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Mandarin/Scooter Feeding FAQs 2

Related FAQs: Mandarin Feeding 1, Psychedelic "Gobies"/Dragonets/Mandarins & their Relatives 1, Mandarins , Mandarins 3Mandarin Identification, Mandarin Systems, Mandarin Compatibility, Mandarin Selection, Mandarin Disease/HealthMandarin ReproductionCopepods,

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

MattP's Mini-Waters biz: Callionymid cond.       3/19/16
Bob - An interesting thought exercise on conditioning Mandarin Dragonets
You asked me to send them when I had interesting things to send..here’s one
<Thank much Matt; will post/share. BTW, last wknd while filming up at Dan Gilboa's shop in Long Beach, noticed they were selling Artemia for.... $7.50 a "portion"!!!>
Did you do anything with the first one?
<Yikes... must've missed... Please do re-send. Cheers, Bob Fenner>

Dear Bob, 

For the last three years we have owned a seemingly happy and fat mandarin fish. It was housed in a 110 gal mixed reef tank which was packed with about 75kg of mature live rock. Along with picking food from the rock it would also take frozen food at feeding time, and always looked healthy and alert.

About four months ago we downsized from that aquarium to a 60 gal bow-front tank. When downsizing we got rid of the larger fish but also sold around 40kgs of live rock.

This morning I came down to aquarium and the mandarin was dead! It did not have a pinched stomach and was eating frozen food the night before.

I just wanted to ask in your opinion what could have been a possible reason for this mandarin to die? There was less live rock for it to browse on, but still more than enough to support such a small fish?


Sam  P.

Sorry to read of your loss Sam. 'Mysterious' losses are difficult to discern, but it might well be that this fish merely perished from 'old age''¦ Some mandarins are known (in captivity) to have lived a few more years than this, but like Betta splendens longevities, they're rare. I do think that some Callionymids/oids, the group that includes 'scooters' and psychedelic 'gobies', including mandarins do at times pass from eating something they shouldn't have, and this is another possibility. Additionally, I would state that in the higher plausibilities 'cumulative stress' may well have played a role here.

            Lastly, I'd make the comment that folks really should replenish a bit of their olde live rock every year or so, particularly if keeping organisms that rely on forage from such like mandarins, many butterflyfishes'¦ By adding or replacing ten-twenty percent of the live rock with fresh.

Mandarin Goby has stopped eating after about 10 months in my tank...     8/13/14
I have read as much as I can about this and have a different situation that what I have found. I would very much appreciate some advice if you have any.
I had a healthy mandarin for almost 8 months with 40 gallon breeder tank, 30 gallon planet refuge, and a 15 gallon sump. I have maintained it pretty meticulously for almost 18 years and it seems to be fairly
well balanced.
all three of the tanks were full of pods and the mandarin was hunting eating etc, and even seemed fat every now and again as it was also taking some the frozen pe Mysis meant for others in the tank.
I moved the tank to a new address, not far, and only caused as much disruption to the tank as one might in a yearly cleaning. not the first time I moved the tank Rocks rearranged a little, but placed back more less where they were do to the corals that have almost covered them.
The corals, the other fish, the refuge all seem fine. I noticed it was taking a while for the pods to regenerate so to be extra cautious I have reintroduced various live copepods, and artic pods etc from a variety of sources. Now I have pod city in the refugium, and I suspect the system is at about copepod capacity as I can see them (some only with magnifier and all the way up to sizes larger than the goby would eat. Still my mandarin will not start to eat. I fear he may not have eaten since the move two months ago.
<Whoa! I'd be adding more PE Mysis>
He is extremely skinny and might be slowing down... or maybe he is just getting comfortable again.....? I see him behave like he is hunting but he isn't pecking anymore. I have not seen a pod directly in front of
him but I can't see any reason he wouldn't be able to find them.
I would hate to see him go and I suspect it may be too late...
any advice would be appreciated
<More food offerings... this animal may have eaten something else (e.g. a small Bristleworm) that didn't agree with it, or been stung by... a coral?
Should I refer you to read on WWM re their foods/feeding/nutrition? Bob Fenner>

Ich - Red Slime - Mandarin Acclimation (sel., fdg.... gen.)– 02/19/14
Thanks in advance for your time.
<<Hiya John…quite welcome>>
I have three questions, which I'm sure have been answered elsewhere so feel free to redirect me.
180 gallon with live rock (no coral yet but hope to), T5HO lights right now but will switch to LED with coral addition, assortment of snails, crabs, two cleaner shrimp and a pistol shrimp, below tank sump, protein skimmer, no refugium, stocked early with about 2000 pods which I still see in the tank and on LR.  Tank was set up around October 2013
1. I had an outbreak of Ich (vacation, pet sitter) that wiped out my tank except for a purple Firefish.  Firefish has been in quarantine (bare bottom tank, sp gravity 1.016)
<<Do consider adding a length of PVC pipe for the fish to hide in
.  A ‘bare’ tank is unnerving for any fish, but especially so for shy, timid species like the Firefish.>>
and the DT has been empty of fish as well.  Adequate for breaking the cycle or at least putting the Ich into a dormant state?
<<Four to six weeks fallow should “break the cycle” as you say…but 3 months will do better towards eliminating any “dormancy” issues.>>

 Is a slow drip acclimatization okay to put Firefish back in, and if so how slow?  Slow drip acclimation is fine (though you could do the tried and true  “float the bag, add small amounts of water” acclimation as well).  One to two drips per second works for me in most cases…but do search the site re ‘drip acclimation’ for a lot more info.>>
2.  After all the fish were removed, developed an outbreak of red slime as well as green slime on LR and substrate.  Coincidence or correlation?
<<Hard to say, but may well indicate a chemical/biological imbalance that was already stressing the fish.>>
<<Check bio-mineral content and get things back in balance.  Keeping Magnesium, Calcium, and Alkalinity in balance…and at the upper limits…helps significantly with controlling nuisance slime algae, in my experience.>>
Thoughts on vodka treatment?
<<I have used this method on-and-off for years (once with disastrous results, if I’m going to be honest), and do see a benefit when used judiciously.  It’s no panacea, but can be a useful adjunct…though I would recommend here that you first address the water chemistry and see if this does the job.>>
3.  Getting ready and excited to restock tank.  Thinking about starting with a pair of Blue/Green Mandarins so there won't be a hold lot of competition and harassment to give these guys a head start.  Thoughts on ORA vs. wild caught?
<<Definitely ORA…these fishes will take prepared foods ( get/use New Life Spectrum pelleted food) and have a much better chance of surviving long term.>>
With the pods not really having a predator would the population be adequate for them?
<<Not likely in the long run…thus the need for animals that will accept prepared foods.>>
Thoughts on a method or need for quarantine?
<<Mandarins/Dragonets, in my opinion, are less risky…and do much better…when acclimated right to the display.>>
Would a UV sterilizer ran every other week or so have an effect on pods?
<<Little if any…and likewise re controlling any nuisance organisms. >>
Do these have a better chance of survival as a pair or singly?
<<They can be kept either way…though if kept together do try to get a true “pair” or at the very least add the male and female to the system “together.”>>
Thanks again,
John A
<<Happy to share…  EricR>>

Mandarin, fdg     11/15/13
HI Bob, I was just wandering if you can help me, I have a pair of mandarin dragonets, I just got another female to add to the group,
But unfortunately the poor little thing is so thin, when I got the other 2 previous they were thin but I'm sure they were not this thin. She is in a breeders net to fatten up but she isn't pecking at anything like the other 2 can you suggest anything to help her?
<Just moving to the best "target rich" area for food as you can>
I was thinking of putting her in the sump but not sure what to do? We have loads of copipods!
<Add other foods if you can. Perhaps a reading/review:
Bob Fenner>
Re: re: Mandarin... skinniness    11/17/13

Thank you, I have moved her to the sump, she seems happier, I think she is eating frozen lobster eggs soaked in a supplement.
<Ah good. Do keep offering as much foods as this fish will accept as often as you can. BobF>

White spot on Green Mandarin... hlth. period; starving     10/22/13
Ladies and Gentlemen,
You are my last hope. About six months ago my Green Mandarin developed a small white spot on his back. Since he showed no signs of any sickness and the spot was not growing I didn't think to much of it. Over time the spot got bigger (very slowly) and I started to search the internet for answers but couldn't find any. Talks to other reefers and posts in blogs also went without any result.
There is no hole in the skin of the fish and it doesn't seem to be an ulcer either. It just looks like the color is bleaching out. The fish is obviously not bothered by it. No other fish in my tank shows the same symptom or is sick. The Mandarin is not bothered by any of the other fish in the tank.
I hope you can shed some light on what is going on with my Mandarin.
Thank you very much
Peter Schleifer
<... whatever else is going on with this fish, it is starving. I would re-double your efforts to get it live foods of use (maybe move to an ongoing refugium), perhaps Mysis offered a few times daily, Cyclops... perhaps soaked in a vitamin/HUFA supplement ahead of offering. I'd be fixing this fish from the inside out... Nutritionally. Bob Fenner>

Mandarin diner..what are the possibilities? - 11/15/2012
Hi WWM Crew,
Hope everyone is well tonight!
<This AM a bit perkier!>
I don't know how clearly my picture has come through, but this is a  shot of my 8 month old green Mandarin Dragonet in her "mandarin diner" eating  Nutramar Ova.  She is housed in a 120 gallon reef tank packed with live  rock that is well over one year old and has a tied in refugium teeming with  pods.
Lesson learned: even when you follow the rules, Mandarins get  skinny without supplementing other foods...
<Quite often, yes>
Thus the diner and the Nutramar Ova.  I was very skeptical this would  work, but literally one day after setting it up, "Ladybird" was in there, and my yellow tang's nose was inserted through the entry hole, furious she and the  other fish were not privy to this banquet.  Needless to say, I was  flabbergasted I had success with this.  Now that she is in there (and she  visits this diner all day, long past when it is emptied by her and the voracious little hermit crabs), how do I expand her horizons to other foodstuffs?
  I  want desperately for her to be on pellet food, but this IS a wild caught  mandarin, and I don't know how high my expectations can be.
<Many do learn to accept pelleted foods of quality>
 Is there any  one pellet that you have heard good things about in terms of Mandarins  accepting?
<Spectrum, some of Hikari's range; a few of the expensive aquaculture re-packaged varieties of late>
 I know Spectrum (.5 mm) is probably one of the most premium  pellets around, but there are actually a few new ones that I have been looking  into, like Sustainable Aquatics Hatchery Feed and Otohime by Reed  Mariculture. 
<Ah yes>
These are all made in very small sizes.  Also, I have  read online that people feeding Hikari S have had some good results with  mandarins.  What do I do, just try different brands of pellets until I  see her take something and give up if she does not accept them after a certain  amount of time?
<Yes; tis what I would do as well>
 Can you give me a brief tutorial on how you would try  to accomplish this?
<Sprinkling in w/ all fishes mixed w/ other foods for a time (weeks), mixing in the feeder following this...>
 If she won't take one brand of pellet, does that mean  she won't take them all?
<No; not necessarily>
How long would you keep at it until it is clear  she won't take pellet food? 
<A week or two for each type/kind>
Any advice would be much appreciated...
Thanks in advance,
Laura Garmizo
<Thank you for sharing. Bob Fenner>

Mandarin, foods/feeding  - 11/16/2012
Dear WetWeb crew,
Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions.  My problem, is I have a blue Mandarin that is getting thiner and thiner... and thiner... and... well you get the idea.
<Thinner, the comparative; yes>
 So the question is what am I doing wrong or what can I do to help him.
<... have you read (?) here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/mandfdgfaq2.htm
the linked files above re System, Compatibility....?>
 Allow me to describe the tank set up.  It is a 90 gallon tank with over flow,  there is approximately 95-100 lbs of Fiji live rock, the rocks are sitting on the glass bottom and I only have 20lbs of Fiji pink sand in front of the tank, the sand depth is about 1/2 inch deep. 
<Mmm, I'd make this substantially deeper... and do you have a working refugium?>
This was on the advise <advice> of the fish store because they prefer a bare bottom thank,
<They're tanks are their choice...>
 but I wanted the nice white look of sand.
<Deeper more functional>
 The flow comes from two 1400 gph power-heads, with a 990 gph return pump.
There is a 30 gallon sump with a protein skimmer and refugium.
 The refugium is about 12 gallons, there is Caulerpa
<Mmm, switch this out... Read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/refugalgfaq2.htm
and a mineral mud bottom with another 10lbs of live rock.  The fish in the tank are two Clowns, one Red Hawk fish, one Flame Angel, one Magenta Pseudochromis,  a marine Betta, and a Yellow Watchman Goby paired with a Pistol Shrimp that disappeared the day they were introduced two months ago.
 The Watchman Goby did do a one day appearance 3 weeks ago, so he might still be in there.
<Likely both are>
 None of the fish bother the Mandarin
<They're <Callionymoids) actually toxic, unpalatable>
 other than they are all 10 times faster than him.  The thank is 10 months old, and the Mandarin was introduced 2 months ago.  So far I believe I have a good set up for my mandarin.  Here are some ideas where I might have gone wrong.  All the rocks were dry when introduced,
<Mmm, do add a few pounds of "good quality" new/ish live rock to re-seed...>
and I never bought any Copepods.  I just assumed they would be introduced with the Caulerpa.
<Mmm, no; not likely>
None of the fish stores in driving distance sell any Reef pods only the Tiger Pods,
<Can be shipped>
 and since I live in Canada, I can't order from the US since live shipments can't cross the border.
<Oh? And no one in Canada offers such? I sense a marketing opportunity!>
  Any suggestions on how to increase the pod population?
<The new live rock... place some in the 'fuge...>
  I also wonder about something else. When I do a water change, I blast the rocks with a powerhead to loosen any detritus.  Could this have any effect on the copepods?
<Mmm, not much>
 And one more thing, as with most new tanks, I did have a Cyano break out some time ago.
<Yikes... me no like>
  I used Chemiclean to get rid of it.  Could this have an effect on the copepods?
<Indirectly, yes possibly>
  I haven't seen the Mandarin eat any frozen food, and wonder if feeding caviar eggs is a good Idea.
<Worth trying... again, you need to read where you've been sent here>
 Please help my poor Mandarin before it's too late.
Thank you,
<Welcome. Get reading! Bob Fenner>
Re: Mandarin    11/16/12

Thank you Bob for your quick reply,
I actually did read a lot of what you suggested before I bought the Mandarin, but I will try to find the pellet food. 
<Please do report back w/ your observations>
The reason I use Caulerpa is because no fish store had any Chaeto.
<Is there a marine club thereabouts, someone who might give you a bit?>
 As for increasing the depth of my sand bed should this be done all at once or gradually over how much time?
<Better for gradual, but can be added all at once by scooting most all extant to one side, placing the new to the open space... blending the two over time. Mmm, do read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/SubstReplF4.htm
and the linked files above>
 Obviously I won't be removing the rocks to put sand underneath them since I don't want to reaquascape, but should I try to add behind and around them?
 Also should I buy live sand or will dry sand be good enough. 
<... dry is fine. The current and the LR will inoculate the new>
Thank you again Bob, and have a good week-end.
<Welcome. BobF>

Mandarin (Tank Suitability) – 04/19/12
Thank you all for all your help through the years!!
<<Glad to be of service>>
I have a four year old 150 gallon system relying on likely 200lbs of live rock and a Turbo Shorty compact 5000 for filtration. I've always admired the "blue mandarin" and am considering one and wanted to make sure my system was prepared.
Although most "experts" I talk to say that my system should contain plenty of copepods for a mandarin to live, I have not noticed anything in the tank or on the glass, even at night.
<<Mmm, okay>>
I used to have a plethora of amphipods living in my sump (with my LR rubble and Chaeto) but I notice nothing now.
<<These populations do wax and wane, and is sometimes due to cannibalism…purposeful feeding of the refugium (I use inexpensive and easy to dispense Shrimp Pellets) can help keep numbers up>>
Would it be possible for copepods/amphipods to not survive in my system? Even though my fish are doing well?
<<More likely that conditions are simply not “optimum” for these critters (e.g. – insufficient food quantity), I would think>>
What might cause this?
<<Could be a number of things…perhaps an unknown/unseen predator or parasite…but more likely nothing serious. Try feeding small amounts to the refugium and see what develops>>
Also, what other fish would compete with the mandarin for copepods?
<<I’ve seen few of the commonly kept aquarium fishes that purposely hunt the substrate as the Mandarin does for the tiny harpacticoid copepods they seem to enjoy…but small wrasses may compete to some extent, though more so for the small Mysids and amphipods in the system. And most any planktivorous fishes (e.g. – Damsels, Cardinals) will likely pluck waterborne gametes and larvae before they have a chance to settle for the Mandarin to find. But much of your concern can be alleviated by purchasing one of the “captive bred” specimens available today. These are conditioned to accept prepared commercial foods…some even say they have been known to eat the highly nutritious ‘Spectrum’ pelleted foods, though I have not witnessed this myself>>
Thank you in advance for your help!
<<Happy to share… EricR>>

Mandarin Food Supply 4/12/12
<Hello Jess>
I am interested in purchasing a Mandarin or a pair if available, and understand from all your forums that they are more than likely to starve if not fed sufficiently.
I have a 220 gal tank, about 4 months old, with 3 inches of live sand and about 300 pounds of live rock. Pods are very active at night. I do not have a refugium and do not really want one...do you think the size of the tank along with the sand and rock present will be enough to keep the food supply needed for the pair of mandarins?
<Depends on how many pod lovers are present in the tank.>
 Or should I stick to one or none at all?
<Your tank is large enough to support a pair.>
I should also say that I run my UV sterilizer 24/7 to combat an earlier ick issue that is now under control. Does this affect the pod population?
<Can.  Anything passing through the UV is zapped.>
Is there anything else I can do to increase the pod population naturally?
<May want to try increasing the pod food supply and see if the population grows.  Reef Nutrition's Phyto Feast is a good food for this and is best to feed in the evening after your lights go out.>
<You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)>
Re Mandarin Food Supply    4/12/12

Thanks for the reply.
<You're welcome.>
 Currently I have a large Foxface, royal gramma, 4 clowns, Kole and powder blue tang, 6 line wrasse, Dartfish, and a starry blenny. 4 skunk shrimp, hermit crabs, fire shrimp, sea urchin and a starfish. Do you think these would lower my pod population?
<The wrasse would for sure.  With that group of fish I would steer away from Mandarins.  Best kept with other docile fish.  Read here. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/mandarins.htm>
I am currently feeding phyto feast about 2 times a week at night, should I feed more often? I also plan to supplement with purchased pods too. Would two fight in this size tank or do you think it would be alright?
<As above.>
I also do not plan to QT them, from what I have read they are disease resistant and I do not think there would be enough food for them in my QT tank. Do you see a problem with this? If so, I could QT them but I also have 10 green Chromis that are in QT for another 4 weeks before going in to the main tank.
<Be best to set up a separate 30 or larger tank if you wish to have a Mandarin.  It will offer the best chance of survival.>
Thanks James :)
<You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)>
Re Mandarin Food Supply 4/12/12

Thanks for the advice.
 I do have a pretty peaceful tank with these fish...the only nipping that goes on is between the percula clown and black and white clown. Everyone else is pretty docile...I would like to try the  mandarin but don't want to give him a death sentence either...if I do try it  would it be better to only get one rather than two?
<I would only get one and observe.  May want to increase the pod population as well and best done in the evening to keep away from hungry mouths.>
I can also move my rocks  around too if you think that would help?
<Help with what?>
Thanks again,
<You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)>
Re Mandarin Food Supply 4/12/12

What do you mean by "as well" ?
<"as well" wasn't needed there, just suggested you increase the pod population by adding live pods.  James (Salty Dog)>>
I also feed small amounts 3 times a day

Another green mandarin question, fdg.     3/26/12
Hello crew!
<Evening Jennifer, Bobby here>
 I am sick to death over a green mandarin. Here's the deal: I have a 6 year old 55 gallon reef tank with 80 lbs of live rock with a 30 gallon refugium. Three weeks ago I was at the LFS and they said they had tank raised mandarins. I picked the biggest one out and put him in the QT with live rock. I tried to feed him fish eggs, New Life Spectrum pellets, Mysis, brine, blood worms, Rod's fish food and even pods he was interested in none of it. After a week the LFS said to put him in the main so he would relax and he could hunt in there. I did and never saw him eat. He would look at the glass but never eat. I put pods in a glass jar and put it in a corner in the bottom of the tank.
He would go in and look around for a few minutes and never eat. Perhaps it was my imagination but I thought he was getting that pinched look. I've attached a picture, can you tell if he was/is starving? So after $100 in fish food this fish still wouldn't eat so I took him back to the LFS. But after 3 weeks he had to be eating something or he wouldn't be alive, right?
<Not necessarily, these poor animals can go quite a while not eating as they wither away>
 I feel horrible taking him back because I really liked him but I just couldn't have him die. Did I do the right thing or was he doing ok in my tank?
<You did the right thing in returning him.  In the future, if any LFS offers to sell you a fish that is a notoriously difficult feeder and claims that it eats, ask them to feed it in front of you.  It either will or it wont, and that will ultimately give you your answer>
Thank you, Jennifer
<You are welcome, Bobby>
Re: Another green mandarin question 3/27/12

Hi Bobby,
  Thanks for getting back to me. Did the pictures come through? They're not the best but I really couldn't tell if he had the pinched stomach look or not but I guess better to be safe than sorry. 
<The pictures were not conclusive>
I feel a little better, thank you.
<Glad to hear and you are welcome>

Tank raised spotted mandarin, fdg.     3/15/12
Hi crew!
<Hi Jennifer>
  Last week I purchased a tank raised spotted mandarin from my LFS.  They told me that they had got 3 of them in a week prior and they had been eating Spectrum pellets, frozen brine, frozen Mysis and blood worms.<Did you see it eat; was the belly pinched?>  So I put it in a QT and over the course of 4 days I tried to feed it a little bit of each of these foods
but to no avail. I spoke to the owner of the LFS and he told me to put him in the main since he was tank raised the risk of disease was low and it would be more inclined to eat these foods with the other fish as well as pick at the pods in the tank.<Would be easier to spot feed away from other fish.> I've always wanted a mandarin but didn't want to starve the poor thing in my 55 gallon so a tank raised one seemed ideal.  It is swimming back behind the rocks and is looking for food on the glass. I've offered it food but no luck. I put Tigger Pods in my refugium and in a stand alone to get them jump started.<Tigriopus californicus are not an ideal pod to start a population.
They come from tide pools which are free of predators; they will not hide when a predator is near and are eaten quickly in a closed environment. More on copepods--
 I recommend starting a culture with a Harpacticoid sp.
 More on cultures here-- http://www.advancedaquarist.com/2003/2/breeder >  
Do you have any ideas or "tricks" to get this fish to eat?<Spot feed the fish using a turkey baster in a low flow area of the tank. Mandarins are slow and deliberate eaters that can not compete with faster fish. I would try spot feeding with these foods: New Life Spectrum .5mm pellets, Nutramar Ova, and H2O Life Mini Marine Mysis.> I know this question seems ridiculous but I'm desperate and don't want this poor thing to starve to death.<Some never take to prepared foods and will starve without a sustainable pod population. I would return it to the LFS if it does not accept pellets or frozen. >  Thank you.
<You're welcome> 
Re: Tank raised spotted mandarin 3/15/12

