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FAQs on Mandarins/Psychedelic "Gobies"/Dragonets/  "Scooters" & their Relatives 2

Related Articles: Psychedelic "Gobies"/Dragonets/Mandarins, real Gobies & their Relatives,

Related FAQs: Mandarins 1, Mandarins 3Mandarin Identification, Mandarin Behavior, Mandarin Systems, Mandarin Compatibility, Mandarin Selection, Mandarin Feeding, Mandarin Disease/HealthMandarin Reproduction, Microcrustaceans

Scooter blenny dragonet) anatomy Mr. Fenner (or whoever reads this), I would like to keep an eye on my scooter blenny to make sure he stays nice and plump, but I don't know where to look on his body! Any information on this would be great! <The stomach area just behind and below its pectoral fins. Take a look here, http://www.wetwebmedia.com/mandarins.htm, for pictures at the bottom of the similar Green Mandarin in good shape and losing weight.> Thanks
<No sweat. -Steven Pro>

STUPID &$*#@ BOOK!!!!!! AHHHH!!!!! A friendly ID question Hello all (ever know who I'll get). I took home my 1st psychedelic today so I decided to re-re-read anything on hand pertaining to them for fun. I picked up the Baensch Marine Atlas #1 and glanced at the notes. upon glancing at their colorful pictures I made an unnerving discovery that has since shaken my faith in identifying what seemed to be the most identifiable fish, sexually speaking. There were 2 pictures of mandarins each displaying the prominent dorsal "sail" yet the foot note to each listed both as a female. I was shocked. I reread the notes on sexing them and the book states that the male has LARGER dorsal spine/ray and caudal fins. OK, so does this mean that the female has the same prominent dorsal ray but the male has an obscenely oversized one by comparison, or is it the case that the male has the big ray and the female has nothing noticeable projecting from her back? <They are different... I suspect they are males pictured in Baensch (pp 1148-9)... and most often encountered, photographed as "competing" in the wild, and the vast majority of those imported are males (females not as good looking, don't sell nearly as well> I swore I saw mandarins with nothing there at all, but that was early on in my experience and since then I have only encountered what I believed to be males. Here's a pic of my "male" mandarin. It's almost embarrassing to have you look at it as it seems so obviously male to me, yet the other mandarins listed as females had flared out similarly sized dorsal rays in the book. I'm completely lost regarding the psychedelic as the little bugger has the dorsal ray but it is so tiny (as is the rest of its body). This is why reading is dangerous!!!! <Mmm, take a look at the pix of Synchiropus splendidus on fishbase.org (click on the image on the species coverage and the others will come up). You will see the sexual dimorphism, dichromatism I think... thought the specimens (sigh) are not labeled as to sex. Bob Fenner>

Mandarin Lifespan Hi Bob, I am very interested in the natural life span of Mandarin . For the last 2 years, I got a pair that regularly spawned in my 400 g reef tank. I'd like to know what is the longest length of time anyone have keep these beautiful fish in their reef tank? TIA <I just took a look on fishbase.org with Steve.P re the Green/Picturatus species most used in the trade... they have 2.74 years as the age history data... but may well live longer (sans predators, scratching for a living...) in captivity. Perhaps some of the European public aquariums (you can search their websites for this) have longer longevity records. Bob Fenner> Minh Nguyen

Stumped Bob, Thanks for the reply. I am not 100% sure what species of serpent star I have but I have attached a pretty good picture. Could he be the suspect? <Take a look on the Net where I've sent you... or do a search for Green Serpent Star...> Also you mentioned a humongous polychaete worm could be responsible. Incidentally, I do have two worms living in the substrate, that came with the live rock. We weren't sure what they were so we put them in. They are a white color and look almost like an earthworm. I can see on the bottom of my glass where they travel around in the substrate. I never actually see them though. This latest Mandarin was at least 3 inches long - is it possible for such a worm to do this? Thanks so much. John <I vote for the Star... Bob Fenner>

