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Spotted Mandarin


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Spotted Mandarin

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Feeding by the dragonet occurs throughout the day, including the intervals between courtships and spawning. The fish feeds entirely on benthic sources, primarily copepods, amphipods, and other small invertebrates living on blades of sea grass. Among dragonet species, amphipods are the most plentiful prey during the spring and winter months. The fish also supplement their diets with polychaetes, bivalves, and gastropods in these periods. During the summer, the dragonets feed primarily on amphipods. Finally, in the fall, the two species predominantly consume polychaetes, amphipods, and gastropods, with polychaetes contributing the highest amount. In defense against its predators, the dragonet rapidly buries itself under the sand at the bottom of the ocean so that only its eyes remain visible. Many species of the fish also are capable of producing and secreting foul-tasting and -smelling substances that may ward off any potential predators.

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