Thank you, Jordan for getting back to me so soon! <Not a problem.> I didn't see him eat (I know better).<Lesson learned.> No his belly was/is not pinched. I still have not seen him eat anything I've given him. He has, however, appeared to eat something off the glass.<It's enjoying your pods, can't stop instinct.> There are pods in my tank but not a whole lot of them.<Even less now.> I have tried to spot feed him the New Spectrum pellets behind a rock where he hides out but my other fish believe they are starving to death so I believe this could be problematic.<Try feeding the tank and spot feeding at the same time. I'd also try offering some ova before giving up hope. Your other fish will enjoy the ova if the Mandarin does not.>
I will read your recommended pod link. I'll give it another day then I believe I will attempt to catch him and take him back.  Thank you for all of your help. 
<Best of luck, Jordan>
Re: Tank raised spotted mandarin; foods/fdg.    3/17/12

I read those pod links you suggested.  I have a question concerning the advance aquarist link. When setting up the culture tank do you add fresh saltwater to the phytoplankton or is it straight phytoplankton?<Add concentrated phytoplankton to saltwater. Detailed phytoplankton instructions-- http://www.melevsreef.com/phytoplankton.html > I guess I'm going to culture pods and until I have a significant amount I'll have to keep purchasing them.<This is a very expensive plan. I'd strongly consider returning the fish until you have your culture up and running.> In the mean time I'll try to get him to eat other food.<The foods mentioned may be hard to find locally but all can be found online.> By the way, do you know if spotted mandarins are night time feeders or daytime?<Primarily during the day but don't be surprised if you see it hunting at night.> I spoke
to the LFS (looking for the Nutramar) and they said that they were night time feeders and he was probably eating pods at night.<LFS are not always great sources for accurate information. More on mandarins--
Thank you for all of your help, Jordan..you have eased my mind a lot!!  Jennifer
<Glad to help, Jordan>

Re: More re: Nassarius Snails Versus Fish, hand-fed dragonetttes!  12/19/11
Thanks.  I'll check some of those out.  I had ordered some blue eyed aka glass aka threadfin cardinals that never made it to my were poor shippers, I'd have never ordered them, let alone order a second batch to doom even more of them.   Poor beautiful fishies :(
On a more positive note, one of the dragonets ate from my hand last night!
Here's a video of them doing their mating dance:
Happy Holidays to you all!
<And to you and yours. BobF>

Mandarin Dragonet, fdg.   11/22/11
I very recently got a mandarin that was eating frozen brine at the store, <Mmm, doubtful this was rendering much nutrition>
but has taken no interest in frozen food at all in my tank. As for pinched stomach, it don't see a pinched or bulging stomach (the best I could figure out is the stomach is directly behind the lower fins?)
<Behind the pelvics, twixt here and the anus yes>
He is in a 40 gallon tank, but is connected to a system containing 300 gallons ( about 450lbs of live rock). Most the system is only about a half year old, but the rock was moved out of a stores main system(they were moving and needed to tear one of there systems apart) very good mature rock. I have 2 refugiums full of huge huge cope pods and I have added "AlgaGen ReefPods Tisbe Live Aquacultured Copepods - 8oz" (three bottles) so I guess the two questions I haven't been able to find answers to are will my 40 watt emperor UV kill or stop the pods from properly spreading like it does Ich, or stop them from reproducing, or is it going to leave the cope pods unaffected?
<The last as far as I'm aware>
If the mandarin that was eating frozen food gets pods made available, will he stop eating the frozen and still be ok?
<Mmm, these particular "pods" may prove to be unsuitable; size, behavior-wise>
From what I have heard they need to eat frozen food also for long term stability, when he depletes the pods I am worried he will be to picky and not eat frozen again.
thank you
<We have a bunch of nutrifying Callionymids archived on WWM. Start by reading here:
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>
Re: Mandarin Dragonet  11/22/11

From what I am reading, there isn't really a pod culture that you can buy to sustain a Mandarin, correct then?
<Mmm, best to provide a mix of species>
It sounds like none of the AlgaGen or the tigger pods are exactly right for it correct?
<I'd cast your net a bit farther... Hit some of the hobbyist bb's re.
thank you much
(P.S. I do have Roe and baby brine as a back up plan)

Question about Spotted Mandarin food/Dragonets/Feeding 11/9/11
Hello all,
<Hi Courtney>
First off, thank you for the amazing site! It's been wonderful in helping me figure out what to feed my Spotted Mandarin. And on that subject, I have a few (lengthy) questions, and I apologize ahead of time for the confusion.
<No problem.>
I currently have a 14 gallon, one year old tank with approximately 7 pounds of live rock. I know that a lot of people say that having anything less than 55 gallons for a Mandarin is risky, but my LF said that he (the Mandarin) would be okay, and that the little guy was fine with eating frozen bloodworms. In my tank, I have a Coral Banded Shrimp, Flame Angel, Longnose Hawkfish, Strawberry Crab, some hermits, and two Bee Snails, along with my Mandarin.
<This is disaster in the making. Your tank is too small to support either fish. To have any success with a dragonet in that size tank, the Mandarin will have to be the only fish.>
I purchased the Mandarin two days two days ago, and bought some frozen bloodworms, but he didn't seem to want to eat them, or the frozen mysis shrimp. Since I have heard the many horror stories about what an go wrong when a Mandarin stops eating, I immediately went online and found your amazing website, and read up on everything copepod related.
As a result, today I bought two packs of Algagen's Tisbe biminiesis harpacticoid copepods, but when I put the first pack into my tank tonight, it didn't seem to me that anything actually came out of the pack.
<This species is rather small, ranging from .027 to .039 thousands of an inch, 1/32" max, but they should be visible. If they were shipped in cool weather, it may take some time to see activity.>
I've decided to wait a day or two and see how my Mandarin is doing before making any other decision, but just in case, I have been doing some research on possible alternatives, focusing on the products available from Reef Nutrition. Is this a good/trustworthy brand?
Also, I know that the company offers a "Food Selector" for different fish species (http://reefnutrition.com/feed_selector.html), and says that Tigger-Pods or Artic-Pods are a good choice for Dragonets in general, but I am hesitant to go for one or the other without expert advice.
<The Reef Nutrition Tigger Pods will be fine.>
After looking around some more, and reading some others posts, I found a link from y'all (Sorry for the Texan slang, it's in my blood) suggesting getting a Plankton Start Up Kit from the AquaCultureStore, and I wanted to know if getting the 200 copepod start up kit
(http://www.aquaculturestore.com/swinverts.html) is better than buying the live Tigger-Pods (http://reefnutrition.com/tigger_pods.html) from Reef Nutrition.
<I'd go with the Tigger Pods, they reproduce quickly. You will have to add pods until a population develops since they will be quickly consumed by the Mandarin.>
Just to make matters even more confusing, I'm also strongly considering buying from AquaCulture Nursery Farms, and getting the 16oz bottle of Tisbe copepods to start up my culture. Any thoughts?
<You can do the same with Tigger Pods. Read here and links below.
(http://stores.aquaculturenurseryfarms.com/-strse-105/%22TROPIC-COPEPODS%22-Tisbe-16/Detail.bok ) Also, do you know where I can buy fish safe roe? I've been looking online and the only thing I have found so far is dyed, flavored, spiced or all of the above. Do you have any suggestions for where I could find some 'safe' roe?
<No, not off the top of my head. Bob and/or other crew members may comment here on the daily FAQs. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/daily_faqs3.htm>
Regardless of who I buy from, I plan on raising a culture in a small tank, and as of right now, I am going to purchase a small, 1 gallon, Beta tank from Wal-Mart.
(http://www.walmart.com/ip/Hawkeye-1-Corner-Tank-Aquarium-1gal-Fish-Aquatic-Pets/10312983) Is this a good idea? It comes with a air pump and I've read that copepods don't need much to grow besides some microalgae and/or crushed up food pellets. Since I'm still a student, I don't really have the financial ability to buy a high tech fish tank, otherwise I would do so right away.
<Should be fine, but I would go with Reef Nutrition's advice on raising copepods found in the link above.>
I know that I've asked a bunch of things here, but I really would appreciate any help you could give me, I certainly need it :o
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>
Courtney Cundall :)

Mandarin Question (system setup/feeding) -- 10/22/11
Dear WWM,
<<Hey Laura>>
Hope all is well this evening!
<<Morning now'¦and not so bad, thanks!>>
I moved my 85 gallon reef to a 120 gallon set up.
<<Nice tank/dimension'¦you will really appreciate the added space back-to-front>>
There is between 250-300 pounds of live rock in the new system
<<Yikes'¦where do the fish swim/will the corals grow?>>
, and I have a fishless refugium in my 40 gallon sump.
<<Excellent'¦but keep in mind, to be a true 'refugium' and to reap all the benefits re, you'll need to keep shrimp, crabs, corals et al out of it as well>>
The refugium has live rock and live sand. I plan to add macroalgae to this shortly.
<<Very good... I recommend you go with Chaetomorpha'¦for its ease of keeping and excellent 'critter matrix' versus an often problematic Caulerpa species>>
I also have a combination of live sand and aragonite in the main tank.
<<I do appreciate the look of a substrate versus not'¦along with the added benefit of associated benthic organisms>>
My current tank mates are a Yellow Tang, Candy Basslet, and Midas Blenny. I will be adding a Diamond Watchman Goby in the next couple of months.
In 6-12 months I would love to get a mandarin fish.
<<Then I suggest you forego the Goby as a competitor to the Mandarin for natural food organisms. Not directly'¦as in hunting among the live rock like the Mandarin'¦but will still reduce populations of organisms beneficial to the Mandarin with its substrate-sifting activity. At the least, I would 'delay' this addition until you see whether the Mandarin will accept prepared foodstuffs>>
I plan to get a tank bred one from ORA
, but I have heard mixed things about these fish taking the prepared foods that ORA recommends for them once they get into other aquaria, even though ORA uses these foods themselves in their holding tanks.
<<Do experiment with 'other' choices'¦I find 'frozen' Glass Worms and Blood Worms, even Daphnia, will often elicit a feeding response in finicky feeders. The real trick seems to be keeping food available for the Mandarin to 'inspect' (as they are wont to do) before the other faster fishes get to it (tankmate selection is key)>>
I want all my bases covered. Should this fish not accept prepared foods and take only live foods, I want an environment capable of supporting it as if it were a wild caught specimen.
<<Mmm, if you are not able to get the Mandarin to accept prepared foods, your tank/refugium may not be large enough to support it'¦for the long term>>
In other words, I want to meet all the system criteria that would be required of ANY Mandarin.
<<Then you may need to consider the Midas Blenny as a natural food competitor, as well>>
If it took prepared foods that would be a bonus.
<<Indeed'¦and likely a prerequisite, for long-term success>>
Do I have a good chance of success with my setup/stocking/attached refugium plan to support one Mandarin?
<<It's not a given as you seem very aware'¦but yes, you have a chance'¦and with a captive bred specimen, a 'very good' chance, in my estimation>>
Forgot to mention I would seed the refugium with pods in addition to waiting for the tank to mature.
<<Sooner the better'¦a cup or two of substrate from fellow aquarist's systems can't hurt either>>
Laura Garmizo
<<Cheers'¦ Eric Russell>>
Re: Mandarin Question (system setup/feeding) -- 10/23/11     10/24/11

Hi Eric,
<<Hello Laura>>
Thank you for this response, and I appreciate all of your comments in order for me to be successful with this fish in my system.
<<Is my pleasure to share>>
No worries on having snails, crabs, shrimp, etc. in the refugium.
<<Actually, I feel a few 'sand-surfing' snails like Nassarius or Cerith species are fine, and even beneficial for 'stirring' the substrate here'¦though worms/other creatures should/will develop to help with this as well>>
It will just be live rock, live sand, and macroalgae. We will not be using Caulerpa. I have had great success in the past with an algae that looks very fern like and has the word "tax" in it, and for the life of me I cannot remember the name of it!!!
<<Hmm, sounds like 'Caulerpa' taxifolia'¦see here (http://www.wetwebmedia.com/caulerpaalg.htm)>>
I have also used Chaetomorpha in the past and have no issues with that algae for the refugium.
A couple of things also...have had my Midas Blenny quite awhile. I have never seen it in the rockwork, except to "hole" up to sleep or if startled. This fish literally parades around the top 1/3 of the tank all day long, in the open water column. I feed New Life Spectrum pellets,
<<An excellent food'¦for all fishes that will consume it>>
1 mm daily, and she waits for them every day. I have never seen her eat anything other than these, but I guess she could be onto something when I am not looking!
<<If/when the opportunity presents, yes>>
All I can say is that I have never seen her among the rocks or live sand. Hopefully, she is not a major competitor with a Mandarin regarding food.
<<Keep in mind my previous comments were based on your statement that you wanted a system capable of supporting 'any' Mandarin fish (i.e. -- wild caught)'¦this requires building the system 'around the needs of this fish,' which in 'my' opinion, means the absence of any potential or perceived direct natural food competitors. But in the end the decisions are always 'yours to make''¦and the fact you plan to acquire a tank-bred specimen does greatly increase chances of success with your system as it is today>>
Here is another issue. I feed New Life Spectrum pellets daily, sparingly, to my fish.
<<Mmm, not too sparingly I hope'¦am a huge proponent of keeping fishes well fed. I think too many well-meaning hobbyists take 'not overfeeding the tank' a bit too far>>
They are all thriving. Healthy, great weight, gorgeous colors.
I do have a maintenance person weekly for my tank. It took a LONG time to train ME about feeding.
<<I see>>
I was very guilty of trying different foods of all types, and overfeeding in order to feel all fish ate and were healthy.
<<Offering a varied diet is a 'good' thing and often key to the good health/longevity of the fishes. And while 'overfeeding' is not desired, it is important to provide 'enough' foodstuffs. The desired outcome can usually be achieved by providing 'several' small feedings a day. Keep in mind too that you are not just feeding the fishes, but the 'tank' as well. The benthic organisms you wish to cultivate will benefit from the few bits of food missed by the fishes, whether directly consumed or as 'fuel' to other organisms (e.g. -- alga) that will be consumed. You will also need to feed your refugium to realize full potential re the development and sustained population growth of beneficial organisms'¦a few shrimp pellets offered twice a week will do it>>
As a result, my reef tank was a mess in terms of nuisance algae and other issues. My maintenance man really got me to see that New Life Spectrum is all the fish really need,
<<Have heard this from others as well'¦but still prefer to provide some variety>>
and it does not take much to keep the fish in beautiful condition.
<<Won't argue that it is a very palatable and nutritious food>>
A year later, I can see "the proof is in the eating", as Pablo Teapot is fond of saying!
<<hee-hee! is Pablo 'Tepoot!'>>
My reef tank is gorgeous, and so are the fish.
<<I have no doubt>>
I also have very much downsized my fish population, picking my poison, so to speak, in order to focus on a thriving reef tank with few fish, but beautiful specimens.
<<This likely has contributed to the decline in problems/nuisance alga as much; or more, than anything else>>
I have also tried to pick fish that are "workers" on the reef,
<<Very smart>>
thus the Yellow Tang and the Diamond Watchman Goby. What I am getting at here is that I am working against my goals if I need to begin adding frozen foods and other food stuffs to cater to the Mandarin.
<<And is for you to decide>>
I was hoping that if I am patient, providing lots of live rock, a large enough tank, tied in refugium, and the patience to let it all mature, that I could support this fish. I was excited thinking the fish would be able to thrive in the tank and NOT require added food other than the live food the tank was producing.
<<There are those who would argue my position'¦but I have seen these fish perish thus in systems twice the size of yours. What you have/are planning will help, but I strongly believe supplemental feeding will still be required to preclude a slow death (over months'¦maybe even a year) from starvation>>
I guess my chances of doing this long term are probably not in my favor. I hear so many different stories about this fish.
<<Indeed'¦and by far, most end in sorrow>>
I know a woman who has had her mandarin over seven years and has done little more than I have outlined above to sustain it.
<<There are always the odd exceptions>>
The majority of the stories are far more dismal.
<<Ah yes'¦>>
At any rate, the odds are questionable and I think I need to re-think the fish based on your feedback and what I have outlined above.
<<Perhaps'¦especially if unwilling to modify husbandry practices for this fish>>
I am wondering if you will concur....we don't always hear what we want to hear in this hobby. It takes discipline to listen, too!
<<Agreed'¦and mine is but one opinion'¦you must use your own good judgment to decide>>
Thank you so much, Eric.
<<Happy to share my friend'¦ EricR>>
R3: Mandarin Question (system setup/feeding) -- 10/24/11

Hi Eric,
<<Hi Laura>>
I am fortunate to live in Florida
<<Ah! Am just a stone throw away in SC>>
...and frequent a LFS that has a very good relationship with ORA.
Having spoken to ORA on several occasions regarding this fish, I can special order a tank bred Mandarin through my LFS and yet still work with ORA directly to make sure my fish is closer to 2" and doing great with regards to eating prior to shipping.
I feel confident enough from our conversations (thank you Eric!) to move forward with this decision when my tank is mature enough to handle the Mandarin, so long as it is an ORA fish.
<<A happy resolution then>>
Just two more questions, and then I will release you from this Mandarin interrogation!!! Lol...
<<No worries>>
If I add pods (can do it as often as you specify, not bothered by this in the least) to jump start my tanks ability to house this fish, how quickly could I get the mandarin?
<<It's best to allow a 'sustained' population to develop'¦and is best done in a system with a dearth of predators (when I built my current 500g <en toto> reef system, I let it run for seven months before adding the first fish). In your case, since the display is already stocked, you will need to seed the refugium and let it 'develop' for 6-12 months'¦the longer the better. Though to be honest, with a tank-bred Mandarin feeding on prepared foods (if you relent on this point) this should not be as much of a factor>>
Pods should be added to sump/refugium only?
<<It won't hurt to give the display a boost'¦but definitely seed the refugium ASAP>>
Also, what specific copepods are best? Have used Reed Tigger Pods in the past,
<<I have heard the 'Tigger Pods' (Tigriopus californicus) don't 'prosper' for the long term at tropical reef tank temperatures (being a temperate organism) >>
as well as Algagen Tisbe Copepods.
<<Claims are these are 'True Tropical' copepods'¦and a better choice for cultivating in the refugium if so>>
And, any preference after seeing the blue or red Mandarins you saw yesterday?
<<Like them both'¦the 'reds' are quite interesting. I would have picked up a pair for my system, but the $120 price tag gave me shudders [grin]'¦especially after having dropped an already goodly sum on a pair of Flame Angels and a couple clams>>
I have LED lighting....blue tends to fade out, red really pops.
<<Well there ya go!>>
But, the spotted ones are beautiful, too!
Ok, more than a couple of questions up there....I so appreciate your patience, Eric.
<<Has been/is a pleasure to assist>>

Frozen Food For Mandarin (Prawn Eggs) -- 06/26/11
<<Hey Lisa!>>
I just wanted to pass along something for folks to try if they need to supplement food for their mandarin.
<<Always good>>
Myself and several people I know have had luck target feeding Nutramar Ova to our mandarins.
In full disclosure, as far as I know, all of these mandarins would at least accept frozen brine at the LFS before they were purchased.
<<Mmm, yes'¦though not the 'best' for their long-term good health. The prawn eggs will go far to helping with this. But better than this would be to acquire the 'captive bred' mandarins now available. These will eat most any frozen foods available, and will even accept the highly nutritious Spectrum pelleted foods (this latter being a staple I think every hobbyist should offer)>>
Hopefully this will help folks who are concerned about the feeding of their mandarin. And who isn't!!
<<Indeed this is so. Thank you much for sharing, Lisa. EricR'¦>>

Skinny Red Scooter and Plump Mandarin   10/26/10
I had a question
<... no longer?>
about my relatively new Red Scooter Blenny. I have him in a 110g tank with about 150 lbs of live rock along with a dragonet. There is currently an assortment of copepods and other little critters for the Mandarin to munch on so she seems full and pleased. The Red Scooter is another story, he hunts and appears to pick off food from the rock all day long (sometimes side-by-side with the mandarin), but I can see his tummy becoming sunken and he is looking very thin...
<Mmm, how long have you had this "red" fish? It may have been imported with an internal parasite fauna that is working it woe>
the color is very vivid red and behavior seems normal. I recently even added some brine shrimp eggs
<Mmm, I would NOT do this... nauplii are fine, even decapsulated (cysts)... but the egg casings of Artemia can be trouble>
to the system (since then I have a lot of white specs in my water that appear to be debris of some sort, I have never had so much white particles, any idea what it could be?
<Perhaps BS shells>
If it is shrimp, they don't appear to be mobile like the copepods do, zig zagging about the water... anyways back to the scooter... I have tried presenting frozen food to Scooter but he just looks at it and goes about hunting for more pods. Is this Scooter just a poor hunter?
Could I possibly not have enough food for him in my rocks... but enough for the Mandarin? They are almost the same size... I'm stumped. Any ideas?
<Oh yes... Do try PE Mysis (shrimp)... frozen/defrosted... possibly an appetite stimulant soak... and consider moving the one Callionymid to a smaller space... to be able to portion food to it, more easily observe its condition if it doesn't appear to be "fattening up">
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>
Re: Skinny Red Scooter and Plump Mandarin   10/26/10
Ah, one more thing... The Mandarin has been in the tank for about four months now. The Scooter has been there for 2 or 3 weeks.
<Ahh, likely still settling in... do try the PE Mysis, and blend in some small amount of small (1 mm.) size Spectrum pelleted food. B>

Scooter blenny- help! Food, sys.   7/8/10
Hello Wet Web Crew and thanks for your help before during my foray into saltwater keeping. Seems this really is a difficult but rewarding hobby.
I have one more (hopefully the last) question that I just can't seem to find the answer to. My aquarium is a 12 gallon (net 15) Aquapod and one of our first fish was a scooter blenny. Not really sure why the LFS would have let us buy it when we were setting up the tank but oh well.
<Most LFS are trying to make a sale, you need to do the research yourself, don't leave it to the people who make a living selling you stuff.>
Unfortunately, as I've been reading the message boards, I see that these creatures need a large tank with copepods for survival, and ours has been getting a little skinnier behind the fins, but it has become my girlfriends favorite fish. She wants to keep it if possible without giving the fish a poor life.
<Most likely will starve in your tank, in fact once they start getting skinny it is very difficult to reverse the process. I would try to get him to a larger, established tank as soon as possible to give it a chance to recover.>
My question is this-
Currently we are using RO/DI instant ocean saltwater and I'm easily able to keep the water maintained, however there are no copepods.
<The "blenny" (actually a dragonet) probably already went through most of them.>
A friend of mine with a large show tank has offered to give me copepods to add to my tank on a weekly basis if I'd like, though it could be a pain to get. The other option, as we live by the ocean, is to grab some NSW, which
I read can be full of copepods. Is it feasible to add a weekly amount of NSW to the tank to feed the blenny or would that not keep the blenny happy?
<Neither of these are probably feasible long term, the margin for error is just too small. Also you would get very little from NSW, the animals you are looking to get live mostly in and on rocks or other hard surfaces.>
Also- What about simply converting the whole tank to NSW?
<Not something I generally recommend, http://www.wetwebmedia.com/seawater.htm .>
We also have the most beautiful Condylactis anemone you've ever seen so I'm concerned about harming that with NSW or just simply ruining the tank, though it would make water changes much simpler. I've read about going out
100 feet to get the water and everything but everyone seems to have a different opinion on the quality of the water (I live in Charleston SC if that helps.) Would the blenny eat the parasitic copepods and so neutralize their effects or would the particulate matter in the water harm the anemone?
<You have some tough things to keep in that tank, I would also recommend moving the anemone to a larger tank. Also anemones and Dragonettes often make poor tankmates, the dragonets becoming expensive meals.
Is tank size for the scooter blenny simply for copepod eating or do they need the large tank for swimming space?
<Mostly for food production, they are voracious eaters.>
I'm wondering if maybe I should just give the blenny to my friend for his show tank and look for an easier fish to keep until we upgrade tank size (I can already feel it coming...)
<I would.>
Thanks for any help you can give! I really don't want to harm this fish!