Stumped Hello again Gentlemen, <Hello> A update and a question - Firstly, I am low on oxygen in my 90 gal reef. I received an oxygen test kit as you suggested. I got a Red Sea test kit but it seems to be a little hard to read due the colours but I have put an airstone in the refugium and it seems to be helping. Now the question - Many months ago I got a Mandarin Goby due to my lack of knowledge. In a day or two it was nowhere to be found. We chalked it up to being unable to survive in our tank without the live food, but were unsure since it was only in there a day or two, and surely it would not have starved in that short period of time. At that time the system had only been up an running for about 3 months. Now we are up and running for about 7 months, and with an installed refugium for about four months. The other day I purchased another Mandarin Goby feeling the system was probably ready now. I am sorry to report that after being in there for two days, this Mandarin has disappeared without a trace as well. I have not seen it since yesterday. I honestly feel it has perished, but why so quickly. No way it could have starved in two days. I also have the following in my system: 90 lbs live rock 1 yellow tang 1 hippo tang 1 purple Firefish 1 flame angel 1 royal Gramma 2 Percula clowns 2 emerald green crabs 3 starfish 1 serpent star <What species? Please see here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/brittlestars.htm esp. re Ophiarachna> 2 cleaner shrimp various corals pinked tip anemone  <Mmm, this could be the culprit as well.> quite a few hermits and snails All of the animals have been in my system for the entire time and I have never really lost anything except the first Mandarin. The water is fine: Ammonia -0 Nitrite - 0 Nitrate - 0 Phosphate - 0 Calcium 360 (little low) PH - 8.5 <All fine> Do you have any suggestion on what may have happened to these two Mandarinfish. I am stumped? Thanks in advance. <Might have "jumped" (happens all the time) out of the system. May have been consumed by the Serpentstar, perhaps engulfed by the Anemone by mistake... Possibly you have a Mantis, Pistol Shrimp, larger crab species, even a humongous polychaete worm of some sort that consumed it... I would "go fishing" at night with a baited line, perhaps a plastic "mouse trap" (sold by hardware stores as well as pet-fish outlets) rigged with a meaty food at night... Bob Fenner> John

"Scooter blennies" Hi Bob, <Howdy> Your website is awesome, I love it! I especially like the heavy use of taxonomic terms and how you refer to different genus types and how they differ. I was reading the FAQ's on Leopard Sharks (T. semifasciata) and recall you naming "scooter blennies" (s. ocellatus?) as a cool water species that fairs poorly when collected during the winter (thermal changes, etc.) which made sense to me at the time. on the Dragonet information, it states they hail from the eastern and south Pacific from the Ryukyus to Oceania. Is there another similarly colored sister species found in California waters or is s. ocellatus a trans-Pacific species, with some being collected in warm waters and others from the temperate waters off California? <Sorry for the confusion. Hopefully your well-written query here will serve to inform others, prompt me to alter the current write-up posted on WWM re this issue. In "the old days", other species, actually whole other families representatives were used/sold as "Scooter Blennies". THE Scooter is almost always Synchiropus ocellatus nowadays... and as you've pointed out, found in the tropical west Pacific. It is indeed a tropical fish... as far as I'm aware no eastern Pacific fishes are currently caught, sold as "Scooters", though you can see "scooting" Sculpins (family Cottidae) et al. in the wild and public aquariums hereabouts. Bob Fenner> Thanks, Tracy

Mandarin Smokescreens Hi Bob & Friends (never know who will field my questions) <Neither do we> I have had my male mandarin in a 40 high for 6 months now (with a rockpool blenny, an ocellaris, and a snowflake moray) and I cannot get an answer on this question for the life of me. What is that little cloud that he shoots out of the two jets across his back? <He's poofing... okay, not!> My 1st theory was that he was dusting himself with his toxin and or mucus. Other thoughts included throwing off a "scent" for territorial or mating reasons. I have seen a black seahorse fire a similar inky cloud somewhere else as well as a fish that escapes my memory. So again, what is it and why is it doing it? <Both of what you suggest. The Callionymids, commonly called Dragonets, Mandarins, Scooter Blennies... are notably a "slimy" lot... and though pretty slow moving, often brightly marked/colored, obviously not very targeted prey species. You don't see them being pursued, consumed in the wild or captivity much.> BTW I painstakingly researched the habits of this guy and consulted you before throwing him in. I have over 60 lbs. of encrusted live rock and currently he's trying to corral some of the 150 live mysids I just tossed in there today. This pic is a week old. Thanks for the help! <Whatever substance/s in their copious body mucus, some part makes them out to not be palatable. Please read: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fbodyslimfsh.htm Along with the family coverage, I will be placing your notes in the FAQs file here. Be chatting, Bob Fenner>

