The mandarinfish is native to the Western Pacific ranging approximately from the Ryukyu Islands south to Australia. It is generally found at depths of 1-20 m, preferring sheltered lagoons and inshore reefs. The mandarinfish has a mixed diet that consists of harpacticoid copepods, polychaete worms, small gastropods, gammaridean amphipods, fish eggs and ostracods. In the wild, feeding is continuous during daytime; the fish pecks selectively at small prey trapped on coral substrate in a home range of many square-meters. They tend to sleep on the sand during the night, and may turn very pale and even become half-submerged.