Mandarin Dragonet - Pellets -- 05/21/10
Hi, how are you today?
<Things are going well. Thanks for asking Ingrid.>
Thank you for all the advice you had giving me so far.
I've read your FAQs about food for mandarin dragonets, but I have one question. I recently bought a medium size Green Mandarin dragonet. My fish tank (100 gallon) doesn't not have a sump, nor copepods.
<I'm not sure this was the best decision.>
I saw that it does eat pellets, but I want to give him food that's more nutritional for him. I do have frozen Mysis shrimp can I feed him this?
<That is amazing! A quality pellet such as the New Life Spectrum brand ones offer great nutrition for marine fish. See if you can get him to eat them, or a similar quality pellet. It really is rare to get a mandarin who will eat pellets with out tedious training. Do try the Mysis.>
What other type of food do you recommend for me to buy?
<If he is eating pellets and not losing weight I wouldn't worry about buying other foods. Keep an eye out that his sides don't start to indent though. Live food supplementation may be necessary. Careful not to ruin his pellet eating habits though.>
I read you suggest to enrich with nutrients the food as well, what kind of nutrition supplements can I buy?
<You have many options here. Selco is a common one, or even baby vitamins.
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/diyfoodfaqs.htm See what your local pet store carries, or look around the FAQs here.>
Do I put in a glass a little bit of water, the frozen shrimp and the nutrition supplement?
<Correct. Let it soak for a little while (in the refrigerator), then feed.>
Thank you in advance
<Best wishes, Scott T.>

Green Mandarin (Synchiropus splendidus), food culture
Hi guys,
<Josh here.>
A week ago I bought "green mandarin" for my 100gal Zoa/LPSs reef tank (17 months old). I have there around 100 lbs of LR.
I don't have any fishes who could compete with little guy for food, except maybe for blue sided wrasse (Cirrhilabrus cyanopleura), but anyway I would like him to be happy, full, fat etc.
I bought bottle of Tigger pods to make my pods population bigger. I bought "arctic pods" for him, so far he doesn't seem to be interested (only one try so far).
I am thinking about buying "Baby Brine Shrimp Hatchery", to regularly hatch for him baby brine shrimps. Do you think it is gonna help him, or it's just waste of time and money (I am talking about baby brine shrimps)?
<Being that your tank is 17 months old and he has no major competitors, I imagine he is grazing quite enough from the natural micro crustaceans on your liverock, I wouldn't be worried about too much additional food, although it certainly won't hurt anything.>
Thanks for any advice.
<You're welcome,
Josh Solomon.>

Mandarin in small tank. 8/6/09
<Josh here tonight.>
I have had a life long fascination with Mandarin Dragonettes and I've been researching caring for a Mandarin for quite some time now. I understand "training" them for frozen food is not ideal, as they don't necessarily get the correct HUFA and it shortens their life (10+ year possible lifespan).
I also understand Mandarins are most at home in a Acropora "forest", especially when breeding. I do understand your stated view on the site is never get a Mandarin unless you have a 100+ gallon tank. But, I do know
that circumstances can change a given situation in certain cases.
Here is my question for you all, as your opinions do greatly matter to me and I would like your opinion on my setup.
I have a 65 gallon (6 month old) tank with a pretty decent Acropora "forest" growing. I have 120+ lbs of live rock in the main tank, 30+ lbs of live rock in the below tank refugium and 5 lbs of live rock rubble in a HOB refugium. I have also stocked this tank twice with Inland Aquatics detritivore kit (pods, worms, etc). I also purchased a bottle of ocean pods and split the bottle between my two fuges and my pod culture. My only other fish in that system are 2 false Percs and a small school of blue/green chromis.
I am culturing Pods using the system outlined by Frank Marini and Dwayne Sapp. In order to feed the pods, I also culture my own phyto (*Nanochloropsis).* If I keep adding pods, will that hurt my system?
<Not unless you add an astronomical number.>
My only fear would be overpopulating them, and having a bunch die and throw all my parameters out of whack. Is there an easy way to tell when the pods are running "low" on the main system?
<Yes, your Mandarin will starve.>
****My question is with this setup, will I be able to healthily maintain a male/female Dragonette in this tank? I am planning on waiting another 3 months to let the pod population stabilize in the tanks and to make sure
my culturing practice is done correctly (I lost one phyto culture due to bad sanitary practices but that has been fixed) live and learn!!
Yes, as you can see I am that taken by these wonderful fish, but I don't want my own "want's" to override the ability for these wonderful fish to not only live, but flourish in my system.
<It is possible that you can allow one Mandarin to live in this system long term, although not likely, and I would certainly not expect one to "flourish". I generally recommend both a 100+ gallon tank that has been established at least one year. Unfortunately your tank is neither of these. Although you have made a wonderful effort, I would not recommend placing one Mandarin in this tank, certainly not two.
I'm afraid you already knew the answer to this question, which is why you asked.
However, I have heard wonderful things about captive bred and raised mandarins, although I would not recommend feeding a mandarin only prepared foods, it would be ideal to have a Mandarin eating prepared food that you supplemented with live food.>
<Good luck, Josh Solomon.>

Splendid mandarin feeding  3/8/09 Hi Bob and crew, greetings again from the South Pacific (NZ). <And to you Mani, from myself, in S. Cal. (US)> I have had a specimen of above in my 5-ft reef setup, with plenty of live rock and an intermittent sandy bottom. I ensured a booming population of visible 'pods' before introducing her (assuming its a "her" due to absence of prominent dorsal spine), and she has thrived since introduction, visibly putting on weight almost immediately. <Good> She continues to appear to thrive, having a great time browsing the infinite nooks and crannies throughout the tank. My question is simple: I know the pod population is still significant (although well controlled), lots of worms etc etc, but WHAT is the mandarin eating?? <Could be all sorts of small marine life... worms, molluscs, crustaceans... though, importantly, not all, even of useful "size" are palatable> She is seen to pick off the sand and rock surfaces, chewing, spitting out fine dust etc, but I would really like to know what her favourites are and also what I can add to the available food chain to strengthen it, as well as introduce some variety, if I make sense? Best regards Mani <Mmm, don't see a direct ref. on Fishbase.org re foods... but do a search "Neosynchiropus diet". Am fairly confident that all species are about the same. Bob Fenner>

Mandarin competitors 2/14/09 Dear All... Thanks for all your invaluable help. I've done lots of research about trying to raise a mandarin dragonet. I've got a 150 gallon tank with about 150 lbs of live rock and 5 inches of aragonite sand with lots of worms. Chemistry is all good; salinity 1.022; <Mmm, too low> nitrate 10; ammonia 0; phosphate 0-5; nitrite 0. No corals (intentional). Currently have 2 2" ocellaris clowns, 1 3.5" canary wrasse; 1 3.5 inch starry eyed blenny; 2 1-1.5 inch neon gobies; 1 blood red shrimp; 1 skunk cleaner shrimp; several Cerith snails; maybe a dozen Nerites; a lot of Nassarius snails; about 3 scarlet reef hermits; half dozen zebra hermits and one 1" hitchhiker green mantis shrimp (watching him for now... fascinating). <Ahh!> My system runs through an overflow to a Aqua Medic Compact Shorty 5000 skimmer with 3500 Oceanrunner pump, to a 35-40 gallon sump/refugium with flourishing Chaetomorpha (and the occasional Aiptasia) and through a Mag Drive 7 return pump. About 6500 gal/hr flow. White/actinic fluorescent lighting. My plan is to maybe ease myself into some corals later down the road after upgrading my lighting. For now, running as fish only. So... about the mandarin. The biggest issue with the mandarins is their feeding... my first question is will copepods/isopods/amphipods from my sump/refugium make it up through the Mag Drive into the main tank enough to maintain a mandarin? <Mmm, yes... a good deal of life does get through these centrifugal pumps... and your sump, system is certainly large enough for culture...> Or will it be more likely that they'll remain in the sump? My other question is do mandarins eat copepods/isopods or amphipods. Read somewhere (forgot where with the hours of reading) that they only eat copepods, not amphipods. Is the attached pic an isopod and mandarin friendly? (or mandarin yummy)? <Can't really make out what this, these are from this image> Finally, I've been unable to find a good list of what fish/invertebrates compete with the mandarin for their food. In the future I'm considering adding some of the following... would these compete and likely reduce the likely hood of the mandarins surviving? The ones I'm considering are: flame anthias(3), purple Firefish(1), flame or coral beauty angel, Naso tang. Will also consider assessors if I could find a good supplier (any suggestions?) <There are several... ask your LFS to special order for you, or look at the on-line etailers like DrsFosterSmith.com... MarineCenter...> Maybe a Copperband butterfly (not sure it's peaceful enough). <Is> Would any of these (or any others you can think of) put a serious dent into the copepod population? <Not likely trouble here... the LR in place, the substrate will also produce a good number of consumable organisms... for all> Thanks in advance for your response! My wife has a coworker who is seriously interested in getting into salt water aquariums and the first direction I'll send her is yours! You guys are invaluable. Sincerely, Scott <Welcome Scott. Bob Fenner>


Re: NovAqua dechlorinator question... actually Copepod culture, Mandarin fdg., comp....   12/11/08 Hello to whomever gets my questions today (and I am sorry in advance as there are many). My questions are listed numerically below: 1) I currently have a 125 gallon FOWLR and am planning a 175 gallon reef. My wife did not give me permission to buy the new tank yet, so I have many months of research until I can annoy her enough to let me get one. <Mmm, worthwhile ploy to try> Anyway, in that new 175 reef, I intend to get a Green Mandarin (Synchiropus splendidus) or a Spotted Mandarin (Synchiropus picturatus). I realize these guys need A LOT of copepods. My question is can I just buy A LOT of copepods for the Mandarin rather than reproduce them? <You could, but...> 2) If I can buy copepods, how many do I need to introduce daily (or weekly) to sustain him. <Depends on the species of Copepods employed, what else is eating them...> 3) I realize that I can just reproduce copepods in the live rock or in a refugium, but I would still need to buy them in order to introduce them to my tank. So, my question is can't copepods (as all living things) introduce diseases into the tank? <Mmm, strictly speaking/writing, yes... but in actual practice this is exceedingly rare... These crustaceans are raised in exacting conditions... sans fish/hosts that would harbor parasites> Should I (can I) quarantine them (this sounds incredibly silly, I know). Is this a reason not to introduce them on a daily/weekly basis to feed the Mandarin? <No need to quarantine... though I'd just grow these in a large, tied-in refugium with a good deal of Live Rock, a DSB... macroalgal culture there...> 4) Can I add 2 Mandarins to a tank? Will 2 males fight - even in a 175? Would there be sufficient food? If not, I go back to my earlier question of introducing more copepods daily/weekly. Could this work? <Yes, maybe, likely, uh huh> 5) Can I also introduce a scooter blenny (Synchiropus ocellatus) into the mix? Does a scooter blenny also feed exclusively on copepods? <Can, and can live on some types of Copepods... see the Net, even WWM (!?) re this group....> 6) Would a Mandarin be compatible with a Coral Beauty Angelfish (Centropyge bispinosus) or a Flame Angelfish (Centropyge loriculus) or would either Angelfish be too aggressive for the docile Mandarin? <Both/either would very likely work out fine here> 7) I also plan on keeping corals (I have not done my research yet, so I can't tell you which ones, but I don't want to limit my options, so I am considering SPS, LPS, softies...). But generally, can you tell me if the Mandarin can get along with all corals (or vice-versa) and if not, which types of corals are off limits? <Some... e.g. Catalaphyllia, might ingest the fish> 8) I also have a question regarding my FOWLR tank. As mentioned above, it is a 125 gallon. The inhabitants are a 2" Rectangle Triggerfish (Rhinecanthus rectangulus), a 2.5" Purple Pseudochromis (Pseudochromis porphyreus) (I know, the trigger might eventually eat it), a 3" Tomato Clownfish (Amphiprion frenatus), and a 4" Imperator Angelfish (Pomacanthus imperator) (I will upgrade the tank eventually). I also plan on getting a 3" puffer (have not decided which one yet) and a 5-6" Blue Hippo Tang (Paracanthurus hepatus) (Yes, I will upgrade the tank in the future). My question is can I add a 5-6" Yellow Goatfish to the mix or is the Goatfish too docile for the above fish? <Would likely get along... but all need more room... soon> 9) Last question, I promise. Do you recommend wearing gloves when sticking my hands into the aquarium (to clean, move rocks, etc.)? If so, what kind of gloves? It's just that I always worry that some residue from my hands will harm or kill my fish (I wash my hands with plain water before touching the aquarium, but I still worry that there might be soap residue somewhere on my hands). <Long-length gloves, and keeping ones arms out entirely (using tongs, other tools) is recommended... as is washing, rinsing ones hands, arms entirely right ahead of sticking them in a system> Thank you so much for your help. I hope you don't blacklist me for asking too many questions. <In future, please cluster questions per subject category... much easier to refer you (do see WWM re Copepods/culture, Mandarins period...), post for others use... Bob Fenner>

Re: Problem with Mandarin   12/10/08 Thank You for your help I have moved her to the display tank and will watch over her as much as I can to check on the healing <Ah, good> she is very timid we only see her about once every two days mostly in and out of the live rock. Thanks <With time, more live foods... best from a tied-in refugium with live rock, a DSB... these fishes learn to be out more and more. Cheers, BobF>

Re: Problem with Mandarin   12/10/08 What kind of live foods are best for the green mandarin? I put two drops of phytomax <Phyto...? Don't eat small algal plankton...> in twice a week that is all they told me it would eat at the store I purchased the mandarin from. <Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/mandfdgfaqs.htm and the linked file in the series above... BobF>

Re: Problem with Mandarin   12/10/08 I have found a site to buy copepods to feed the mandarin..... my tank has had 90lbs of live rock and is been established for 3 1/2 years <Mmm, you may need, do well to add to, or supplant some of the old/er live rock... Loses biodiversity, vitality with time...> do you think I need to feed copepods once a week or so or does my mandarin appear to be healthy enclosed another pic, <Does not appear thin to me> also I was told that the clear snails <? Don't know what this, these are> around the mandarin and blenny were a food source for the mandarin that it would eat the small babies that had not developed shells yet. <Oh, Callionymoids do eat small molluscs> The mandarin maintains this size it did gain more weight at one time but now stays about this size but the blenny as you can see have a huge belly he maintains. <Keep reading. Bob Fenner>

Help... Callionymid... fdg. mostly  08/18/2008 hello <<Good afternoon, Andrew today>> I have set up a marine tank about 8 weeks ago and have got live rock. recently I have purchased a blue cheek goby and a firefish to go in the tank with my mandarin goby and scooter blenny and a blue legged hermit crab which I have had for about 5 weeks, the new fish have been in about 3 weeks and in the past 3 or 4 days my mandarin goby and scooter blenny have both died. <<Yikes....a mandarin and scooter blenny....not a good choice>> I put this down to them getting not enough food or wrong diet, but now my blue legged hermit crab has died too but the 2 new fish are still fine. <<Yes, I would agree, lack of food. These, dragonette's should be added to an established reef which has a good refugium to provide the tank, and fish, a vast supply of copepods. Please do read more here to learn for future including linked articles and FAQ's. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/mandarins.htm . Could be many reasons why the hermit died, acclimatizing procedure, lack of food, already dying when you purchased>> I feed them a brine shrimp in syrup, frozen brine shrimp, flake marine food and fish treats (alternately). can you suggest what is wrong? <<As above, their diet is copepods. All this info and more found in the link above.>> thanks Maria Mccarten <<Thanks for the questions, Maria, hope this helps. A Nixon>>

Keeping scooter blenny alive! Dragonet Feeding   8/04/08 Hello, <Hi> I had a tiny (1" long) scooter blenny in my AquaPod 24 for a little under 4 months. <Almost impossible to keep in this sized tank.> Not knowing a lot about them I accepted the LFS' advise that they will eat "regular food" (which in my tank consists of frozen mysis, frozen Cyclop-Eeze and occasional Spirulina). Well, after about a month we noticed he looked VERY skinny. I panicked and bought 4 bottles of copepods (pint bottles, 2500 per bottle) and dumped them into my tank in the middle of the night with ALL lights out so that they would have a chance to make it to the LR. A few days later VOILA - the blenny appeared to be putting on some weight. About two months later, however, he started to develop a "torpor" of sorts (i.e., just sort of sitting in one spot for a LOOONG time) instead of "scooting" all over the place like he normally did. <Lose of energy was probably due to lack of food, those copepods would probably not last more an a couple weeks.> He did NOT appear skinny. About week later, he was found dead behind some LR. <Once they get skinny they rarely recover, they need lots of pods to sustain themselves, especially when small and trying to grow rapidly.> Any clues as to what could have killed him? Do you think he needed more than the copepods? Do they need algae (my tank has none at all)? <Nope, but they need a constant supply of pods, they eat/hunt almost constantly.> Regards, John Toro <As stated above, keeping a dragonet in such a small tank is next to impossible without culturing copepods outside of the aquarium, and even then it remains difficult. Please see here for more http://www.wetwebmedia.com/mandarins.htm .> <Chris>

Re: Keeping scooter blenny alive! Dragonet Feeding   8/04/08 Chris, <Hello> Thanks for the info. <Welcome> I went to this page: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/mandarins.htm and found that if you do a search on "live plankton fish food" you will find sources of food for blennies. <Just want to be clear, what you have is not a blenny, but a dragonet which has very different dietary needs.> However, all I came up with was this link http://www.sunfood.com/b2c/ecom/ecomEnduser/items/xt_itemDetailNF.aspx?i temNum=1299&siteId=1&bulkexists=0&gclid=CIvk5pLK9JQCFQ4hnAodjXNgqw which was a link for human vitamin supplements. ??????????????? <Interesting, I came up with many aquarium related responses. However, I don't think any will ultimately help your situation, the dragonets simply do not do well in such small tanks.> Regards, John <Chris>

Re: Keeping scooter blenny alive! Dragonet Feeding 8/04/08 Understood about the small tank, I'll refrain from getting any more until I upgrade to a larger tank. Regards, John <I think this is for the best, they really need a mature 100G aquarium with an appropriate amount of live rock to prevent starvation. Quite an appetite for such a small fish.> <Chris>

Re: Keeping scooter blenny alive! Dragonet Feeding 8/04/08 I think this is for the best, they really need a mature 100G aquarium with an appropriate amount of live rock to prevent starvation. Quite an appetite for such a small fish. <well, when one considers how tiny copepods are, it's not too surprising that they have to eat a lot of them to stay alive> Regards, John <Truth> <Chris>

Feeding mandarin in QT, 5/16/08 Hello Crew! <Hi> A new family member has arrived in the form of a green mandarin. I have him in QT as SOP for new arrivals. However, most arrivals eat in QT, and the mandarin does not. <Can be difficult in this regard.> I've tried to locate copepods from my LSF's to no avail. The only thing I found (ordered blindly at the advice of a semi-trustworthy LFS) turned out to be only copepod eggs (Reef Pods from Algagen), so straight into the main display's fuge they went. Of course, these teeny tiny things were otherwise useless for QT; they were truly of no size at all. I almost think I bought snake-oil - and I know there exist myriad such products on the market thanks to your site. So, now I have a bored Mandarin that looks otherwise healthy after 6 days in the QT, and surely he's really hungry by now. I don't think plucking creatures that scurrying about on my rocks at night would be a successful endeavor on my part. I don't want to give anything to my Paracanthus, especially Ich, but I also don't want to stress the mandarin any further. Advice? Regards, Joel Pippin <This is one of the few fish that I would not guarantee for a great length of time, both because of their difficulties in feeding and their general hardiness and resistance to common pathogens. Of course this is no guarantee, and with the notoriously susceptible paracanthus there is a certain degree of risk. However, feeding a mandarin in a bare bones QT is difficult at best, and could easily lead to its demise over the course of a month. So what to do, if it were my tank I would give the mandarin a good look over, and if you don't see any signs of disease, a FW dip, preferably with some Methylene Blue and into the main tank it goes. In this case you need to balance one risk against another, and it's not any easy decision.> <Chris>

Mandarin Goby Eating Mysis/Video 4/25/08 Crew- <Wes> Here's something I thought you might enjoy. The video is a bit shaky because I was trying to ward off a cleaner shrimp, and of course the white balance is off, but you get the point. He's eating Mysis. I've been trying to feed him several times daily to suit his metabolism. I work at a pet shop and I always check to see if the mandarins eat. This one did, so I took him home. Anyhoo, without further ado, http://youtube.com/watch?v=29J_S7bMY1A Enjoy! <Thank you for sharing your experience with us. James (Salty Dog)> Wes