Mandarin Question Hi guys (I write that never knowing who'll answer), <Anthony Calfo in your service> My question is about a mandarin I just introduced to my tank. My tank is a 125 gallon with a lot of fully cured live rock and live sand (about 120lbs.).  <if the tank is also over a year old and has few if any planktivores it sounds almost perfect <smile>> I just got over a bout w/ ick and have since changed my tank to reef/fish instead of just fish. I have some star polyps and mushrooms etc. My tank is positively "infested" with copepods and amphipods everywhere!  <outstanding... with the mandarin now... resist putting in competitors like damsels, Pseudochromis, clowns, small wrasses and the like. Stick with herbivores to favor the mandarin> I have a skimmer (just a Prizm for now) and huge two chamber wet/dry and excellent water quality, finally my question "Do you think I'll be able to properly care for this fish and keep him fat long term?"  <all depends on the tank mates as long as you go without an upstream refugium. To be honest... I still wouldn't put money on longer than 18 months. Mandarins need systems that can produce copepods over the long haul. Such systems are years old, have deep sand beds, above tank fishless seagrass refugiums and little or no planktivorous competitors. When these needs are met, mandarins can easily be spawned and fry reared!!! Most people, however are tempted to compromise these fish in community tanks and hence the reason for typically short captive life spans. They really are great fishes that can be easily kept when their specific needs are met> He looks very healthy and I've read a great deal about them, I'd like your opinion. I only plan on adding a few tangs and some clean up crew inverts, will these guys be too much feeding competition? Thanks for any more insight. Spencer <the tangs sounds great... I wish you the best of luck with the beautiful mandarin. Anthony>

Scooter Dragonette's eggs poisonous? I just read on this web page, http://www.animalnetwork.com/fish2/aqfm/1998/may/shell/default.asp , that Scooter Blenny eggs are poisonous. (You can search for the word "scooter" in that page and find what I'm talking about.) I never heard that before... I wonder if I had a female Scooter, would it pose a danger to other tank inhabitants who might consume the eggs? Maybe I should just get a male Scooter. <No real worries re this possibility... small likelihood. The "signals" that might cause the female dragonet to lay eggs are not present> I think it's possible, based on a description of Scooter spawning behavior that I've read on your site, that the eggs are buried in the substrate, so maybe they would pose less of a danger there, if they are poisonous. What do you think? <I would not be overly-concerned. Callionymids are egg-scatterers, but will not generally disperse gametes w/o both sexes present, propitious circumstances... Bob Fenner>

scooter blennies (dragonets), Spawning Dragonets Hi, thanks for all the answers in advance!!! <always welcome, my friend... Anthony Calfo in your service> I have a pair of scooter blennies, they've been in my tank for about 9 months (The female has actually been in there for almost 11) and are doing well, fat and healthy hunting down anything that looks remotely edible. When I first got the male the female, who was then twice his size, kicked him around the tank. One day after about a week of this abuse he flared his dorsal at her and it was love at first flare.  <just curiously... were you playing Luther Vandross music at the time <wink>?> That night they spawned and for several nights after they would spawn.  <don't rub it in... hehe> Well now the love has died down  <they got married?> and they only spawn about once a month and lately not at all.  <ahhh yes, married> The male chases the female all the time and will not leave her alone.  <insert your own marriage joke here> If he sees her he will become very aggressive and chase her until he can corner her for a display or she gets away, sometimes it seems that he nips at her. So what I am wondering is if I should get another female to distract his attentions, like with freshwater livebearers, or will the pair kill the new comer?  <seriously, a tough call. I would not advise you to add another female as a solution to this problem, although another female has a reasonably good chance of working out in a larger aquarium (over 100 gall?)> The female looks none the worse for his aggression but it's sad to see him chasing her in such a fashion. Thank you for all your help. <perhaps as you suspect, this stress cannot be healthy or continue over time. Do consider feeding fatty foods or using a supplement like Selcon to provide it on soaked foods. This may help to condition the female for a more frequent spawning schedule. The reason for the decline if related to this is that over time, the dragonets are decimating the copepod population (as is common in systems under 100 gall or without a productive fishless refugium) and the female will not ripen due to the compromised diet. Just speculation, though. Kindly, Anthony>

