-rich habitats
throughout parts of South Korea, China, and the Russian Far
East. Their attractive coloration of leopard rosettes camouflages
nicely against the river-rock substrate they are usually found in.
Mandarins are esteemed sport fish in their native lands but are
a rare treasure for hobbyists in the United States who collect
specimen fish for jumbo aquaria. This is a true freshwater
species that can reach a size of over 20 inches in length. Wesley
Wong of Rare Fish has imported these on several occasions.
In captivity these fish always remain cryptic, rarely venturing
to the front of the aquarium except at feeding time. S. scherzeri is
an ambush predator that lurks in the shelter of submersed rocks
and wood until a prey item passes by. Any meaty offerings are
accepted. Chopped market shrimp and smelt can be used as staples
for a tank of sogari. Mandarins are territorial and should be kept
with fishes equal to their own size in the confines of an aquarium.
The heralded firefish are well known to marine aquarists. Firefish are gobies (sometimes referred to as dartfish) that are brilliantly
colored, hardy residents for the saltwater aquarium. Much less
frequently imported is the Borneo hoverer.
Sometimes known as the estuarine dartfish, Parioglossus palustris is
a diminutive resident of the mangrove swamps of the western Pacific.
Like many other estuarine species, these too inhabit a huge range
from the Andaman Sea and western Pacific—including Indonesia,
Papua New Guinea, Australia, and Palau. In nature, Borneo hoverers
can be found in schools hovering over mangrove branches.
While this species might survive in the lightly salted, high-pH
home aquarium, for its well being house it in a system with brackish
conditions of 50: 50 marine and fresh water.
This is a delightful, charming, and delicately beautiful species of
goby that only requires several criteria to be met in order to do well.
Hoverers can be a little shy when initially introduced to their new
environment. Provide some form of shelter for these fish to feel secure.
Do not place dartfish
or Parioglossus will
surely retire and
decline. Fishes such as
bumblebee gobies and
small mollies make
Although they can
be found in schools in
nature, in the confines
of an aquarium
it is best to keep
this species singly.
Dartfish are tough on
Stan Sung has collected fish
worldwide, non-stop since 1988. His
love of tropical fish, photography, and
exploration has brought him from
the oases of Morocco to the jungles of
Malaysia. He’s particularly interested
in wild fish from South America
and Asia, and keeps a finger on the
pulse of the aquarium-fish industry
through relationships with Southern
California suppliers like Poseidon
Aquatics and Southland Aquatics,
as well as collectors and exporters
in South America, Australia,
Central America, and Asia.
photographs by the author
Place mandarins in spacious accommodations containing highly
oxygenated, room-temperature water. Hiding places are mandatory
for making these fish feel at ease. Leucistic (orange) specimens of
S. scherzeri are occasionally available.
Borneo Hoverer Parioglossuspalustris
conspecifics, and submissive individuals will eventually wither away.
Keep their enclosure tightly covered, as these streamlined gobies are
excellent leapers that will find their way out of the tightest openings.
Offer small food items such as baby brine shrimp, frozen and live
adult brine shrimp, frozen bloodworms, and daphnia. These fish
are not particular and will consume most suitably sized offerings.
Although 2-inch adults are easily sexable (females are less colorful,
with more-subdued finnage and a plumper abdomen), P. palustris
have probably not been bred in captivity at this time. I have
observed schools of these in the mangrove thickets of far northern
Queensland. The hostile swamps are home to the fearsome salties
(saltwater crocodiles)—funny how nature can create something so
delicate and fine as these hoverers, and something so fearsome as
the saltwater crocodile!