Refugium and Scooter Blenny Utilizing a Refugium for Supplemental Food Production  -02/20/08 Hi Crew, <Hey there, Scott F. with you today!> First, here are my stats. <Here are mine- I'm 5' 7", brown hair, I'm a Sagittarius..oh- wait, wrong site!> Aquarium experience: 2 years Marine experience: 5 months Tank System:: FOWLR 30 gallon long, 5 months old, 4 inch sand bed, 40 lbs live rock, Fluval 204 canister filter, AquaC Remora Pro Protein Skimmer with Surface Prefilter, a 2 gallon hang-on-back refugium, etc (powerhead, heater). Pistol Shrimp, Cleaner Shrimp, small Yellow Clown Goby, Star Blenny, Blue-Green Chromis, and snails. I have a Royal Gramma in quarantine tank right now recovering from ich. <Good practice to treat the fish in a separate aquarium> The skimmer and fuge are new additions as of last weekend, and I have not seen any copepods in my tank for months. <Well, it's going to take a while for them to reproduce in significant numbers.> My questions are: 1) Can I prepare a good habitat (keep enough copepods) for a Scooter Blenny with my tank size through using the fuge and lots of live rock? Or should the Scooter wait until I move out of my apartment and therefore am allowed to get a larger system? I know you've recommended 100 gallons per copepod-eating fish in an open system, but that seemed to not be accounting for refugia. <The 100 gallon recommendation is a good one, but not an absolute, in my opinion. It takes into account a sort of hypothetical "production level" of animals that can serve as food sources. The thought is that 100 gallons is sufficiently large to generate enough food for a given fish to consume without competition. A refugium, of course, provides a "safe haven" for the food animals to develop without concern of them being eaten by the Scooter or other fishes as rapidly as they are produced. As such, it will benefit your Scooter if stocked and maintained properly. Without such efforts, a new aquarium is a grim prospect for a fish such as the Scooter, which depends on live foods for a good percentage of its diet. Without a steady supply of these organisms, it is really not a good idea to keep one of these fish, IMO.> 2) If so, how should I set up my small fuge (and the rest of my system) to maximize the copepod population and otherwise best suit the Scooter? Thanks for the help, Jack <Well Jack, you could utilize some pieces of live rock "rubble" (like golf ball to hand-sized), piled loosely in the refugium. The course rock will provide foraging and habitat for copepods. In addition, utilize a macroalgae like Chaetomorpha in the refugium, which affords a suitable substrate for small animals, such as Mysids, to forage and reproduce. The nutrients and uneaten food from your display will provide sufficient nutrition for the developing copepod and Mysis populations. To speed up the productivity, you could "seed" your refugium with some animals from an established system, or you can purchase "kits" of these animals from a variety of e-tailers, which contain starter populations that can get your refugium going. Best of luck to you! Regards, Scott F.>

Dactylopus dactylopus not eating 01/19/2008 Hi guy(s) <<Hello, Andrew here>> My LFS has a Dactylopus dactylopus that I am interested in for my 180 gallon reef tank. He arrived last week and we have been watching him closely. we did not even know what type of fish he was when he came in to the store. after searching your fishbase.org page I found him :) Great tool!! Well anyway we have yet to see him eat.. and I never see him open his tale fin he does look healthy. we have tried all sorts of live and frozen food. So I guess my question is... Do they eat at night? I am guessing they don't if they are anything like the mandarin  (which I have in my 55 gallon reef and he eats some frozen foods Lucky me :) ) Or do you think it is his surrounding... he is housed in a 55 gallon tank with a pebble bottom (I have stated to the LFS they like sand) the only fish in the tank with him is a group of medium size chromis. Thanks for your time!!! bill <<These act in the same manner as the mandarin and usually will be constantly feeding itself with copepods from the rock and sand. They are not nocturnal feeders, and when housed in a tank with the correct substrate, will actually bury itself at night, and just have its eye showing. Hope that helps>> <<Thanks for the questions, A Nixon>>

Starving Dragonet 12/9/07 I have an established reef tank with a live sand and crushed coral substrate mix that had been established for about a year. In addition to the live sand substrate I have 25 + pounds of live rock. I have had a scooter blenny for about 11 months and it has thrived. Recently though it has changed from a dark gray color to a tan color and lost significant weight. Should I worry or is this natural? Also what can cause this?? <I would worry, you do not have anywhere near the amount of live rock needed to provide food for this fish. He is starving.> Also around the same time I lost two Nassarius snail without warning. All my water conditions are perfect and I can't explain what is happening in my tank. <Any number of things could have caused this. Possibly a hungry hermit crab or just coincidence they died at the same time. Crushed coral is not the best substrate for these snails. > Thanks for your help. <You're welcome. Please read through http://wetwebmedia.com/mandarins.htm and related FAQ's for more information about what is going on with your fish. Good luck, Scott V.>

Marine Betta and the Mandarin Challenge!!! Feeding  -- 09/29/07 Hey Y'all, I would briefly like to complement Bob on his ability to help me coax my many animals into eating. Especially my notorious fasting Calloplesiops altivelis (aka Marine Betta). Thought I would share with you how I got him to start feeding on frozen foods. <Please do> Most of my other fish "sleep" during the night but he is always awake; so, I decided to try and feed him while he had no competition. Tada, he feasted on Selcon soaked midis <Mysids?> shrimp and blood worms to his hearts content. After a few days, he realized the food I offered during the day was also possible prey and now comes out to feed. I also bought a few hundred saltwater feeder shrimp. He seems to enjoy the hunt :) and seems to be healthy. Anyhoo, want to take on the Mandarin Challenge. I want to put a Mandarin in the aquarium I have in my guest restroom. I have been reading about them and I am pretty sure my refugiums can supply them with enough copedes to keep them properly feed. I have about 200gallons of refugiums thriving with copedes <Copepods...> and worms and full of Caulerpa. I want to keep him alone in a 20gallon tank full of live rock it has tons of copedes and tiny crustaceans but he will eat all of them in a couple of weeks from what I have read so I wan to tie it into my fishless refugiums. I have a few questions and I don't want to kill the little guy that I end up with. Is the 20gallon large enough or should I move up to a larger tank? <Larger would be better...> I would like to keep it as small as possible. If I tie in my refugiums from my show tank will this feed him properly? <Maybe... You should be able to see/discern this... thinness...> If I do this though how would I quarantine him? <I wouldn't quarantine Callionymids> If I decide to run him on a system separate from my main setup how large of a refugium would keep the little guy happy and well feed? <... the bigger...> I want to set this up and I am going to try and do it right. Also, I am wondering if I couldn't feed the Mandarin the rotifers that I culture for my fish fry? <Likely too small...> Do hermit crabs eat copedes <...> I have always keep my refuges completely fallow but I was thinking I might stick a few hermit crabs and snails to help keep things clean? I have read though that these little fish can get killed by another inhabitant looking at them crudely. Thanks in advance for any help you might be able to give, Zach <BobF>

Fallow tank, ich, and a hungry Mandarin   9/1/07 Hello all, First off, let me say thank you for all that you do. I would've left the hobby long ago very frustrated were it not for you all and your efforts. <I might have too. :) > Let me quickly get to my question. My main tank came down with ich and following your advice I pulled all fish from the display and am now keeping them in QT. One of the fish in the main display was a Mandarin Dragonet. My main tank is chock full of pods for him to eat, but I'm afraid I can't say the same for his quarantine tank. I've been hatching brine shrimp for him in the meantime, but I've read that they're not very nutritious. I also started some stand alone pod cultures but it'll be a while before they really get going and that is a viable food source for him. Given how disease resistant the Mandarin can be, can he safely live in the main tank during the fallow period? By putting him back in am I basically negating all the time that I have had the tank empty? Basically, will he act as a vector to keep the parasite population alive, such that after 6 weeks when I repatriate the other fish they are still likely to get infected all over again. Thanks for your help! <Just to be safe, you should probably keep the mandarin in the quarantine tank. Baby brine may not be completely nutritious, but if he's eating them, they should keep him going until you can put them all back. Not that it should ever ever happen, but healthy fish can survive weeks without food (just like how healthy people can actually go over a month without food). Feeding the mandarin only baby brine is like feeding a person only cookies and beer for a few weeks. Granted, it's not healthy or ideal, but it shouldn't be too bad for short turn.> -Fred <Best, Sara M.>

Scooter Blenny Woes, fdg.  -- 08/28/07 Hi there. <<Hello!>> I had a moment of weakness today, and impulsively purchased a very healthy looking Scooter Blenny for my 65g mixed-reef. <<Mmm, yes...Dragonets can prove problematic to feed properly, even in twice this volume>> The tank is sump-less, with about 80lbs of live rock and a 4" DSB. <<The DSB is a plus for the micro-fauna within...but the sump-less design, or more accurately, the lack of a plankton-generating refugium counts against the odds for this fish>> Half of the rock came from my previous setup, and the other half I bought from the LFS two months ago, cured. The tank was seeded with the sand from the previous setup. The only other fish is a Royal Gramma and small Maroon Clown. <<This latter will come to rule (read: terrorize!) this tank in time>> I know that this fish needs lots and lots of natural, live food. <<Indeed, or at least until it is trained to a vitamin-soaked alternative...if ever. And even so, this alone will likely not be enough as the fishes dietary requirements are not well/completely understood...thus the need for a natural supply of foodstuffs>> At the moment, there are tons of "pods" visible on the glass and on the sand, and I even watched the little guy pick-off a couple (euclid?) worms from the rock. <<Mmm...don't know what a Euclid worm is (isn't Euclid a city in Ohio?). Perhaps you mean 'Sipunculid', aka the Peanut Worm...though I think this to be an unlikely meal for the Dragonet>> My concern, however, is without a sump or refugium, nor any macro-algae in the tank, will the pod/micro fauna population be able to sustain itself enough to provide an ongoing food source for this fish? <<Not likely, the fish will eventually consume the breeding population. You may be able to extend/boost the populations with frequent additions of new live rock or retail 'pod' cultures, but this will prove tedious/expensive. Perhaps a refugium is in your future...>> As always, thanks... Eric <<Happy to assist. EricR>>

Mandarin fdg. Mis- over-stocked nano   8/3/07 Hi Bob. Love this site - thank you for this great resource! I have a quick question regarding the Mandarin - <Mmm, actually there are more than 120 Callionymid species...> I know that you recommend a tank of at least 100 gallons which can house sufficient live rock to sustain the number of copepods necessary to keep the fish healthy for a prolonged period. I really like this fish, and have been trying to research whether or not he could be kept in a Nano if I frequently added live copepods to the tank to replenish the supply, and, if so, if you could suggest the best product/retailer for live copepods? <Mmm... there are some outfits that are starting to sell such... but I assure you... growing your own is the only practical, cost-effective means...> Also, if this won't work, is there any other live food that is proven to work for this fish without fouling the water quality? <Again... not really/practically... too easy to have human nature result in loss...> I have a 16 gallon nano with about 20lb of live rock and a 2" live sand bed. Its current inhabitants are a very small cowfish <... misplaced> (I am planning on moving him to a bigger tank when he outgrows my Nano), <Will be dead first... perhaps taking your other stock with it...> several corals, <?> 2 snails, 5 hermits, one coral banded shrimp <... trouble. Stenopids are too predaceous to be kept in such a setting> and a cleaner shrimp. <Will be consumed> In addition to the Mandarin (which I will only add if I can resolve this food issue) I may add a pair of clown fish, <No my friend. You don't have the space here> but then I would be done. I perform 10% water changes once a week and have an in-sump CPR skimmer, with the Viper 150watt HQI metal halide clamp-on light. Thank you very much in advance for any advice you can give me. Lindsey. <I strongly suggest your starting a savings program... ala Dale Carnegie... and buy a much larger system... You've got the "pet-fish fever" (along with the rest of us addicts) that only more useful space can alleviate (temporarily). Bob Fenner>

Re: stocking nano, Mandarin    8/4/07 Thank you for your response. I actually already have 2 larger tanks at home - the Nano is in my office, so a larger tank there is not really an option. Clearly I will rule out the clowns based on your advice, and I will remove the coral banded shrimp. <Ah, good> I am a little confused by your comment that I am overstocked. I currently have only one fish (albeit a misplaced cow fish), <This fish needs a volume times larger alone...> two shrimp <The CBS is trouble here...> and snails and hermit crabs. By way of corals, I have one frag of zoanthids (about 10 polyps), <Too toxic...> about 1/2 square inch frag of blue Clavularia, a baby Montipora, about 4 polyps of Lord Acanthastrea and two Ricordea mushrooms. I also have <she cringes in anticipation of a serious trousering> a very small Goniopora. <Yikes!> the Goniopora is on the sand and well away from all the other corals. I know you feel strongly about these corals, and I can only say that I was given it as a gift for my bigger tank at home and have imported it to this tank because the clownfish in my bigger tank were messing with it. I am sure you will tell me that its short-term demise is inevitable, and I'm sure you are right about that, but all I can do at this point is learn as much as possible about the coral and try my best to keep it alive. <And not add to problems I hasten to mention> I am feeding it liquid life BioPlankton and reef- roids and hoping for the best. I was also curious about the "human nature resulting in a loss" part of your response. <Mmm, "to err is human" sort of thing... It seems (more likely absolutely appears) that our species (esp. in the west) is bent of "acquisition" tendency... Consuming, buying, putting more and more... in this case, livestock in any given container> I am not concerned with the expense of obtaining food for the fish, and if I do get one, I will be committed to its well being - which is why I am asking if -ruling out the cost- the fish can be healthily maintained by purchasing food. I don't feel like I got a clear answer... <Mmm, let me try again: More than expense, food involved here... The physical size of the world directly bears on the health of what we keep... psychologically often more than physiologically. This tank's too small... Is this clear?> I don't deny that I have the fever, but I am trying to be responsible (if you rule out the cowfish indulgence). All that said, I have learned so much from your site and I totally appreciate the tough-love approach. The biggest lesson in my induction into this hobby has been that LFS are seemingly universally staffed by individuals who are either mendacious, overly optimistic or well meaning but poorly informed - your site is a magnificent and much needed resource. Thanks again. <Ahh, just like presidential et al. public elections... the "consumer" gets what they "pay" for/choose. Thank you for your kind words. BobF>

Re: Mandarin  stkg., fdg.    8/4/07 Thank you. No Mandarin for me, then. Tank is too small :) <Yay! :! B> Ocellated Dragonet... fdg. referral   7/21/07 Dear Crew, I have read your site and much FAQ's on the blenny, but unfortunately after I have already bought it. When I first bought this guy, my local store told me it would be fine in my tank. I have a 40 Gallon reef system with a good amount of live rock that currently houses soft corals, an anemone, <Mis-mixed here... could eat the Dragonet...> 2 false percula clownfish, 1 cardinal fish, 10 hermit crabs, 1 sea cucumber, <Which species?> 1 brittle star, various snails, and a Ocellated Dragonet. My tank has been set up for a few months, and my water quality is in check, with a salinity of 1.025. I have noticed thought that ever since I got my scooter blenny, the pod population has been alot <No such word> harder for me to spot, and the blenny doesn't move around as much anymore, or at least today. I don't know if the pods are just hiding away or they aren't there? Anyway, should I give it back to the store, or can I try feeding live brine shrimp to my system? Finest Regards, Robert Bertino <Time to read: http://wetwebmedia.com/mandarins.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Mandarin, fdg. training success    7/19/07 Dear Crew, <Paul> After all the free advice I have gleaned from you over the years I thought I would share something I have learned. I have been able to teach a scooter blenny to eat frozen mysis and spurred by that success have taught a Psychedelic Mandarin to eat frozen mysis as well. <Ahh!> I have debated writing this to you as I did not want to encourage others to try my experiment and thus possibly doom more of these fishes. <You are wise here... and compassionate... from the Latin "to bear pain with"> If you choose not to print this in the dailies I will not be the least bit disappointed and quite frankly a little relieved. I have a 30 gallon tank with 35 lbs of live rock and various SPS, Coco worms, T. Crocea, Zoanthids, and something the LFS called Woods polyps. <Likely a colloquialism, or local culturist...> 21 gallon custom sump w/refugium, two 5.5 gallon hang on the sump refugiums and Aquatinics T-5 lights. I took plastic gutter guard and formed a cylinder about 2.5"-3" in diameter and 6" long. I sealed one end with more gutter guard and zip ties, packed it with live rock rubble and then sealed the other end. I built three of these and placed one in each refugium I waited about 1 week then took one out squirted it with Selcon and Vita Chem and placed one in the tank near where the Mandarin always hunted. He immediately went to the cage and began picking all the pods that came out. I switched these cages everyday repeating the squirt of Selcon and Vita Chem. After about two weeks I left the same one in the tank for about three days. I took some frozen mysis thawed it then soaked it in Selcon and Vita Chem and squirted it directly on the cage and immediately he went over and began eating the mysis. I have done this to 2 different Psychedelic Mandarins the first one I traded to a friend who could not get his to eat. I leave one of the cages in the tank behind the rockwork but the mandarin goes after any shrimp that hits the ground anywhere in the tank now. I know the dismal survival rate of these fishes so I began experimenting but I would like to stress I have 3 refugiums plumbed together just in case and mysis is not the sole source of food. Here's the part that may anger you, my coco worms I know they usually don't do well in small systems but they are all on the one year mark and have not popped a top yet. I also have a Leopard Wrasse who is about 6 months and fat. The scooter blenny has hit the 18 month mark and is getting huge. For my SPS I only buffer the top off water and add a scoop of calcium everyday. These are the only additives I add to my tank simple but effective. Weekly water changes and a good skimmer and it all has been working. This all started because my wife absolutely would not allow a bigger tank but she did say I could add a sump (or three). Now all I need is a Dendronephthya and a Cleaner Wrasse and I'm all set (just kidding). <Heee!> Thanks for all the help Paul <Thank you for sharing Paul. You have saved many organisms and hobbyist troubles by coming forward with the report of your successes. Life to you my friend. Bob Fenner>

Mandarin hopeful, fdg., sys.    5/16/07 Hi guys, thank you so much for maintaining such a wonderful web site.  I bet you're tired of answering Mandarin questions, but I have another one for you.   I am another victim of consumer ignorance.  I had a 26 gal reef tank established for about 2 years when I decided I should buy a Mandarin.  I had poor internet service at the time and relied on marine fish books for all my info.  Looking back, I am truly shocked just how little is said about Mandarins being hard to keep. <Mmm, don't be too surprised (I'm not)... many of the standard works on marine aquarium keeping have been written by non-hobbyists... Folks with very little practical experience.> So I bought a lovely young Mandarin and introduced him to my tank that housed a pair of clowns, a bi-color angel and a scooter blenny (big mistake I guess since scooters eat the same stuff as Mandarins). <Yes. Most species sold as such are actually Callionymids... Mandarin/Psychedelic Goby/Dragonet family members...> anyway I got wise to the whole situation a few weeks after buying the little guy and wasn't surprised when his body weight started to diminish.  After weeks of close examination of the Mandarin, I also came to notice that my scooter blenny was in a bad way as well (sunken in chest area and bone showing a bit).  At night when I turned the tank lights off I could see TONS of copepods swimming around so I was really puzzled as what to do. <Some such crustaceans are palatable, many are not...> The pair seemed to listless to give chase to the creatures, even when the swam right in front of them.  I dosed tigger pods by the bottle, fed numerous frozen foods that were supposedly Mandarin approved... <If accepted... most specimens need to be trained onto... many don't accept> grew brine shrimp, etc.  He's stayed about the same.  The blenny on the other hand gained a lot of flesh and is now a very active feeder.      Well I have recently upgraded my tank.  I now have a 50 gal (20 sump) tank with tons more live rock and a good deal of sand.  I know Mandarins are recommended to have more, but I'm going to give it a shot.  I've had him for almost 7 mo.s now.  Anyway, it's kind of funny, the blenny and Mandarin are now 'pals' and the blenny seems to encourage the Mandarin to eat the various foods I provide. <Ah, good> A few days ago I caught the Mandarin with a huge piece of sponge (from the angel food) stuck in his mouth.  Poor guy took about an hour to eat the thing, but I was happy to see SOMETHING going into him.  He seems more energetic about feeding now, and I know it's mostly owed to the blenny's encouragement.  I know frozen foods aren't the solution, but I think he has more energy to hunt his real sustenance.  My real question is, is it ever too late for a starved fish to recover? <No, never too late> I like to think where there's life, there's hope, but looking at my poor skinny Mandarin makes me wonder.  The blenny has had a complete 360, but are Mandarins of less hearty stock? <By and large, yes>   I am starting to feel hopeful because of his recent change in behavior.   Well thank you so much for taking the time.     Alyssa Schladt <Do consider soaking all applied foods and the water (weekly) with a feeding stimulant (vitamin and HUFA prep.) like Selcon. Life to you my friend. Bob Fenner>
Re: Mandarin hopeful  5/17/07
Thanks for the quick response, I'll stay hopeful for now.  I am setting up a refugium this week and wonder what you recommend to seed it with.... I usually buy tigger pods, but am curious if there might be a more readily accepted species? <Likely so... but don't think there is something/someone selling such specifically... Almost always the mix of what "comes" from a refugium will suit> The web sites that sell them are no help!   Thanks again,   Alyssa Schladt <Just try some new/er live rock in the 'fuge... this will seed/inoculate the sand substrate, produce sufficient life... Bob Fenner>

Competing for Copepods. Mandarin in 40 Gallon?  - 4/6/07 Hey WWM Crew. <Hi.> I am a huge fan of the site and consult it regularly. <Awesome.> I have a question that I am hoping you could give me an answer to. <Will do my best.> My current set up is a 6 month old 40 gallon reef tank with 30 lbs. of live rock and 20 lbs. of live sand. <Cool.> The fish I have are a pair of true percula clowns, a Yasha haze shrimp goby, and an orchid Dottyback. <Neat mix.> I really want to add a mandarin <Mmm...you won't like my answer then...> as the final fish but I know how you feel about putting mandarins in anything but a 100 gallon with a refugium. <Not just us, but others as well...some even feel that the above would not be enough.  Many of us have seen mandarins, more than one, starve in less than suitable environments.> But I am persistent. <A good trait to have.> I was reading the FAQs and found one where someone set up a separate 20 gallon tank as a refugium with live rock, live sand and macro algae for culturing their own copepods. <An off-line refugium, lots of work but do-able.> Then every so often supplement the copepod culture in the main tank with copepods from the refugium. <Would have to be very-often with a mandarin.> I also had this idea but was just wondering if you thought it would work in my tank or not. <The odds are not in your favor.> The only problem I can foresee is the orchid Dottyback eating too many copepods and amphipods before the mandarin gets a chance. <Yes this would...will be...a problem in even a much larger tank. Not recommended.> Thank you. <Of course.> You guys are life savers. <Thanks, AJ.>