Emerald Crab/Seahorses (actually Anemones, Mandarins, Scooters...) Hello from Canada. This is my first attempt at using the internet as a resource for my hobby, I am looking forward to your response. <Glad to meet you. Hope I can be helpful.> I have a 55 gallon reef tank that has been set up for almost a year and a half. I am thinking about replacing my Yellow Tang with other algae eating critters as my tang is getting quite large and seems to be getting more aggressive as time goes on. <Not unusual by any means. In fact, quite normal.> I prefer the smaller more shy fish and plan to add a few more down the road. The problem is that my Yellow Tang does an excellent job of keeping down the hair algae and I am a little reluctant to add anything that might upset the nice balance I already have. Is it possible that an Emerald Green Crab would catch and eat slower moving fish such as my Dragonet (Mandarin Goby)? <Possible, but are you aware that your Mandarin is probably starving to death.> I have been reading that they have been known to catch clownfish and eat them. I also have several Blue Legged Crabs, a larger Red Legged Crab, a Coral Banded Shrimp, several Porcelain Crabs each with their own anemone, <Again, do you know how difficult anemones are?> a Feather Duster, various abundant tube worms, 2 small Percula Clownfish, a Scooter Dragonet, <The Scooter blenny is just as difficult as the Mandarin.> 3 Firefish and a Maroon Clown that is also soon to be relocated (an error on my part), many other soft corals/polyps/mushrooms and saltwater plants. I believe my tank holds about 35-40 gallons of true water as I have abundant live sand and rock. If at all possible (I have more research to do) I plan to house 2 Seahorses and a Pipefish. I have also been reading that I cannot keep seahorse/pipefish with potent stinging anemones. My anemones consist of a Long Armed, a Curlicue, a Condy, A Sebae and a Bubble tipped. Any info you could give me would be appreciated. Many thanks, Monika <I suggest you do a lot more research on your animals. Start reading all of the FAQ's under Anemones and Mandarins. Best of luck. -Steven Pro>

Re: Emerald Crab/Seahorses Thanks for nothing, Monika <What would you have liked me to say? Sure, get rid of the Yellow Tang and add a bunch of snails and scarlet reef hermit crabs and everything will be fine. And I will just ignore the fact that you have a whole host of animals that have a 99% chance of slowly starving to death and dying in one year; Mandarin, Scooter Blenny, Feather Duster, and 5 Anemones. Plus, add to it that the Mandarins and Scooter Blennies are notorious for being stung and killed by anemones and pipefish and seahorses would fall into both above categories (Starving and stung). Please remember this email and try to keep track if all of the above animals are not dead in one year's time. -Steven Pro>