Mandarin strategy, nutr.   3/28/07 Hey guys, thanks for taking the time to read and reply.  Recently my local LFS got a mandarin dragonette in they were not prepared for (mistake in the order)  my LFS of choice is the most responsible I have ever seen and quarantines all fish before even putting them upfront for sale.  Anyhow, the owner and I pretty much figure this mandarin for a goner, it already has a concave stomach. <Yikes. Too typical> Rather than watch it die, I decided to do my best and try and save it, rather than ensure its doom in a LFS tank or that of an inexperienced hobbyist. I know right out my tank is not large enough to sustain the mandarin, so I have started brine cultures to help put on mass fast - the mandarin will only need a few days to decimate my pod population. I plan on hatching the brine, gut loading w/ phyto for a few hors, then feeding before the yolk sack is gone, using a turkey baster. I have a culture of tigger pods on the way, and a 30 gallon setup for culture as well.   <Good> Eventually I would like to wean the mandarin off live foods, a difficult if not impossible task I know, but it has been done, and I hope, if the mandarin survives the short term I can make a go at long term success.   <Can be done> My idea is that if I turn off all pumps and introduce all live foods (pods or brine) via a turkey baster every time, and in the same area, that I might condition a feeding response that could eventually result in me using the baster to introduce Cyclop-Eeze and other frozen/prepared foods. <Sounds good... I'd add an appetite stimulant to the soaked foods as well> My nagging concern is that w/ all me and this little fella have stacked against us already, I am forgetting something.  Any thoughts?  If I can only get through a couple of years, he'll have a nice 300 gallon home. <Mmm, have you read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/mandarins.htm and the linked files above? Bob Fenner>

Happy Mandarin? Not a dish at the oriental restaurant, fdg.    -- 03/15/07 Hi WWM crew, thanks for your years of help. <Welcome> I have recently inherited a Mandarin from a friend, and would very much like to keep him happy. I am aware of the difficulties associated with feeding these creatures and would like to insure that he has an adequate supply of live food. <Good idea> I have a 1.5 year old 75gal. reef with a 10gal. under tank refugium. The total system has about 100lbs of liverock. I also house a Blue Regal Tang, True Percula Clown, Lawnmower Blenny, Sixline Wrasse, and Royal Gramma. I am aware that several of these fish will compete for food supply. Is there really any hope of my successfully keeping this fish with the current tank mates? <Mmm, yes...> He is a large specimen (2 ½ in) and is thinner than either of us would like. For about a week he was very active in the front of the tank, and I would see him suck in (eat?) about 5 times per minute. In the last week he has be become reclusive and spends most of his daylight hours VERY close to a powerhead hidden in the rocks. In the rare event that I can catch a glimpse, he is eating. Is it likely that he has found a wealth of pods and is fatting up? <Maybe... sometimes this (and other fish groups) become "fixated" in their location, behavior... Maybe more food items are hanging around there...> He comes out before the lights come on and I think that he is looking good. How quickly could I hope to see weight gain? <Takes time... weeks...> My refugium has a DSB and healthy supply of Amphipods and Brine shrimp that are in the Chaetomorpha, but I am not sure how many get in to the main tank. I realize that the Mandarin can not live on Brine alone, so I would like to proactively promote copepod growth. Is there anything I can do to promote copepods in the refugium, or should I start a separate copepod culture using some of my refugium water?   <If this animal were/is very thin, I would place it directly in the refugium for now> If I make a separate culture tank, as discussed on this and other sites, do I need to buy more pure copepod seed packs or will some refugium water suffice? <The latter> I am also planning on dumping about a gallon of refugium water into the main tank every week to encourage a pod bloom. <Mmm, worth trying, but likely will just feed the system a bit more> Is there anything else that I can do in the main tank to promote copepod growth? If the Mandarin continues to look thin, should I put him in the refugium? <Ah, yes> Thanks for your help, Scott <And adding another or larger living sump as you state. Bob Fenner>

Hypothetical Mandarin question, fdg.    2/16/07 Aloha all.     While exploring a new "fish adoption palace" at lunch, I overheard one of the workers telling a customer: "sure you can put a Mandarin in a newly setup tank, all you have to do is wait for it to cycle, then get this stuff called Reef Bugs (TM) off of the Internet and give it a week. <... at least, last a Weiss product that seems worthy... but no to the mandarin placed in such a setting... of course. Ho buoy!>   It'll be ready for your little guy right then.  Want me to hold this one for you?"    <"Nah, put it in my coffee cup, I'll take it with me right now">     This sounds like pretty bad advice, considering all I have read here and elsewhere.  Upon investigating the mentioned product, it seems that it would not contain 'pods nor black worms, which I understand to be the main food source for Mandarins.    <Yes... though I have it in good confidence that this pricey number (was $24 buck o las in SC last week) is a/the real thing otherwise. Most Callionymids (species, specimens) can be trained on to non-live foods... but that being stated, most all do poorly on such compared with provision of live, particularly more or less constantly provided live from DSBs, refugiums...>    Having considered this, how WOULD you feed a picky fish like a Mandarin if you placed him in a featureless quarantine tank (as there'd be no rock for him to graze on...)? <With frequent additions of live... and/or healthy LR (Q is not treatment, eh?)... Or better still, quick dips and into their main system/s... as stated by moi on WWM, articles, books... a SOP for all such small, likely-to-perish species. BobF>      quizzically,   Darby

Spotted Mandarin Question... fdg., culture tank  - 02/15/07 Hi Crew, I'm a first time emailer, but have been using the site for some time now to answer all of my questions.  I've got a 30 gallon long tank with protein skimmer, 30lbs of rock, and a 2" DSB. <Mmm, needs to be about twice this depth>   From reading past posts I know this tank will not grow enough copepods to support the mandarin.  I am thinking about a 20 gallon copepod culture tank split into 2 sections just in case one of the cultures crashes.  Would this setup support a mandarin? <Hopefully so... I would "tie in" (plumb) this culture tank into your present display>   From the other posts I have read from people with similar setups, they have all been using 10 gallon copepod culture tanks and your response is that it is not enough.  Just wondering if an increase in the size of the culture tank makes that much of a difference? <Yes... more stable... Bob Fenner>

Re: Spotted Mandarin Question  - 02/15/07 Thanks Bob!  I was looking at the mag-drive pumps to return the water to the display.  I know reef systems need to have the water turned over 10x.  My question is, do I factor in the 20 gallon size of the culture tank? <Mmm, all actual gallonage is added for most types of calculations... however, please do read re circulation issues and Refugiums on WWM... you don't want this much movement through the actual culture area> So roughly, I would need to turn over 500 gallons (30galln + 20gallon = 50gallon).  Or do I just factor the size of the display tank, only needing to turn over 30 gallons 10x.  It's the difference between the mag-drive 350 or 500.  I will double the thickness of my sand bed as you suggested.  Thanks!! <Mmm... read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marsetupindex2.htm BobF>

Mandarin in a 20 gallon tank with a refugium   1/30/07 <Greetings, Mich here tonight.> I am looking into making a refugium for my 20 gallon salt tank.  I have a yellow striped maroon clown, bubble tip anemone, blood red shrimp and coral banded shrimp.  I would like to add a green mandarin to the setup and that would be all I have in there in terms of live stock.  I also have about 15 lbs of live rock and live sand.  I am looking at the refugium both in order to increase the water volume somewhat and to use it for the propagation of pods for the mandarin.  The refugium would have some live sand and rock rubble in it.  If I build the refugium with an overflow return will this be able to move some of the pods into the tank.  I already have a ton of them in the tank but with the mandarin possibly being introduced I want to make sure there is a renewable supply of them.   <I hate to be the bearer of bad news here, but I just don't think this tank can produce enough microfauna to support a mandarin (Synchiropus spp), especially with only 15 pounds of live rock.  Please reconsider your choice.  This fish will slowly and painfully waste away and eventually perish.  Even with a refugium it is highly unlikely you will be able to provide enough pods to sustain this beautiful fish with such a small setup. Sorry to be so discouraging, -Mich>   

Mandarin <fdg., hlth> Question  12/29/06 Thanks for such a great, informative, fascinating web site!!!  I hope I am not wasting your time with info that is already in the archives, but I have read through everything on mandarins and I'm worried about mine. <Lets hear it.> I have wanted a mandarin for quite awhile so we read and starting preparing.  We have a 100 gallon well established tank with 100 pounds plus of live rock and a fuge.  <Sounds like a good home.>  Inhabitants include 2 sebae clowns and a yellow tang, peppermint shrimp, invertebrates, and assorted corals.  Parameters are ammonia/nitrate/nitrite: 0, pH:  8.1, temperature:  81, SG:  1.025.  The calcium reactor and test kit were ordered for Christmas! <Nice> We thought we were ready for the mandarin and purchased her (I think her based on fin size??) three days ago.  She looked ok in the store, but when we got her home we realized she is VERY skinny.  At the store she was eating brine (not sure if this means she is "trained" or just starving and desperate). <Either, hopefully the former.> She is very active in our tank and appears to be hunting the pods (constantly moving around the rock and pecks at the rock although I cannot see if she actually grabs a pod when she does this).  <Good sign.>  I know mandarins and especially skinny ones have a poor survival rate. <Unfortunately> My question is what is the best way to try and fatten her up?  Should I just leave her to the pods and fate or can I try and supplement with Mysis, bloodworms, etc. even though this is not the nutrition she needs for long term survival? <I would try a little frozen food, preferably the Mysis soaked in Selcon for a little extra boost.  If she takes it so much the better.> I feel like we have an ample pod population esp. with the fuge, but I am worried since I'm starting out with an already compromised specimen.   Thanks for your help!  MLF <Sounds like you have planned ahead and are ready for this somewhat demanding fish.  Hard to say what its chances are based on your description of its current state, but it seems that your tank has the right conditions for its survival.  Good luck fattening this guy/gal up.> <Chris>

Great Dragonet Feeding-Tip - 12/04/06 I've received tons of help from this site and just wanted to share something real quick. <<Okey-Dokey>> I was worried about a scooter blenny in a 30-gallon with no sump and/or refugium to cultivate pods. <<Wise to be concerned>> After trying everything I could from wiggle sticks, live shrimp, turkey basters, etc. to try and get him to eat I finally got something to work. <<Yay!>> I have a patch of hair algae that the blenny loves to pick at so I just squirted the frozen Mysis shrimp into the patch and just like that he now eats whatever frozen food I squirt in it. <<This was very intuitive of you.  These "patches" of alga generally harbor many species of small crustaceans and worms...just what the blenny hunts for food.  Placing the thawed frozen shrimp here was an excellent way to entice the blenny to feed!>> I'm just starting out and hopefully this helps others the way you folks have helped me. <<This is excellent advice to anyone attempting Synchiropus species>> Thanks, Paul <<And many thanks to you.  EricR>>

A Quick Thanks... Scooter Blenny eating   12/2/06 Dear Crew, <Hey Paul, JustinN with you tonight.> Thanks for the great advice my fish and myself have benefited greatly.  My tank houses various corals, fish, and invertebrates.  I was worried about my scooter blenny in a 30 gallon but have now gotten him to eat mysis shrimp thanks for the advice.   <Excellent to hear, too bad more of these dragonets don't have such success...> Now if I could only find the pistol shrimp I hear him but haven't seen him, oh well. <Try Google searching for pistol shrimp extraction methods, you will likely find some information of use here.> Thanks for the advice and the FAQ's as they have been the best source of info on the net. Paul <Thanks for the kind words, Paul. Always good to hear of continued success of our fellow hobbyists. -JustinN>

Mandarin sys., fdg.    11/28/06 Hello! <Hi there from another Michelle!> It's yet another question about green mandarin dragonets.  I know they need sufficient live rock for an ample supply of copepods, <This is true.>  but am unsure if mine is enough.  It's a 95 gallon with 90 pounds live rock.  <Seems ok in theory.>  Current fish are a Naso tang (we know she will eventually need a larger tank, <Yes, saw several in Hawaii that were "scary big".> yellow tang, and two Sebae clowns.   The tank has assorted corals, a peppermint shrimp, 2 sally light foot crabs, and 2 green crabs.  Is this enough live rock for one specimen?  <Many variables...how large is the current population of copepods, how prolific will they be in your system, is there a refugium connected to the tank,  individual variation with the individual fish....>  Could the green crabs eat the mandarin? <Yep.  I personally wouldn't trust any crab.>   How safe is skipping the quarantine procedure in light of the need for live rock?  <You could quarantine with live rock in a separate vessel, you may need to add pieces of LR throughout the QT period.>  Thanks!  <You're welcome.> Michele

Scooter Blenny - 11/09/06 Dear crew, <<Hello!>> I've read and read your site and all your FAQ's on the blenny.  My LFS (considered by most as the premier store in St. Louis) said a scooter blenny (Ocellated dragonet) would be fine and I trusted them. <<Mmm ok, Synchiropus ocellatus...one of best/maybe THE best choice of dragonets for captive keeping...still needs a mature, peaceful aquarium of adequate size with plenty of live rock/a DSB and preferably...an in-line refugium>> I asked them about the mandarin because it was a nice looking fish but they told me it was impossible with my setup and recommended the blenny. <<Synchiropus ocellatus is a dragonet and is of the same family (Callionymidae) as the "mandarin."  The "scooter blenny" is a much better choice than the mandarin (kudos to your LFS), but is still not "easily" kept>>>> They have been pretty honest with me and have even declined to sell me certain fish because they know my tank. <<Excellent to read!>> I have researched every fish and invertebrate and coral I own but went with their opinion on this one (went to the store to get R/O water came home with a fish). <<Hee-hee!>> Here are my stats: 30 gallon, PC 96 watt light, 0 Ammonia, 0 Nitrites, 10-20 ppm Nitrates, 8.3 pH, 8-10 dKH, 20 Calcium, <<...?!>> 300 Penguin Bio-Wheel power filter, Prizm Skimmer (I know bad choice), <<Mmm...an AquaC might be in your future>> 75 GPH flow head w/aerator, 40 lbs live rock, 1.023 salinity, <<Do bump this up to 1.025/026...especially with corals/inverts in the system>> 78 degrees One clam (T. crocea) 6" inches from surface about 8" from the lights, 3 peppermint shrimp (has not nipped anything), 2 fire shrimp, 1 skunk cleaner (no nips on anything), 3 green chromis 1", 1 yellow watchman goby 1", 4 Astrea, 8 turbo, various polyps, brain corals, xenia.  Allelopathic issues have not surfaced yet and everything seems to be growing and doing well. <<Hmm, wouldn't think Allelopathy to be much of an issue either with the corals you list>> My tank has amphipods because they are all over the rocks, glass, and everything else.  The snails have laid eggs all over the glass in a strange zigzag pattern.  Macro-algae is growing profusely and I've trimmed them back (a little overfeeding issue but I do 5-gallon changes every week with saltwater from the LFS).  Coralline algae is starting to cover everything.  He continually eats and has gotten bigger but after reading I know he will eventually starve. <<Likely true I'm afraid...this tank is really too small for the long-term health of this amusing little fish>> I am trying to train him to eat frozen mysis shrimp. <<Excellent...might I suggest you soak the thawed shrimp in Selcon or Vita-Chem for the added nutritional value as well as possibly increasing its attraction as a food item>> Now my question:  There is another store that sells live glass shrimp and live brine shrimp.  Can I add these to my tank and hope they breed and will the blenny eat the nauplii as a result? <<They won't establish and breed in you display...and the glass shrimp will be too large to be off use "as is"...but you might want to try getting some live brine shrimp and "gut-load" them before offering to the tank.  Add the Selcon product I mentioned to the water holding the brine shrimp and let them "feed" on this for 24 hours before releasing them in your tank.  This will provide the scooter blenny with the much needed HUFAs/fatty acids that are other wise absent in adult brine shrimp>> Should I give him back and not impulse buy again? <<This is another option>> He has been here for 5 weeks (1 week QT because I could not get him to eat) and there are still visible amphipods. <<Likely the ones that are "too big" for it to ingest.  These fish browse/feed constantly and even a single specimen can/will decimate the available food population very quickly in such a small tank>> I have left the big patches of stringy algae, which he guards profusely that seem to house the majority of these little bugs. <<Indeed>> I apologize for the length of my letter but you guys have saved my and many fish. <<No worries>> My yellow watchman loves mysis shrimp and actually has gotten his head stuck in the turkey baster going for them. <<Ha!>> Please advise and I will defer to your knowledge and experience. <<You have my opinions>> Paul <<Regards, EricR>>  

New Mandarin in quarantine - how to keep sustained until move to main tank?   11/6/06 First of, definitely would like to thank you all for a fantastic resource, and especially to Bob Fenner for his awesome book, The Conscientious Marine Aquarist.  I've had my 90 gallon reef tank with a corner overflow and 20 gallon sump set up for just over a year.  The CMA was instrumental in helping me get going and continuing to maintain my tank.  I'm just about to order "Reef Invertebrates vol 1" as well. <Thank you for your kind, encouraging words. Mean much> I picked up a healthy looking mandarin last night from my LFS.  It is currently in quarantine in my 12 gallon AquaPod.   He's nibbling (I think) at some algae on the glass, but it could be pods. <Yes... likely "aufwuchs"...> The AquaPod nano has live sand, a couple of small chunks of live rock and was nearly completely filled with water from my main tank over the past 2 weeks as I've done water changes (approx 10 gallons through water changes, 2 gallons of "fresh" but aged salt water).    I have a ball of Chaeto in the nano that was in my sump and some dragon's tongue macro algae as well. My main tank has a ton of copepods in the sump, overflow and throughout my ~120-150 lbs of live rock.   I believe the Chaeto ball had a small colony of pods in it prior to moving it into the nano. My main question is how to keep the mandarin alive/fed while in quarantine?   <Mmm... actually, I'd like to make a plug/push for your expediting this quarantine... Callionymids rarely harbor parasites, problems that such isolation improves> I'm hoping I can entice it to eat pellets or something other than live pods, <Not likely> but I also don't want to move it to my main tank too soon and risk my main tank with some kind of unknown LFS infestation.  I'm also thinking of adding some zooplankton/phytoplankton (dried and DTs) to the nano to help feed the pods. <Mmm, keep your eye on the apparent thinness of this specimen...> Additionally, as I do my next water change I'll take 5 gallons from my main display and add it to the nano.  Also, I was thinking of splitting the Chaeto ball in half, rinsing and adding one half to my main tank for a day or two and then swapping it out with the other one, rinse and repeat every 2-3 days. <Good idea> The Wet-web Media mandarin FAQs suggested that only 2 week quarantine period was needed for the mandarin. <Yes... this or even less> Any comments, suggestions or ideas? Thanks again, Steve <I would be bold and move this animal to your main/display system if it appears to have a "low index of fitness". Bob Fenner>  

Re: New Mandarin in quarantine - how to keep sustained until move to main tank?   5/8/06 Bob, honored to have your reply. <... welcome!> Unfortunately I wasn't able to put into action your recommendation to move the mandarin from quarantine to my display tank.  Sometime between 10pm last night and 6:30am this morning the mandarin disappeared without a trace. <Yikes... must have "jumped out" somehow> It is very strange as the nano/quarantine she was in was tightly enclosed, there wasn't much space to hide in - just a few pieces of PVC and some small golf-ball sized live rock - and there were really no other creatures that could have disposed of the body (just a small porcelain crab also in QT).  I tore the tank apart, including removing all the stuff from the chambers of the tank but there was nothing to be found.    <... somewhere...> Anyway I think I'm better prepared for the next attempt.  My quarantine/initial isolation checklist now includes: 1) Ensuring I have a wad of "sacrificial Chaeto" charged with a load of pods from my main tank 2) Ready access to live brine shrimp (low quality food is better than no food) 3) Adding a copepod starter if available: http://www.reed-mariculture.com/copepod/index.asp or http://oceanpods.com <Both good companies, people, with real products> 4) Ready access to blood worms - many folks reported that theirs would eat live blood worms <Yes> Alternatively to 2 & 3, am possibly thinking of having a supply of copepod culture ready.  Reference copepod culturing (about half-way down) http://www.advancedaquarist.com/issues/feb2003/breeder2.htm or http://www.reed-mariculture.com/copepod/ Thanks again. Ps - Made my first batch of food from the basic recipe in the CMA this weekend.  My tank LOVES it - I can't believe I didn't make it sooner. Regards, Steve <And what a bargain price-wise per unit unit! Cheers, Bob Fenner>

Mandarin Feeding 9/7/06 Hi again, <Hello> I have two (yes TWO) very healthy (fat and happy) mandarins in our 75G reef tank (tank over a year old). <Good to hear.>   They always have a healthy supply of live pods getting supplied from two refugiums. <The key to success with these finicky eaters.>  However, l have noticed them readily eating the frozen brine shrimp which get past the seahorses and make it to the bottom.   Is this just a "junk food" item for them. <Mostly>  I guess what I'm asking is, if I stopped culturing pods for them, would they remain healthy eating the enriched brines I feed to some of the other inhabitants? <Probably would not be enough to keep them healthy long term.  You have a successful setup currently, would stick with what is working so well.> Thanks James <Chris>

Culturing Pods for Mandarin Dragonet   7/28/06 Hi there,    I've a question regarding Mandarin Dragonets and the  feeding of this finicky fish.  I would like to add one to my 46 gallon  bowfront tank. It is a very mature tank.  I've currently got about 75  lbs of live rock in the tank and about 3 inches of live sand.   Right now  the tank is loaded with copepods and mysis shrimp.  I see them scurrying  around constantly.  I do have a small 6 line wrasse in the thank that will soon be moved to my 29 gallon reef tank.   I'll also be adding a 29 gallon  tank as a refugium to the bowfront. <Ahh, very good> In the refugium, I'll have  livesand, rubble rock and Chaeto.       I'd also like to set up a 10 gallon tank to  culture pods in.  I've got 2 different plans for doing this.  I'd like  your advice on both please.   #1 is to line the tank with quart mason jars that each contain some livesand, a little rubble rock and some Chaeto.  The water level will be  kept a few inches above the top of each jar.  I'll then seed the entire  tank with copepods and mysis shrimp.  I'll also have a small powerhead  going in the tank. <Mmm, an air-powered sponge filter would be better/best... the splice and dice action of the powerhead will reduce the small crustacean population> My thoughts are that as the pods and shrimp grow and  reproduce, I can remove a jar and pour the water off into the refugium or main  tank. I'd then return the jar to the 10 gallon to repopulate. <Mmm, we'll see... likely the jars will be too much trouble, and unnecessary> I've  heard that I may have a problem with evaporation and a rise in salinity using  this method.  I'm not sure how that would happen faster with the jars than  without.    #2 is to just use the 10 gallon with live sand, rubble rock and  Chaeto but without the jars.   <This would be my option...> I'm just not sure how I'd go about removing  the pods to feed to the fuge or main tank though. <"Tie" the ten in with the 29 refugium somehow...> One thing that's been  suggested to me is to take 4 to 6 sponges, get them wet with the tank water,  crush some flake food into them and place them in the tank.  Then as they  populate with pods, remove a sponge and put it in the fuge or main tank for a  few days and then replace into the culturing tank for repopulation.  With 4  to 6 sponges, I'd think that I could rotate them and keep a good supply of  pods.   <Worth trying> Do either of these plans sound reasonable? <This second much more than the first>   Also, in  plan 2, can you suggest any other means of removing pods from the culture tank  for feeding? <Vacuuming, mass water changes...> My last few questions concern the refugium.  My bow tank  is not drilled so I'll have to come up with some way to move water from the  display tank to the refugium and then back to the display tank.  Any  suggestions? <Posted: http://wetwebmedia.com/overfloboxfaqs.htm and the linked files above> Do I need to section the refugium off into different  compartments or can I just add lots of Chaeto and let it grow? <Can/could> I'll  also have lighting on this tank. <... good idea: http://wetwebmedia.com/refugltgfaqs.htm> I would also like to put my skimmer into  the refugium but am I better off leaving it on the display tank? <Mmm... not necessarily... though would situate in an anterior/first water arrangement I have a  Remora Skimmer with an overflow/pre-filter box.   Any advice you're able to  give would be greatly appreciated!!  Thanks.    Michael <Bob Fenner>

Wrong shipment. Mandarin health, nutrition   7/18/06 Hey crew, <Eric> I just received a wrong shipment from an online supplier.  I just wanted to get some snails for my 200 gallon tank.  I can never seem to find the quantity that I am looking for in the area.  Well the company sent me a whole bunch of fish instead.  (they are going to send my original order now)  I think I can care for the fish except for the Mandarin Dragonet since he is in my QT I really don't have a food source for him. <Very bad... I would consider moving, shortening the quarantine time for this fish... to move it to your main display system... for the food organisms likely there> I was wondering if I can just go down to the ocean and scoop out some pods and zooplankton and put those in the tank for him to eat? <Not really a good idea. Way too likely a chance of introducing undesirable organisms, pollution...> Is that a very good idea?  I have ordered some food for him online, but I think the order is going to take a few days to get here.  I don't think he is doing to well, and he wasn't very health to begin with. <Mmm, are tough animals really... If not really "very skinny" can/will hold off till the food arrives> Thanks for the help.  My reef tank is coming along great thanks to you guys. Eric V <Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/manddisfaqs.htm and consider foreshortening QT for this animal. Bob Fenner>

Live Food Culture/Mandarin Systems - 07/13/06 Dear Crew, <<Hello Paul>> I have two questions pertaining to culturing live food within the main reef aquarium: <<Okay>> (1) What live foods are practical for culture within the main tank? <<Depending on your setup/livestock, some organisms can/will reproduce (mysids, amphipods, copepods, various alga, etc.).  Maintaining sustainable populations is largely dependent upon allowing said populations to establish and grow without predation in the early stages (i.e. - leaving the tank "fishless" for the first 12 months), and then not overstocking the tank with active predators of these organisms>> I am looking for small invertebrates that can thrive and reproduce in a reef aquarium with Mandarin Dragonets or other fish that feed on them and do not require phytoplankton or special foods. <<The micro- and macro-crustaceans from your live rock would fit this description.  But you need a large and "mature" system to provide enough food items to wholly sustain even one mandarin for the long term.  Just how "large" a system is open to speculation, but my opinion is a minimum tank size of 75 gallons with plentiful live rock and a DSB, and all not less than a year old>> (2) What invertebrates can thrive within the same reef aquarium as a Mandarin Dragonet and are prolific enough such that their larvae can help feed the Mandarin? <<The afore mentioned copepods, mysids, and amphipods can all be "prolific enough" in a large enough system.  The key here is the size and maturity of the system.  The tank/environment has to be large enough that the mandarin can continuously feed as needed without depleting the food populations.  Something that usually happens very quickly in a too small system.  The addition of a "plankton" generating refugium can be a big help towards keeping these beautiful fishes (as well as other delicate or difficult organisms)...but in my opinion should be viewed as an adjunct to providing a proper environment...not a substitute for same>> Thanks very much, Paul. <<Quite welcome, EricR>>

Scooter Blenny... Callionymid Feeding    7/1/06 Hi super-knowledgeable fish folk, <Yikes!> I have come into possession of a scooter blenny, through various and sundry reasons, i.e. a doorstep adoption. <In a basket at the door?> My 30g SW tank is four months old, currently housing two percula clowns. I have some pods, but I can see the blenny quickly eating through them all. What can I do for additional foods? How easily trained is a blenny to eat frozen or dried foods? <Can be fed most anything live, meaty... and trained onto other foods> Please help, as there is no place else for my poor blenny to go (insert sad music here). Thanks, Doug <Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/mandfdgfaqs.htm "and the linked files above" Bob Fenner>

Mandarin Systems/Feeding   6/22/06 I have been doing some research online and everyone has different answers opinions, etc. I am going to have a 40 gallon reef tank, with the 24in Refugium you suggested to me by CPR. I want to know if you believe the mandarin goby will work in my 40 gallon reef? <Yes, with your refugium producing pods.> I've seen people online with them in their 7 gallon tank, 10 gallon, 20, gallon, then others in 100 gallon tanks. I've read only keep them with so much Live Rock etc. <Larger tanks are recommended (50 minimum) if live rock is going to be the only source of food for the mandarin, and then only one should be kept in this system. Smaller tanks work well with refugiums producing a healthy pod population.> I know the tank has to mature about 6 months. I am willing to buy copepods online if I need to. I don't know how long such a supply would last. <Best to add the pods in the refugium at least 30 days before introducing the mandarin. This way a healthy population will begin to develop.  The pods will slowly find their way into the display tank and populate the live rock also.> I just do not want this fish to starve if it is at all possible to keep them. I saw one individual online with a 40 gallon tank, 75 pounds of LR and Live Sand and a 13X4 Ref. He successfully kept his mandarin goby healthy for years with no problem. So If possible, could you tell me how to do this successfully, if it could be done at all? Doctors Foster and Smith say they suggest at least 30 Gallons, then Another website About.com said at least 20 gallon tank size. <Both these sizes can work, provided a pod producing refugium is in place.  These size tanks with just live rock as the only food source are not large enough.> I just don't know if these people are just trying to sell their fish or what. Can you please help? Thank you for your time. <Here is some reading for you along with the related FAQ's above title bar. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/mandarins.htm  James (Salty Dog)> Gina Re:  Mandarin Systems/Feeding  6/25/06 - Hi, <Hello Gina> Sorry about that. <OK> Thank you for writing me back. <You're welcome.> Do you think that refugium will be big enough to keep the mandarin healthy? Do I need a larger one? I have a 10 gallon tank and a 29 gallon tank not in use. I could possibly make those refs. If the CPR 24in will work though, I'd rather get it. <The CPR will be fine.  Do place some rubble rock in the refugium and stock with a starter culture of pods. Do follow the advice given below, in my reply to the original query.> Thank you for writing me back. <You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)> Where to Buy Copepods to Feed a Mandarin? - 06/19/06 I have a mandarin and can't find any copepods anywhere.  Sorry to bother you but can you suggest a website? Thanks Eli Ramos <<Indeed I can, try Reed Mariculture ( http://www.reed-mariculture.com/copepod/live.asp)...though I think you will find this to be an expensive proposition...and possibly futile in the end as these are difficult fish to keep, with most starving to death in the typical marine system in less than a year.  Best to keep these fishes in large mature systems with suitable substrates and plankton (copepod) generating refugiums.  Please do some reading on our site re these fishes and their care.  Start here and be sure to follow the indices in blue at the top of the page ( http://www.wetwebmedia.com/mandarins.htm).  EricR>>

Where to Buy Copepods to Feed a Mandarin? II - 06/19/06 Hello, <<Hello again Eli>> Sorry to bother you but I need help with my mandarin.  You see when I bought him the man at the pet store said that he fed him frozen brine. <<This is not a suitable food item for this fish...or most any fish, for that matter>> Now there was no live rock in the tank whatsoever so I thought ok because I knew I didn't have very many copepods if any in my tank so I bought him but he's not eating anything I'm offering. <<Wish you had done your research beforehand, these fish have a dismal survival rate...mostly due to starvation.  Best you can do is take this fish back to the store for a refund>> So, I was wondering if you could help me find a place or a website where I could buy some pods. <<Did once already today, but I'll give it to you again... http://www.reed-mariculture.com/copepod/live.asp...>> And let me just thank and congratulate all of you on this wonderful and helpful site. <<We do try.  EricR>> Thanks in advance, Eli Ramos

Copepod diet Callionymids   6/1/06 Hello wet web,     I'm trying to raise copepods in two 10 gallon tanks. I read that I can feed them finely chopped flake food. Does it have to be shred into a powder or will they just tear pieces off of  the larger bits? <Either will do... does rapidly "fall apart" in water> Also, can I raise enough copepods in the two 10 gallon tanks to feed one dragonet in a 100 gallon tank? <Mmm, if there's other life being supplied in the 100> If this does not work, what do you recommend that I feed the copepods? <Have some live rock, red and/or green macroalgae present> Do you happen to know approximately how many copepods a dragonet will eat in on day? <Mmm, don't... but you might take a read re this group of crustaceans... there is a huge variation in species size...> Do they need to be fed every day? <Mmm, generally yes. But a "fat one" can go a few days w/o direct feeding... Again, an uncrowded "reef condition" system should provide some auxiliary foodstuffs> The help is much appreciated      Mike <Bob Fenner>

Mandarin Dragonette/Feeding/Systems   5/25/06 I was planning to add one of these to my 30 gallon tank, with plenty of live rock.  so I have a couple of questions: -Will the Mandarin eat frozen Cyclop-Eeze? <Some may adapt to frozen foods but chances are slim.> -I have a bunch of little white 'snails' (I don't know what they are) that come out at night and graze on the algae on the glass.  Are these copepods? <Not if they have shells, otherwise they may be copes.> -Which type of mandarin is easier to care for? Any reply would be very much appreciated. <Do read here and linked files above.   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/mandarins.htm James (Salty Dog)>

Mandarins and Copepods    5/24/06 Hey guys and gals, I recently purchased two mandarin gobies (male and female) under the premise that I'd had my tank set up for 6 months with 260 lbs of live rock etc. I've seen a few amphipods (am I getting this the right way round? They're the larger ones, right?) <Generally, yes... many species of...> in the tank, but I want to keep a separate culture of copepods etc as a "back up" just in case the mandarins deplete the population too far... ... but here in the UK I can't find any copepod cultures! <Really? Try the listings in the back of Marine World Magazine...> I've regularly been using live phyto/zooplankton supplements for my corals, will this help? <Yes> Or is there another way I can start a copepod culture? <If you have a refugium (and even if not in these listed circumstances) you very well likely have such a population going... along with many other useful live food organisms...> Is it a simple case of adding a refugium and providing the right conditions for copepods? <Yes... especially a dearth of predators there> The mandarins had been at the LFS for the past few weeks (around a month) and still seem quite happy and round (i.e. fat!). I've seen them picking at the live rock a lot, does this mean they're actually feeding or is it impossible to tell? <If "fat" and picking about, very likely are feeding> Ugh, paranoia has set in, wondering if I've made the right decision getting these fish, despite having my tank set up for a while with a lot of live rock. My plans for a small refugium are finished, and it should be all set up by the end of the week. Any tips on what I should put in it if all I'm trying to encourage is copepod growth? <Mmm, posted on WWM... under Refugium... http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marsetupindex2.htm> The fish seem happy at the moment, and rarely stray from the one end of the tank where they hang around the live rock all day, is that a good sign? <Oh yes> Many thanks, Ross. <Welcome. Bob Fenner> Re: Mandarin follow up ... fdg.  5/18/06 Hello crew! You guys are great! <Hey there.  Thanks, glad we can be of help!> This isn't a question but for of a comment. I have a Mandarin (Puff) and like all Mandarin owners I am always worried if he has enough Pods in the tank to eat. Puff isn't one to eat anything frozen, just strictly pods until I read a comment on your site from another owner about Algae wafers. I was very skeptical but I bought some anyway and to my amazement he loves them! Granted I know that this is in no way a substitute for pods but it is a good snack for him and he is getting plump! It really seems to help! Thanks crew! <Well you're right, it isn't a nutritional substitute for 'pods, however it is a good supplemental feeding!  Good luck with that and enjoy!  Jen S.>

Mandarin/Feeding    4/25/06 Hello staff! thanks for maintaining a wonderful site for us! <You're welcome.> I purchased a green mandarin 2 days ago from my LFS. I have wanted one since I started an aquarium but never did because my tank is too small (36 gall). The reason I purchased him is because he was in a fish only tank with no pods or LR for him, and he has been there for at least 2 months( I'm a regular there). I didn't want to see him starve to death without a fight so I bought him ( it is a he)...did I do the right thing? <If his life continues, you did.> I do not know of anyone who has a bigger tank for him. <Your tank is large enough providing you are going to stock the pods for him.> I did buy 8 oz of pods that should be coming in the mail soon. can I maintain an environment for the poor guy? I hate seeing fish die simply out of ignorance.  <If pods are always available you should have no problems.  Consider a hang on refugium to serve as a breeding ground for the pods.  James (Salty Dog)>

Mandarin Hiding...and likely starving - 3/14/2006 We have a well established 44 gallon tank with a Mandarin(2.5 in), 2 clowns (1in) a Lawnmower (2 in) and a Long Horn Cow Fish (2 in, and yes we will be moving him to our new 162 gallon tank as soon as it is finished cycling). <<Your tank is far too small to house the Mandarin or the Lawnmower Blenny.  Both need larger systems to survive long-term.  In the case of the Mandarin, a large fishless refugium is also needed.  These guys eat an unearthly amount of 'pods.>> The mandarin eats frozen food as well as copepods and has been a very steady, healthy tank mate for 8 months. <<Frozen foods are not his proper diet.>> We did a water change, rearranged the rocks a little and removed a banded goby about a month ago.  Since then the Mandarin has been spending the majority of his time hiding under the coral, which he was never inclined to do in the past.  We have rearranged both tank mates and the rocks in the past without him reacting, so this is very confusing.  All chemicals look good, Ammonia 0, Nitrite 0, Nitrate 30, PH 8.2.  Any ideas why the sudden change of behavior? <<My guess in nutritional deficiency.>> Is this something we need to be concerned about? <<Yes.  Unfortunately most Mandarins meet a very untimely death in small tanks.>> Thanks.  Lisa M.   <<Glad to help. Lisa B.>> This is a very old question that we sent in, it was already answered. <<Very odd, as your message showed up in our inbox the day I replied.>> We moved the lawnmower and the cowfish to our larger tank almost six months ago. <<Good to hear.  I'm sure they are happy.>> The mandarin was not starving, in fact he continued to get fatter. We are well aware that they should eat pods, and he did even then, but we were thankful that he also would eat frozen foods and flakes. <<I'm sure you are also well aware, then, that these foods are nutritionally unfit to sustain a Mandarin through its full life-span.  I do wonder why you refer to him in the past-tense.>> This e-mail is very nearly a year late. Lisa <<Any message in the inbox will be replied to. I wonder what happened here...Lisa B.>>

Re: Treat Tank Bred Clown & Mandarin with Metronidazole?   03/07/06 Thanks for the quick reply.  I believe clown's pectoral fins were short at birth because they are frayed (look torn).  He is doing much better every day and now swims side by side with the other clown (a little slower still).  I think that story will turn out okay.    <Good to read, realize>   However, something is now wrong with my female Green Mandarin.  The pair has been eating happily in a QT with refugium for about 4 weeks.  The female has never been as active as the male, but seemed happy - hunting and pecking (she is bigger than him and while not really fat, was well rounded).  Saturday morning the light came on and she didn't get up as usual.  I checked the water parameters and the PH had dropped to 7.6 - 7.8 (ammonia, nitrite and nitrate all zero).  I panicked and decided to move them to the big tank in case it was the PH or in case the pod supply was getting low.  She let me scoop her out with no trouble (by hand).      <Good... this is what I would have done as well>   Both male and female are in the 180 gallon now.  The male seems fine, acting like a Mandarin.  The female stayed on the rock I put her on all Saturday.  Late in the afternoon, she made her way down the rocks to the sandbed.  She has stayed there on the sand for 2 days now - listless.  Her color looks good, no visible wounds, no signs of external parasites.  Her breathing is somewhat labored and she opens and closes her mouth constantly (with no food in it).  Yesterday, she did move around some - going to the edge of different rocks.  However, she just bumped into them (possibly by mistake) and didn't hunt.  I thought maybe she was having trouble seeing, but she moved her eyes when I moved a flashlight around this morning.  She won't eat and is now starting to get thin (hasn't eaten is at least 3 days - maybe 4, but I didn't watch her closely the last day before I moved her. I've tried shooting copepods and brine shrimp close to her and building a small pile of rocks from the refugium close to her.  It is like she just doesn't have any energy.      I could probably get her into a cup or trap with no trouble to move her back to QT. <I would not do this. I'd leave this fish where it is> I just don't know what to treat her for (and the water is of course more stable in the big tank).  Any advice appreciated! <If this system has a well-established refugium (with more ambient "live food" present, I might move the female to this... otherwise... Bob Fenner>
Re: Treat Tank Bred Clown & Mandarin with Metronidazole?   03/07/06
Hi Bob,   <Yo!>   The QT system has an ecosystem refugium that has been stocked with copepods twice over the last few years.  I don't know that it has more than the 180 with DSB and refugium, but she might have easier access in the ecosystem (if she will get interested at all in food).    <Mmmm>   Would it be less stressful for me to just pick her up once she is asleep (if she makes it that long)?    <Am at that cross-point here. If you feel this is better/best, I'd do it>   Very frustrating and sad!  We waited for two years to try to make sure we could meet the needs of a pair.  I didn't want to be one of the ones responsible for such a senseless death:-(    <Callionymids are one of the families of marine fishes that seem to "do well or not" almost in deference to what our efforts would dictate. I do hope yours rallies. Bob Fenner>   Thanks once again for replying so quickly!

Scooter Blenny - 03/05/06 Thank you for a wonderfully informative website! I have visited dozens of times over the last year. <<Glad you enjoy it.>> Quick question: I may have missed the answer when I searched the FAQ's, but as it relates to Scooter Blenny eating behavior, if my Scooter is pecking at the sand constantly, can I assume he is actually eating, or is this a foraging method that is just a behavioral response, and not necessarily picking up pods?  (I can't see any that's why I'm asking) <<A bit of both...is foraging/feeding behavior, but whether there is anything to actually "eat" depends on your system and the abundance of micro-crustaceans, shelled protozoa, etc., available to the dragonet.>> I've had my 40 gal tank up for over a year, and only have the Scooter and a pair of small clownfish. <<Understood, but this fish is an obligate feeder on the micro-fauna in your tank and can quickly decimate populations.>> Scooter is very small, and although the LFS said he would eat algae <<?>>, after I brought him home I read that he was a carnivore, so since my system was still establishing (I have the tank about 25% full w/live rock and I have lots of macro-algae plants not in refugium but actually growing in tank and some pulsing Xenia and mushroom coral and some snails/crabs...everyone/everything is doing well, no casualties except a featherduster that I think perhaps was in bad shape when I got him, since he perished rather quickly despite rotifer liquid sups). <<Whew...I'm out of breath after reading that last sentence <grin>.>> Anyway, I supplemented my Scooter with frozen brine shrimp in a net bag sunk to bottom, he likes that, but I'm curious if I can wean him to just eating the live stuff in the tank. <<It's not likely you have a large enough tank/enough rock for this.  If the fish will eat frozen foods, try to feed it some frozen Mysis shrimp and frozen glass worms.  The brine shrimp is really very lacking in nutritional quality.>> I see evidence of small white cylindrical growths on the side of my tank...tiny, about size of dull pencil tip.  What are these, do they provide food? <<Tiny Serpulid worms.>> Never saw him peck at them, always pecking at the sand.  His stomach, while not emaciated, is not plump either....so I can keep supplementing him, but again, is he actually getting food when he takes a mouthful of sand?   <<Probably not always.>> MANY THANKS!   Sue <<Regards, EricR>> PS I will be launching a 150 gallon tank this Spring. I am so excited I'm almost obsessed!   <<Heee!  Is always exciting to go bigger!  EricR>>