Re: Emerald Crab/Seahorses I'm sorry for being rude. I didn't realize that you had responded individually to my questions in my original message. I only saw the last statement suggesting that I do more research. I'm new to the internet but not to this hobby. I appreciate you taking the time to answer my questions. <No problem we seem to have gotten off on the wrong foot. We all here insert text into your message so that we answer all of the questions as they come up.> I have to admit now I am quite confused. My Mandarin is considerably larger than when I bought him 4 months ago, he looks very healthy and I see him picking live food off the rock every evening. Is it still possible that he is not getting enough food? My Scooter is 10 months old and easily twice as big as when I bought him. I have seen him eat flake food as well as frozen. Why do you feel that his health is in jeopardy?  <It seems you have lucked out or are doing something else special, because usually Mandarins and Scooter Blennies only ever eat live food. Also, they will normally eat the microfauna of the tank quicker than the critters can reproduce in tanks under 100 gallons. Thereby, they usually have consumed all available food over the course of a year and eventually starve.> My Feather Duster is 1 1/2 years old and has grown considerably . I supplement his feeding with a liquid food formula. Should I be doing more? <No actually that sounds good.> I have to admit that I don't feed the anemones often as I have seen the clowns do that. The Condy is 1 1/2 years old as well and is very large, he appears very strong and healthy too, but if you are serious about Mandarins/Scooters being stung I would just as soon relocate him. Do you feel that anemones are not the tank mates for the slow movers that I have and hope to one day have in my tank? <Yes, many of your current fish and potential tankmates are sure to be stung and consumed eventually.> All the anemones appear to be healthy, their colors are striking, they are growing in size and all have chose their own favorite niche on the live rock, compared to what some of them looked like when I purchased them I would go so far as saying they are thriving in my tank but if they truly are not suppose to be in the same tank, they too can be relocated (My daughter works in a pet store that would accommodate me). I have at least 75lbs of live rock in my tank with scores of tiny organisms that appear to be consumed on a regular basis. I really thought this was sufficient for the fish I have. My plants too are growing and regularly need thinning out, I thought this was a sign of a well established tank. My ultimate goal is to have a reef tank suitable for a Mandarin/Scooter/Firefish/Seahorses/Pipefish and various invertebrates. Of course I thought the anemones would be part of this but I have the feeling I really got off on the wrong track with that. <Anemones are best kept in a species tank specially setup for their needs.> Again please accept my apologies for not knowing my way around the internet, thanks again for taking the time to help me out. -Monika <Do not worry about it. I guess our format can be a little strange when reading for the first time. Please feel free to email again with more questions. Better yet write up something about your success with the Mandarin and Scooter Blenny and try to discover what you have done differently than so many others. -Steven Pro>

Mandarin Goby Question Hi Robert, <You got Steven Pro today.> You had given me excellent advice on an eel question that I had previously, and I hope you don't mind a follow up: I just bought a mandarin goby. I have a 30 gallon tank with about 45lbs of premium Fiji live rock. I want to ensure that he doesn't starve to death. <You should always find out about the captive care requirements of your fish PRIOR to purchasing them.> What types of feeding methods would you recommend? I read something about burying food for him. I have a 2-3 inch crushed coral substrate. Will he be able to dig through crushed (finely) coral vs. sand? Any help would be appreciated. Thank you. <You can read much more about these creatures here http://www.wetwebmedia.com/mandarins.htm and here http://www.wetwebmedia.com/mandfaqs.htm. Sorry for you and your fish, but I have to say that your fish has a 99% chance of slowly starving to death in your tank. -Steven Pro>

Re: psychedelic mandarin <I do believe Bob's beer fed fish have recovered from their hangover...however, they are complaining that they still have the munchies. Anthony> A-HA HA HA....I'd like to see that. Were the fish weaving while they swam? <only when they formed a conga line> so you think Simon is really Simone?  <quite certain from your clear photo> That's what I thought. She needs a man really bad. <I'll spare everyone my humor on this point although the temptation is overwhelming!> She paces back and forth like she is looking for someone....and when I put a mirror to the tank she calms down and seems much more happy. I'll give Jim Newman at Flying Fish Express an email. :-) <excellent> Here is a closer picture of the coral. this is about as close a shot as I can get with my digital camera....and for this one I added a magnifying glass in front of the lens.  <hmmm...thank you, but alas not close enough in retraction to reflect corallite structure. My guess on gross terms is a bit of Goniopora...but I suspect that on closer examination and with some growth on the colony it could be different> My coral doesn't really retreat much more than the picture I sent u (attached again). I'll see if I can catch him in the middle of the night. <yes, very good> Oh, here's a weird question...or maybe it's not so weird, I don't know. I have a muscle in my tank (one of 3) and my largest hermit crab is obsessed with it. he won't leave the muscle alone which keeps the muscle closed. is this love, infatuation, or hunger?  <definitely munchies> I've moved the crab off the muscle a couple of times but he moves right back in...it's like a magnet. he's starting to piss me off...I feel for the muscle. <the mussel is apparently sending out the international lunch bell signal...hehe> I see you are going to be speaking in Michigan march 23rd....when are you coming to northern California? <As soon as a club invites me...hehe. Actually, I'll be visiting the Bay area soon for a relaxing vacation very soon (March?). I've got some frequent flyer miles piling up like soon-to-be Enron indictments. Perhaps I can meet some smiling faces and see some cool tanks/stores <smile>. Kindly, Anthony Calfo>

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