Mandarin Ich vs. Fungus, feeding  - 02/16/2006 I just got a mandarin last week who appears to have some kind of disease.  I have been using your site a lot lately, it's very helpful. As a paralegal I can easily research and usually get my answer, <A good skill to have> but I am confused in what I have read in FAQs re diseases. It indicates that mandarins typically don't get ich or bacteria related diseases, <Mmm, no... generally just die ahead of these> but when someone stated something like this, they were corrected by your site.  I don't know what my guy has... its a large white circle (hollow in middle, like a gun target ring) and appears to be growing on his back right side (can't send a pic) and appears to by filament or tissue like, in other words it's not embedded in his skin, but is hanging on to it). <Sounds bacterial... likely from a physical trauma originally (maybe a whack with a net)...> He appears to be eating copepods and swimming fine, but doesn't (and hasn't yet) touched the vitamin soaked Mysis, brine or Cyclop (all frozen) mixture that I use. <Often takes a while... sometimes never... to train onto non-live food> I love the idea of just building up their immune system with vitamins and not resorting to Qt <Mmm....> or chemical treatments, but how do I get him to eat vitamin soaked food? <Patience, practice...> The same exact time I got him I supplemented my tank with aqua-pods to be certain he had food which he appears to be eating frequently. Should I just wait and see or try a reef safe product for bacteria and/or fungus   <There is no such product... none that are safe are effective... wish someone in the law field would sue... perhaps a Class Action... some of the phony med. manufacturers in the interest... there are a few... as you will find> I have live sand and very successful fugi premium rock, <From Japan? Heee!> 1 watchman, 1 clown, one damsel, 1 peppermint shrimp, 5 snails and 7 hermits.   <I wouldn't "treat" this callionymid per se... but keep trying the bolstered foods... and making sure it's getting plenty of endogenous live. Bob Fenner>
Re: Mandarin Ich vs. Fungus... poss. Class Action for pet-fish types  - 02/20/06
Thanks for the reply. so far he still seems unaffected. Re: it's hard to get Mandarin to eat frozen, why can't he be like my goby who even ate flake the first day I got him????? <Why can't we enjoy dog food?> Is it their personality, genetic make up, hardiness... what makes one finicky fish eat over another (rhetorical question, but if you have an answer I am all ears) <Ahh, you're getting closer> By the way...it's funny that you mention class action as I am a class action project admin (third party) I can certainly steer anyone interested in that direction with some law firm names or pass info along to see if there is an interest in pursuing against one or many products. I would not have any conflict advocating such a cause.  The good thing about CA's is it does force the product off the market or improvements and/or forces manufacturer to put wording on the product (or on the websites selling it) stating there is no guarantee the product will work, even though some people may only get a $1 for their claim. I try to explain to my BF that you can't just buy things being promoted by several sites b/c they could have an interest in selling it, and that we have to be careful and research it first through sites such as this.  Your absolutely right, something needs to be done, but your site at least can help put a stop gap measure for those who are smart enough to seek your advise. The claimants would probably get a good return b/c of the cost of the fish/invert/corals lost.  I am sure there is a common tie in with some products having a direct result in the failure of a system or a loss of aquatic life which could be averaged and returned to the purchaser.   Thanks again.   <Welcome. Bob Fenner>
Re: Mandarin Ich vs. Fungus- Update & Its a baby____???? - 2/28/2006
To the mandarin's guardian angles: I followed your advise <Advice> and have been feeding him live vitamin soaked brine.. he loves them.. the white circle appears to be fading. As you suggested, he did, in fact got stuck to a fish net which my boyfriend informed me after I emailed you. In all seriousness, I am amazed at your exact diagnosis (how did you know he got stuck? crystal ball?).   <Long experience, inference> I see all the color back in that area again, with a only slight hint of a white ring left. You are so right about the hunting... he loves to follow the brine around the tank for a while before he will eat it. So all conditions obviously must be calm in the tank also (and they are) for him to feel comfortable enough to eat.  My mandarin is not at all shy and pretty much has the run of the tank (as he should).  I put vitamins right in with my live brine, feed them a little flake and they last about 2-3 days.  However I realize this is not enough... I have been and will continue to supplement cops/amphs bi-weekly (with a variety of species) but also want to cultivate them as I go along... I want to set up a little area in tank itself, what kind of (simple) food source do I use for my rock pile (where they can hide) that won't dissipate too quickly or contaminate water over time? <?> Also, since he is eating live brine now, any technique to transitioning him to frozen (if possible). <Posted on WWM... use the search tool, and please, your spelling/grammar checker...> Any reading references appreciated.  I also intend to cultivate live brine to supplement his and the others diet. I wasn't smart enough to get a "fat mandarin" and have a long way to go to get him healthy looking (his bone line is starting to disappear though). I pray that I can get him "out of the woods" overtime. The size and shape of the mandarin was the only lapse in my research, but unfortunately the most important (I wanted a small fish). After reading your site of course, I now know what to look for in future (if any). Furthermore, I have what appears to be a baby invert growing...it is a small perfectly symmetrical orange circle with little tentacles.. it moves around in one area on my coral...I have not moved onto inverts yet (not until I master the chemistry courses you need to go there, but that is my ultimate intentions).  Should I do anything for the little tike????   <... not at this point. W/o identification. Bob Fenner> Mandarin/Feeding   2/2/06 Hello, <Hello Todd> I am setting up a 55G FOWLR tank, with about 80Lbs of live rock. Do you think I would be able to keep a Green Mandarin in my   tank after it matures (say 6 months), without adding a refugium? <Yes.> Do you think that my tank would have a good enough population of copepods   without a refugium? <You will have to seed the tank with pods if they are not present, and you may have to supplement with pods.  www.premiumaquatics is a dealer for Ocean Pods.> If I really have to get a refugium what is your opinion of the CPR Aquafuge HOT refugium? <A nice unit.> I'm trying to keep this   simple. Thanks <You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)> Pricey Mandarin Care and Feeding Routine 12/2/2005 To the excellent staff: <Now that's the way to start off an email'¦.umm, I mean Hello.> We have a 55-gallon marine aquarium with approximately 70 lbs of live rock, one skimmer, a 1-inch crushed coral substrate, and a small CPR hang-on refugium (with a 3-inch sand bed). We have Chaetomorpha in the refugium and main tank that have been up and running for about one year. <Sounds good.> Approximately four months ago (and one month before I found your web site), we purchased a Mandarin Dragonet to complete our community tank of one royal Gramma, four Chromis, one dwarf angel, two peppermint shrimp, one neon goby, and some assorted snails and hermit crabs. <Mmm'¦as I see you have learned it was not the best choice for this tank.> A book I referenced indicated this was a peaceful community fish and easy to keep. <Really, possibly an outdated book?> Unfortunately, it did not indicate its diet was almost exclusively copepods and amphipods, and will likely refuse all other forms of food. <This is true.> Since learning of this fish's diet, we've been adding 1.5 bottles/month of copepods (the $25 variety purchased from www.oceanpods.com, as advertised on your website) to our tank, dumping the other half in the CPR refugium. Is this enough for the Mandarin, or should we add more? <Sounds okay though I surmise this is/will be 'mucho' pricey over time.> Would it be better for the Mandarin to add the live ocean plankton, amphipods, and Mysid shrimp from Sachs System Aquaculture www.aquaculturestore.com? <Variety is good in any fishes diet. So yes, I would change it up here and there as these foods are also acceptable.> Do water changes effect copepod populations? <Possibly in a very limited manor.> I usually stick the siphon into the crushed coral or around the live rocks. Should I take the water (about 10%/week) from the top of the tank? <No continue with your current practice of siphoning detritus.> I don't see a lot of white specs in the water when I shine a flashlight in there at night, though my beam may be too wide. I also find about one-half dozen amphipods when I clean the filter. <The latter is a sign of a good population.> As an aside, I often read (now that my wife found your site) that one should "soak" the fish's food in a vitamin supplement. This may seem silly, but what is the proper method of soaking fish food? <Well I'm sure everybody has their own individual method but this is what I do: 1.) Take frozen food out of freezer. 2.) Place food in cup. 3.) Fill cup with RODI or tank water for food to defrost in. 4.) Add nutritional supplement such as Selcon to the water to allow the frozen to soak it in as it defrosts. Usually let it sit for fifteen minutes though honestly I think it would be a lot better if I allowed the food to soak overnight in the refrigerator. 5.) Poor off most of the 'defrosting water' or rinse food in brine shrimp net with RODI water (I prefer the latter) 6.) Put food back in cup with clean RODI water 7.) Use turkey baster to administer food in waves to fish> We do not soak the flakes, used for the nightly feeding. In the morning, we take the frozen food (a different type for each day of the week), <Good variety is important.> some small, sinking pellets, and place them in 2 - 4 ounces of water from the aquarium. We add the vitamin supplement, let it stand for about 15-20 minutes, and slowly pour the resultant mix in the tank as the fish swim to the meal. <This is a fine method as well.> Thank you for all your help. You have a great website and staff, and I want to plug the Amazon honor system option http://s1.amazon.com/exec/varzea/pay/T3P5J4CVWEJER0/058-5312859-0878016. <<That url doesn't look right, will have to check later.  Marina>> <Thank you very much.> Sincerely yours, Steve <Adam J.> 

Scooter Blenny Thin, How to Fatten?  11/13/05 To whoever is kind enough to answer... <<For some reason that's me, Marina, today. I have extra time!>> Just got a beautiful Scooter Blenny. I am lucky enough to have her in a bow front which magnifies her a bit. <<Wondering how large, scooters are like dragonets, need copious "pods" of all sorts, best found in well-established LARGE systems.>> On close inspection we have noticed that the top most panel of her front dorsal is a sort of hologram just like on a credit card and reflects different colors depending on her angle to the lighting. I honestly never knew such a color existed in nature! <<It's not a color, it's a refraction of emitted light that the human eye perceives in a particular manner. Fish are neat.>> I have a spot of deep purple coralline algae and when put into our tank she changed the color of the area between eyes and mouth to reflect this deep purple color. What a chameleon! Gorgeous fish really if you take the time to really examine it! <<Indeed, many aquatic organisms still maintain this ability.>> She came in thin from the pet store who said they were feeding them frozen/defrosted Mysis. <<Rather lackluster diet.>> Obviously although it may have helped to sustain it has not done a good job. What other foods would help her? <<"Pods" - copepods, isopods, arthropods, tiny creatures that are easily and well-cultured as mentioned above, best brought about in good variety with good quality live rock, and a refugium is exceedingly helpful as well in this regard.>> Mysis seems a bit large for my small specimen to be able to eat. <<Maybe not so much large as not nutritionally complete.>> Best recommendations here please. <<As above, and much else posted on site, found via Google bar on the home page.>> We are pretty much overrun with isopods in my tank and I have been told she will eat these. <<Indeed, and more.>> I also have algae growing in my fine substrate. It looks as if there are several strands that come from a central root so to speak (although I know it doesn't quite work that way). Anyway the overall effect is that it looks like I have a lawn in there...will she likely be interested in any of that? <<Not in the algae itself, but in what it provides - grass for the cows and rabbits, so to speak.>> I feel that we have a lot for her to eat for now but I would like to be prepared just in case. She is constantly foraging all over the tank. I guess my question is what is normal behavior? <<Constant foraging.>> Does her constant foraging indicate that she is in good health and doing what these blennies do normally or does it mean that she can't find enough food and thus never takes a break? <<They need to forage constantly, as their food does not usually occur in neat packets. As long as you "pod" population does not decrease, and assuming your system is sufficiently large (on the order of 75 gallons +), and even better if you have a 'fuge, then I'd say she's got a good chance at fattening up now.>> One last question... <<Oh.. alright.>> I have two small hermits in with her who appear to be terrified of her. <<Seriously?>> Do Scooter Blennies predate on hermits or are the hermits just being paranoid? <<I honestly have no idea, I've never known or seen "hermit fear". But, I wouldn't expect Princess Tinymouth to be able to predate on the hermits.>> Oops one more question: I have strand things all over my glass waving in the current. I have assumed they are some sort of worm. Any chance the Blenny would go after them even though they are bottom feeders? <<No, no.. the scooters are NOT "bottom-feeders", their feeding is associated with the "benthos" (yes, sea floor, but not necessarily meaning "bottom"). Yes, there's a good chance, but if she finds what's in the live rock (woops, did you mention having live rock?) more appealing then that's what she's going to eat.>> If she won't what would be good to take care of the issue? Getting hard to see the fish!!! <<Cleaning the viewing panels would be my preference.>> Thank you very much for any help here. We are really enjoying our reef adventure! Your site has been an invaluable resource for us as we got started. Thank you very much! May all your creatures live long and happy lives! Michele <<Michele (my youngest sister's name), you don't mention really anything else about this set-up, so it would be impossible for any of us to say whether or not your new fish will be able to expect a long and happy life. Start here: Mandarins, Dragonets & Scooters - Googled results.

Another Sad Mandarin Story'¦ 10/7/05 Hi! I need quick help. <Ok, I'll do my best.> I have a 30 gallon nano cube with approx. 15 lbs. of live rock, live sand, many snails and hermits, emerald crab, 2 clowns and a fire fish.... And then my poor goby.  <Uh-oh, I see where this is going.>  We have had our tank for about 6 months. After about 3 months we had a huge outbreak of copepods. They were almost completely covering the glass. After mentioning this to my LFS he suggested a mandarin goby.  <Ack, horrible advice.> (Our clowns just were not able to control the amount of copepods).  This is where my obvious problem begins.  <Yes.>  The goby wiped out the copepods to the point where we do not notice them at all anymore (only the larger pods can be seen at night in the sand). Goby has lost a severe amount of weight and you can see the line across his back. It has been this way for quite some time now.  <Sorry to say I'm not surprised.>  After realizing that he really is starving and after reading your sight I am panicking. I now know that I should not have ever purchased goby as our tank is just too small.  <Yes.>  I just purchased a 2-liter amount of copepods online to try and save him.  <He'll be done with these within a week or two.> My question is this: Do I even have a chance at saving him?  <Not if you leave him in his current tank.>  I have read that I can start "growing" copepods in a small tank and this seems fairly easy and I am willing to do it but I don't know if this will give him a fair chance.  <Yes do look into refugiums, but these take months to get established. Unfortunately due to the size of your tank, this refugium would have to be very large and its unlikely it would be ready in time. Mandarins should only be placed into tanks that have hundreds of pounds of live rock that have been allowed to mature for at least one year. Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/mandfaqs.htm .>  What would you suggest?  <Well now you know your tank won't be able to support a Mandarin. The only thing you can do is find another Aquarist with an appropriate set-up, I understand this may be difficult to impossible as the needs of this fish are specific. Sad to say the only other option is humanely euthanize through freezing or clove oil.>   Thanks so much.  <Sorry I could not deliver better news.>  I have learned my lesson in buying a fish without researching it and learned not to believe everything the LFS says.  <Yes in the future research livestock before purchase, Adam J.> 

Another Mandarin Death and More Lack of Research.  10/5/05 In my 55 gallon tank I had a mandarin who is now dead. <I'm sorry to say that this is not the least surprising.  Most Mandarins are put into inappropriate confines with inappropriate tank mates.  These fish require large tanks 100 gallons plus, with loads of well established liverock and large fishless refugiums.  They also require the absence of other 'pod' eating fish such as other dragonets, gobies and wrasses. In the future please research fish before purchase. In doing so you would have quickly known the Mandarin was an inappropriate buy. Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/mandarins.htm .> There is around 100   pounds of live rock in my tank and I would only see him once a day. He was very small, but I didn't see him being picked on at all but when I found him wedged between two rocks he had shredded fins. The other fish are 2 clowns who don't leave the top right of the tank, a bullet goby <This specimen was in direct competition for food with your Mandarin, likely a factor in its demise.> , cleaner shrimp, and a yellow tang <This fish will quickly outgrow its current tank.>. I didn't notice any aggression between him and any other fish. <Chances are there was no aggression, he simply starved.> He couldn't  have been dead for more than a day because I just added a protein skimmer last  night <You have a heavy bio-load and you just added a skimmer, I am guessing the water quality is below pristine? This could be another cause/factor in death.>The tang (the only one who I think might have hurt him) is scared of  everything and when you walk within 5 feet of the tank he swims away. I also  just added an anemone <Another poor choice in tank-mate for a Mandarin and also another sensitive animal. If you don't already know you need to identify the species so that you can provide proper care: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/inverts/cnidaria/anthozoa/anemones.htm .> but I don't think he ever saw it being that its at the top. <In the future please research the needs and compatibility of the animals you wish to keep before purchase, Adam J.>

Mandarin Feeding 09-26-2005 Not so much a question as a suggestion to those trying to keep a Mandarin. I purchased a Mandarin aware that it would be hard to feed, but ended up with something I didn't expect. The fish was going into a 4 month old 30 gallon reef setup with hermit crabs and turbo snails an ocellaris clown, firefish and a peppermint shrimp. I had a separate 10 gallon tank with liverock, and a sponge filter which I added a copepod culture from Sachs Aquaculture before I bought the fish and it has been thriving. I also wanted to find other feeding alternatives in case the culture crashed or I couldn't produce enough pods for him. Well after reading your site I tried fish roe (didn't see the Mandarin eat any) live blackworms (would eat a few but they died quickly in the salt water and he lost interest) as well as freeze dried ocean plankton (again uninterested) and brine shrimp which he would eat but concerned me for the lack of nutrition provided. I had a hermit crab die a few days after I had introduced the Mandarin and thought that maybe I wasn't feeding them enough and so dropped in half of a Hikari Algae Wafer. To my incredible surprise the Mandarin seems to love these things (the main ingredient of which is fish meal despite the name of algae wafer).  The Mandarin will spend hours pecking at the half wafer and is even getting a little fat recently! Just thought I would share my experience- I have only had my Mandarin "David Carradine" for about 2 months, but he seems to be doing great- I hope he continues to do well as he is a truly beautiful and fun fish to watch. <Very nice suggestion.  I had a mandarin that would eat anything I threw in the tank.  He was very fat and happy :) Best of luck!! Best wishes and thanks for the great website! Darion

Scooter Nutrition 9/17/05 Hey guys, <Joe> Well I got my shipment of fish from LiveAquaria.com and there are amazing. I ordered a flame angel, small hippo tang, scooter blenny and small six-line wrasse. My tank is 55 gallon with 45lbs of Fiji and deep sand bed along with 2 Percs and 1 Sebae clown and anemone. I can't get my blenny to eat anything except live brine shrimp. I know it isn't good to keep feeding him this stuff but how can I enhance his diet with something more nutritious? <Is likely consuming other... live rock, substrate derived organisms> I noticed his stomach was pretty sunken in when I looked a couple days after I put him in. So I ran to get brine and he ate it. I put frozen Mysis in there and doesn't touch it. Can I use a vitamin supplement with the brine because he can't stop eating it...I can see a smile on his face when I put it in. Let me know. <Can use such supplementation> PS. I can't believe how much a six-lines stomach poofs out after chowing down so much. My hippo is stuffing his belly too. <Oh yes... like me and pizza!> Thanks Joe <Please read here re "scooter" nutrition: http://wetwebmedia.com/mandfdgfaqs.htm and the Nutr. FAQs 2 file linked above. Bob Fenner> This Is No Place For A Mandarin - 09/04/05 In my 55 gallon tank a have just added a mandarin goby, there are only 4 other fish in the tank. <<Regardless of the other tank occupants, this tank is too small to support/supply sufficient food for a Mandarin.>> He doesn't eat the Mysis shrimp and I'm not sure if that's because he's new or he doesn't like the food. <<Likely neither...though some can be conditioned to take Mysis shrimp, their preferred prey are much smaller (copepods, other micro-crustaceans).  Thus the need for a large and MATURE sand bed with lots of live rock.>> Also I only have one piece of 5 pound live rock so I was interested in buying more, how much should I get to make sure the mandarin has enough food from the rock. <<Won't make any difference my friend, this fish is doomed in this system.  Please do consider returning the Mandarin for possible trade or store credit.  Regards, EricR>> Rotating Refugia?  9/2/05 Hello to all, <Hi there! Scott F. here today!> First, I would like to thank all of you for your noble efforts here,the wealth of knowledge is truly awe inspiring (and money saving). <Thanks for the kudos! We're happy to be hear for our fellow hobbyists> Now, I must admit that I've "got it bad" for difficult fishes, Mandarins and Seahorses, really.  I've not made any purchases as I know that I'm not capable of them yet. <Commendable restraint on your part, for sure!> My question today has to do with the Mandarins, more specifically, keeping them fed.  I've heard many accounts of their ability to decimate pod populations even in tanks with refugiums and I would be remiss to ignore them.  I doubt my idea is original, so I would like your opinions here please.  I would like to set up a three 'fuge, two sump system for food culturing. All of the 'fuges would be for pod generation but only one would feed the tank at a time, leaving the other two growing.  My rationale for this is from crop rotation, really.  If one feeds, and two grow in say two or three month intervals, then it should give each 'fuge a six month growth period before it had to feed the tank.  I know it would take some creative plumbing but that's part of the fun right? <It would- and it can be pretty fun to play with, if you're into the whole plumbing thing!> I hope this made sense enough to you all (and that I don't sound like an idiot).  So am I way off base here or headed for an extravagant failure?  I'm not afraid of complexity but if it's not more effective than a single large refugium then I'd rather forget it. Any experience with this?  Please send your response to my personal email XXXX@hotmail.com, not really sure where it would go otherwise. Thank you for your time. Josh <Well, Josh- your idea is actually pretty cool! I suppose you could also use separate refugia to cultivate different species of mysids as well.. perhaps, just isolating mysids in one 'fuge, amphipods in another, etc. Interesting. Of course, there will be a lot of plumbing realities, but it certainly is a cool idea, conceptually! I'd go for it! In fact- go for it- then write about it and submit it to Adam and I for possible publication in Conscientious Aquarist online magazine, right here on the WWM site! Good luck! Regards, Scott F.>

Mandarin Mystery - 08/16/2005 Thanks for your advise in past. <Glad we could be of service.> I have a new dilemma. I purchased recently a mandarin goby, he is beautiful. I made sure that it eats newly hatched brine shrimp before we left the store.   <This may very well not be enough nourishment....  they cannot survive on baby brine alone.  Please see here:  http://www.wetwebmedia.com/mandarins.htm and also the links, in blue, at the top of that page.> First days were fine. Now here is the mystery --- my two cleaner ('skunk') shrimps died 3 days after introducing mandarin. <Possibly/probably coincidence....  I doubt the introduction of the mandarin had anything directly to do with these deaths.> They were in very good condition before and breeding like crazy. My all water parameters are fine (0ammonia, 0nitrates, pH 8, <A touch low on pH, not dreadful though> tank is 4 years old with deep sand bed and live rock), <What of alkalinity?  Calcium?  Possibly iodine?> I didn't change salinity or anything else. Now the mandarin acting strange too --- it breathes heavily and refuses to eat, prefers to stay in one corner and is not active as before. <My first guess is malnutrition.  These animals require copious amounts of live foods to forage upon....  You do not mention your tank size, or the amount of live rock in, so this is my best guess.> Besides 2 cleaners I also had 2 blue devil damsels (they get along fine and did not bother mandarin). What is going on? what I can do to save my mandarin? What happened to my shrimps? <Again, likely coincidence....  The shrimp may have died of a lack of iodine or calcium.> (are mandarins poisonous?) <To my understanding, mandarins are neither toxic nor poisonous.> Thank you.  -Veronica <Do please go over that article, and those links....  Wishing you well,  -Sabrina

Housing Finicky Feeders Together (Mandarins and Pipefish) Good Morning Crew, <Hi there! Scott F. here today!> I have a quick question if you don't mind. I would like to know if it would  be possible to keep 2 Mandarins (1 male & 1 female) & 2 Banded Pipefish  in a 20 gallon reef tank (lots of live sand/live rock, small in-tank refugium), providing I add live copepods on a regular basis. If this is a possibility,  how  often should I replenish their food supply? (the live copepods arrive in   quantities of 2,000) <If you are up to the challenge of feeding them (and it sounds like you are), and husbandry is up to par, it seems like this could work! Just pay extra special attention to water quality in this small tank. On the other hand, a smaller area puts the fish closer to their food, so it could be a win-win situation. I would not add any more fishes after this, however.> I also have 2 10 gallon & 1 29 gallon tank that I can use to culture  copepods in. <Go for it!> Thank you in advance for your reply, Julie <Best of luck to you, Julie! Regards, Scott F.>

Mandarin feeding 3/8/05 I am planning to have a mandarin after 6/12 months of maturation of the tank. <this may not be enough time unless you have a very large refugium (fishless) with mud or very fine sand that has been inoculated with copepods> Should I try to exclude mini brittle-stars from my system to avoid having them compete for food with the mandarin? <no worries here> Are the mini-stars likely to deplete that footstock? <nope> Other species of micro-fauna to be avoided for the well being of the mandarin? Many thanks!  Regards, Dominique Capelle <do read the article in the last issue (not current) of conscientious aquarist (our online free e-zine). There is an article there about copepods. Do consider culturing them for best success with mandarins. Anthony>

Synchiropus splendidus 3/8/05 Hi: First I would like to say your website is my bible for fish keeping, glad I found it.  <Glad to hear!> I'm relatively new with the saltwater stuff... I have a quick question, I was thinking of acquiring a Synchiropus splendidus Mandarinfish. My current set up is a 55 gallon FOWLR, running now for about five months and with some initial stress the water seems to be holding at normal parameter.  My current fishies are: 1 coral Beauty, 2 clown Percs. I have been thinking of adding a Synchiropus splendidus (the pretty one, multicoloured), now my questions are: 1) Will my current setup handle the addition of this fish?  <From a bioload standpoint, yes. However, it is doubtful that your tank will provide enough food, read on...> 2) How hard are they to feed? I believe they do well in "well established aquariums", feeding off small critters, but where my tank is relatively new will they survive? Thanks for any input you can provide. Matt  <Mandarins require a large supply of live crustacean prey to thrive. Even those that accept non-live foods are likely to suffer from nutritional deficiencies. Even the most well established 55 gallon tank would be marginal to support a mandarin. If you really have your heart set on a mandarin, adding a fishless refugium will help, but will take time to establish. Best Regards. AdamC.>

Finally some good news about an LFS Thought I would pass this on. Was in my LFS yesterday and saw three very large mandarin gobies (over 6"). Because they are in maybe 60 gallon breeder tanks with some mushroom polyps and a 4" DSB (but no real copepod food source since it's a centralized filtration system), I wanted to know if my generally very responsible LFS was being dumb. I mean very dumb. These things were the biggest I've ever seen in an aquarium. I'm thinking they need to be in the 180 they have to feed them right, with a lot of LR.  So I asked the obvious question, how are you feeding these things and how can you sell them to people since no one without a massive tank and a very large refugium could feed these things? The girl laughed and said she asked the same thing when she came in and saw them in their shipping bags, but the distributor has been successfully converting mandarins to frozen Mysis and brine shrimp as well as very small pieces of various shrimp. That is how they got to be so big, they do not need to be fed copepods or to keep a colony up as they will eat.  Seeing my face she said she would show me, sure enough they went nuts over the frozen food as it broke up in the tank and ate till they were quite fat. She said they are not always successful at the distributor and the ones who do eat "frozens" are specially marked on their bags so they know which are ok to sell to most people - the ones that wont eat frozen foods don't get sold unless people actually can care for them (large tank refugium LR etc).  The distributor they deal with is trying to get as many of the gobies that normally only eat live food or a majority of it to switch over with great success. So here's hoping that in the future the death of these gobies wont happen due to starvation and stupidity as the industry gets smarter. Justin (Jager)

Anthony's Take on the Good News... With many challenging fishes, the erroneous belief is that they will not eat other foods (like with mandarins)... but the truth is that many/most can indeed adjust (even quickly) to eat other foods. The problem is actually a matter of dietary deficiency. 

Keeping Dragonets: It's All About Food! Hi, <Hey there! Scott F. here today!> I had a question about adding a Psychedelic Dragonet to my tank. It is a 72 gal. that's been setup for about 2 years, with a Remora Pro skimmer, HOB refugium, and about 80-90 lbs of live rock. <Sounds nice!> Inhabitants include a White-Faced Tang, a Lemonpeel Angel, and a Bird Wrasse. My main concern is the bird wrasse, but he is actually a very friendly fish. <But a large fish nonetheless! He will really need larger quarters at some point in the not-too-distant future. Do consider this.> He even leaves my snails alone. Do you think that this wrasse would try and attack the dragonet? <Hard to say. Fish, like people, are individuals. These guys can be rough...> I have been trying to look around my tank to see if there are any little bugs for him to eat, but I can never seem to find any. Should I be able to see copepods? Should I order some online if I ever plan on getting one of these fish? I thank you for your assistance. <I'm glad that you are doing the research before purchasing the fish! That's the mark of a good hobbyist! If you ask me, these fishes really need to be kept in a more dedicated system; one with smaller, less active fishes and a lot of foraging. Yes, a large quantity of natural prey items (copepods, etc.) is pretty much a prerequisite for keeping these guys. A thriving refugium such as yours is a big plus, as it will provide a continuous supply of natural foods. If it were me, I would set up a dedicated tank for these fishes, as they are visually arresting and interesting enough to warrant a species tank. I'd let the system run for months before placing fish in there, "seeding" it with large numbers of "'pods" prior to adding the fish. This will assure a "jump" in the population of the desired food animals before the fishes are added, maximizing your chances for success....Food is everything for these fishes, as is the opportunity for them to forage peacefully. Sure, they can be kept in properly managed community systems, but a species tank is really the best way, IMO. Read up more on cultivating copepods in Adelaide Rhodes' fine article in the January/February "Conscientious Aquarist" right here on the WWM site. This will give you some basic information on the cultivation and identification of these vital food sources for your Dragonets. Good luck with your efforts! Regards, Scott F.> 

Feeding dragonets/scooter blennies; just what do they eat? 8/2/05 Hello Bob. <James> I originally thought these were not like mandarins (teach me not to be more thorough!) and unfortunately I have learned a lesson at the expense of living things. Okay, I have tried, mysis shrimp, brine shrimp, flake food, ground up bits of krill, and whatever is in the tank on the live rock that they pick on. What confounds me is the lack of response to feeding in general. The LFS made it sound like these were no big deal to take care of and it seemed a decent set of first fish in that they are less aggressive and stir up the sand bed. I use a turkey baster and attempt to target feed but the response is minimal. The larger one died today/last night and was in the process of being food for the brittle star (now caught in a humane trap to be taken to the LFS). Ah yes, the black crab will soon follow if I have my way'¦ and I will! <Heeee! The/an improved western ethic> The smaller one 'seemed to eat' the brine shrimp today and I put in far more than usual and shut both the P skimmer and filter for about 20 minutes to allow the fish time to, hopefully, eat. He did stay in the general area where I deposited most of the food and seemed to work the sand and rock for quite some time. What do these adorable little things actually eat? <Mmm, in the wild, a mix of infaunal worms, crustaceans mainly... some fish larvae...> I made a trip to yet another LFS where I watched their scooters eat a combo of bloodworms and mysis shrimp but I wonder what the normal/natural diet is actually composed of. I am getting some plankton from an LFS/distributor (providing it comes in) and I will try that. Though I like these little guys I don't see myself replacing them any time soon. I also am getting weary of 'trying' different foods they seem to have no interest in. They must be fed at the distributors, no? Mea Culpa, I have made several mistakes here which I will NOT forget. <A/the standard spiel is to have a good deal of live rock, and/or sand (from the LR mainly) that will provide sufficient material... additionally, alternatively a live sump, i.e. refugium is useful> I have a 55 gallon tank with about 65 pounds of LR that came from established tanks. I also got 10 pounds of GARF grunge from HYPERLINK " http://www.garf.org/"www.garf.org <This is just old live rock that's been pounded up a bit with a hammer...> but I imagine the two fish went through the majority of whatever they would eat that came with the rock thus far. It appears the larger one slowly has been starving in spite of trying the above mentioned foods. Oh, the corals that came with the rock appear to be some form of Hammer or Frogspawn and are doing very well. Your site, and a lot of searching, helped me narrow these down. Does your and Mr. Calfo's book on inverts have (the word escapes me) to look at/for when trying to identify/classify unknown species? <Some, somewhat> The only other inhabitants (in the tank) are a Foxface and the cleaner shrimp and I am considering adding the royal Gramma in after I remove the crab. There are many sponges, polyps and some mushrooms here and there and these all seem to be doing very well. Last point is the protein skimmer'¦ wow! I thought the water quality was really good'¦ and then I fired that thing up and saw what had come out of what I felt was well maintained and regularly changed water! I also picked up an RO from coral life to take care of the hardness/metal problems from our tap source. Thank you Bob. James Zimmer Garfield, NJ    <Ah, some relatives are visiting from abouts your town... here in HI. Bob Fenner>  

Re: Feeding dragonets/scooter blennies; just what do they eat? 8/3/05 Thank you for the reply Bob. I wish I were in HI again... still home hunting out here though and forgetting a great trip like that for the time being. <Do come out (really) in October... will be there for the month (on the Big Island), with other fish friends...> You know, I think where I got fooled or just fooled myself was in the 'common names' in this scooter problem. After all people say Mandarin Goby and I am very well aware of it being a dragonet but 'scooter blenny' and not enough of (hindsight) the right questions found these poor things in the present state. I will have to be more thorough and never skip an investigation step under the assumption that I know something that perhaps I do not. <Yes> I wish everything was labeled by their scientific names. Though it may be cumbersome to learn the taxonomic language it is definitely helpful when identifying the specimen/pet prospect as to what each one 'really is.' I think from here on in I will insist on knowing the exact species and not just a common name. Maybe then I will err less. Have fun out in HI!!! Thank you again so very much. James <Back in S. Cal. as of this AM. Cheers, BobF>

Starving Scooter Dragonet (6/7/05) Hello, <Hi. Steve Allen with you tonight.> I have a pair of "Scooter Red Blenny's" and two six-lined wrasses in my 75 gallon tank with about 90 lbs. of live rock. <Actually, the fish erroneously called a Scooter "Blenny" in stores is not a Blenny at all, it is a Dragonet. It is too bad that they are not called by there correct name, which might alert people to their potential problems. The survival of this fish in captivity is equally dismal as that of the Mandarin Dragonet.> I have been reading up and understand that my blenny are probably starving away. <Do they look emaciated?> Is there anything I can do short of getting rid of the blennies? <Maybe> I have a hang-on refugium that currently only has a sand bed, but I am thinking that no matter how I use it, the wrasses will still be out-eating the blennies. I plan on researching refugiums more and creating a live food factory out of it, but I realize that it will probably not be able to produce as much food (pods) as I need. I am really upset, now that I realize what I am doing to my blennies and would like to alleviate their suffering ASAP! Much Thanks, Eugene. <The Wrasses can be a problem, but it is possible for the refugium and the live rock to generate quite a few 'pods, perhaps enough for the Dragonets. Some LR rubble and a nice wad of Chaetomorpha in your 'fuge would go a long way toward this. If you buy a nice supply of 'pods online, you may succeed in keeping these Dragonets alive and well. It would be easier if you only had one. Keep an eye on them. If they are slimming, the only hope is to get the into a system with appropriate live food. In all probability your LFS does not have such a system. Good luck.>

Feeding a Mandarin Dragonet (6/7/05) Hi! <Howdy. Steve Allen with you today.> I started my 90 gal reef tank a month ago with 135lbs of Fiji premium LR. <Nice.> There is also a 25 gal net fuge and 4-5" fine aragonite DSB in both the display and fuge. I was planning to wait at least 6 months before buying a mandarin fish. <Good idea. Personally, the one thing I would change if I could do it over is to leave my tank completely fishless for 6 months to allow the life on the LR to truly establish itself and thrive.> Now I already notice that the system is populated by a tremendous amount of copepods. <Believe me, fish can make quick work of them.> I see them on the glass but I guess there is even more on LR. They are so small I think that's why you have the impression they're only on the glass and don't see them on LR. There is also a lot of amphipods, but no mysids so far. -Can mysids hitchhike on LR or is it uncommon? <Can, but you may want to buy and add some.> -Do mandarin fish eat mysids and amphipods as well or strictly copepods? <They eat all kinds of tiny crustaceans and such. The bigger they are the bigger the things they choose to eat.> -Why the advice of waiting 6 months to a year? <To allow the invertebrate population to thrive and stabilize.> Is it just a guideline? <It's not a law. ; )> If there is really plenty of pods after 1 month can I shorten the waiting time? <Patience is amply rewarded. Once things are well-established, you can add the Mandarin. Being as it is a timid fish, I would consider adding it as the first fish. Again, patience pays.> -Also here is the final list of tank mates. Would that be too hard food competition for the mandarin? 1 Clown Goby, Green (Gobiodon atrangulatus) 1 Ocellaris Clownfish - Tank Bred (Amphiprion ocellaris) 1 Firefish (Nemateleotris magnifica) 1 Yellow Tang - Hawaii (Zebrasoma flavescens) 1 Randall's Orange stripe prawn goby (Amblyeleotris randalli) <Nice, conservative list for a 90-gallon tank. I see no problems for your Mandarin in this mix. Yellow Tangs can be aggressive competitors, but not with the substrate-hugging Dragonets.> Thanks! Dominique <You're welcome. Good luck!>

Website pics of Mandarins, Disturbing Trends Hi Bob - <Adelaide> I wrote an article a few months back about pods, thank you for the opportunity. <Thank you> I have noticed an alarming trend among my customers - it seems that many are purchasing mandarins and then finding that they are starving to death after the fact because they did not have enough live rock or live food for them. <What's that line from the Talking Heads lifted from the I Ching? "Same as it ever was"> Since I would like to be more pro-active about this problem, I have decided to start an educational website about mandarins specifically, it will be called mandarinkeeper.com  <Outstanding> The site will discuss mandarins - where do they come from, what types are there, what do they eat, etc, etc. <Good> There will be a small forum for newbies to post questions on their care and feeding, I'm hoping to get some volunteer moderators for that part since I don't actually keep them myself. <I see> I am working with Jerry Irving from SCMAS on website design, and I am trying to get the best information possible. <He knows website design well> Jerry suggested that I touch base with you about pictures of the various types of mandarins, and fish often mistaken for mandarins. <There is indeed a bunch... mainly Callionymids, but quite a few gobiids at times> I saw in your book that you don't recommend keeping these fish without the right size tank, etc., and I agree. However, I have seen this as an increasing trend and recently heard that Dr.'s F&S are carrying them for $16 and recommending that they only need a 30g tank.  <Dismal> This is my small effort to combat the trend, or at least mitigate the damage. Some people may get discouraged and leave the hobby if their first experience is of a starving fish. I feel that the more information provided, the better, and having a candid forum will help that. <I salute you for your efforts> I also hope to have an adopt-a-fish forum for those people finding themselves in deep water and who are reluctant to take them back to the fish store.  So, if you could please direct me to some appropriate photos from your collection, or let me know about how to license their use, I would appreciate it. <You are welcome to use any/all of my content in this interest. Please see what is posted in my name (or actually lack of it) on WWM and WetWebFotos.com> I would gladly trade free advertising on the website for wetwebmedia.com as a supporter of this effort in exchange for use of some of the photos.  I am going to be very selective on the sponsors - they will mainly be used to cover the cost of website management.  <As are ours> Thanks for your input, and I would love to hear any suggestions you have for making this website an effective tool to assist newbies and pros alike. Regards, Adelaide Rhodes <I say... you go (woman)... Am glad to help in what ways I can/may.  Livestock conservation and appreciation is a resounding, central theme in all I/we do. Bob Fenner> 

Scooter Blenny Hello, I have a scooter blenny that is not eating. I have had him for a month and never ate a great deal but recently he's been hiding more and is getting thin. Water parameters are fine (ammonia 0, nitrate 10 and ph 8.2). Recently I added copper to a level of .1 to treat a slight ick problem with a coral beautiful tank). Could this be a problem? <Yes... likely so. These fish don't eat much other than small live foods... which need to be offered almost continuously to keep them full... As with a refugium, live sand, lots of live rock> I now have carbon in the filter to remove the copper. It is now about .05. Do you have any idea what the problem could be or any ideas to stimulate his appetite? Other info: 72 gallon FO, wet/dry, protein skimmer. I feed garlic and vitamin soaked food daily. Thanks for your help. Jerome <The vitamins are a good idea, do consider the refugium addition, removing the copper at the earliest time. Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/refugium.htm Bob Fenner>

Scooter Blenny- Picky Eater Suggestion Hi all first of all i want to say, i don't think my aquarium would have ever made it without you guys.<Thanks! Kind words> ..i was searching on the net trying to figure out how to get my scooter blenny to eat, I watched him for a wk if he ever ate i never saw him finally today i got a idea, i took a veggie clip and stuck frozen  food in it pushed it down toward the bottom so it almost touched the sandbed and he didn't even let me get my arm out of the aquarium...lol... he was hungry... he ate and ate, i think he is guarding the veggie clip ..lol..  so i thought this might help other people, and i am going to try this with other fish, thanks and once a again, this is the best website, <Glad to hear you are both using, and adding to it.  Good luck, Ryan>

Red Scooter Dragonet Feeding (5/13/05) Hi Everyone! Hope you don't mind my bothering you but I've got a situation here.  <Happy too try to help. Steve Allen with you tonight.>  I'm now the owner of a red dragonet that I believe is Synchiropus stellatus or ocellatus. He's still very small so I can't tell if he's gotten his adult coloring or not. Don't even say it! I didn't buy him. :) I got him from a well meaning friend who I haven't been able to train yet in the art of intelligent shopping. There's no way of returning him so I want to try my best to keep him healthy and happy. I have a 46gal bow-front aquarium that's been up and running for about 3 years now. In it I have a False Percula clown, two Scissor tail gobies, and a Cerulean Damselfish. I also have masses of mushrooms, two feather dusters, polyps and a flower anemone with a porcelain crab. Other inverts are two Blood shrimp, three Peppermints, snails and a brittlestar. I know I'm going to need a large amount of copepods. I'd like to know if I were to add a refugium to the back of the tank would I be able to harvest enough for him. What do you think? Do you have any other suggestions? And incase you're wondering I've already given my friend a talking to! LOL Eileen :)  <Hopefully your friend will know better from now on. I've had Synchiropus ocellatus thriving in my 80G tank for over a year now. I partly attribute this to the incredible production of amphipods in my CPR AquaFuge hang-on refugium. They flow out into the tank. My only beef is that it came with a Rio pump that died after a year, causing all of my algae to dry up and die. I replaced the Rio with a MaxiJet power head hooked up to the inlet with an elbow. So yes, I think this is a great idea. I'd suggest you get the biggest one that will fit, and put in some live rock and sand. It may get enough light from your tank light for that function. If you want to grow algae, get a separate light. Amphipods love to live in Chaetomorpha.> 

Frustrated by Some Opinions, How to Distinguish  Good from Well Meant LFSs? Hello Bob. <James> It seems I argue my points more and more of late. The latest barrage has been from a close friend. He insists more frequent water changes are bad. I am having reasonably good success thus far. Nice coralline algae is growing on my LR, the water is clear and the water parameters are not much different from when I first wrote you except that my nitrates are now lower in 20-30ppm range. <Mmm, "nothing succeeds like success"> It seems every time I go to a fish store I get some new great opinion. The best one came of late about sea salt mixes and that of course the one I use (instant ocean) is not the best and that they should be switched off. Another great one was the magical appearance of copepods (not sure if I spelled this right) after a year in tanks... pardon me for saying so but that sounds more like alchemy. Am I wrong? Does there not have to be some for of eggs or larvae in small quantity for a large sight distinguishable population of this food stock for mandarin fish (what do they actually eat?)... <These and a whole host of other small invertebrate life, larval forms...> ...later on in a tank's development? <Mainly folks feed exogenously... and/or have live sumps/refugiums> I am getting a 55 gallon tank this weekend and am very excited! The 5 mini-bow has been nice but I am looking forward to a large volume of water to keep my little friends in. <I'll bet> Sincerely, James Zimmer Garfield, NJ <Hang in there James... Believe your own eyes, evaluations... be critical (not negative, just discerning) re input from others... seek to understand underlying principles... sort the wheat from the chaff my friend and you will do fine. Bob Fenner>

Starving Mandarin (4/19/05) I have a 55 gallon reef tank with a clown fish, coral banded shrimp, brittle star fish, lawnmower blenny, and a mandarin.  <Interesting group. I applaud your conservative stocking--it will serve you well.>  I have had the mandarin for 13 months and I have just noticed that he looks very thin.  <Sadly, slow starvation is the fate of the vast majority of these beauties.>  Looks like he is always looking for food around the rocks and bottom  <that's the way they get their live food>  but it does not look like there is anything left for him to eat.  <A 55 gallon by itself can seldom sustain one of these.>  What can I do to introduce food back into the tank?  <Your best bet is a "'pod factory" refugium that constantly supplies fresh live microcrustaceans that are allowed to breed and thrive free of predation there before flowing into the tank. Alternatively, some folks farm 'pods in separate systems. Take a look at this thread on our chat forum: http://wetwebfotos.com/talk/thread.jsp?forum=2&thread=27952&tstart=0&trange=30.  You can also search WWM for a lot more about Mandarins and refugiums. Hope this helps, Steve Allen.> 

Mandarin Hi. I hope all is well with you tonight. I have this mandarin in a 90 gallon. I am just convinced this guy eats more than just copepods. <They definitely do> I am cultivating copepods in my 10 gallon refugium. There are hundreds and hundreds just covering the glass. I take a bunch of Chaeto (macroalgae) and rotate it in and out of the main aquarium. None of my fish really eat that stuff (the algae) so it is perfect for moving pods from fuge to main tank. He will pick at and pick at the algae and sometimes I actually see him eat the copepod....he gets so excited with the hunt.....but he is just still so skinny! I am getting frustrated. Those tiny little white crustaceans just don't seem to have enough to give him a nice rounded belly. I took the challenge in buying him, have spent lots of money on this guy that cost no more than 11.00, am catering to his needs and yet, I see that muscle on both his sides flexing and moving, he's so thin! He just must eat something else too! Amphipods? <If the species are about the right size, yes... and many worms, small mollusks, fish larvae... many live foods, and some individuals can be trained to take non-live. Another possible co-factor here: yours may have a substantial gut parasite fauna...> I do shut off all pumps and feed him frozen brine shrimp with extra vitamins and stuff plus I soak it in Selcon and he does eat that. I just never thought I'd say it but maybe it's true, they ALL should be left out of the hobby! Wishing I could give him more..... Renee' <Maybe try placing this fish directly in your refugium for a few weeks, months... there are many organisms that mainly live there (in the absence of predation) that have life stages that come out of the substrate... possibly affording more feeding opportunities. Bob Fenner>

Starving Scooter Dragonet (4/4/05) Great web site guys. I use it almost everyday.  <My pleasure to play a small part, Steve Allen.>  Well, my question is I have been having a really hard time getting my scooter blenny, "Indo-Pacific" to eat anything.  <Like the Mandarin Dragonet, the Scooter Dragonet (often erroneously called a blenny) is a very difficult fish to keep alive. Most will not eat other than live food, and thus starve in the average aquarium.>  Tried frozen "Marine Plankton", "Sweetwater Zooplankton", and many different dried goods like flake and pellets. I know they don't eat the dried stuff but it was forth the try. Oh, Mysis shrimp too. What else can I try?  <Something living. You may be able to get him to eat by getting some live brine shrimp down near him, as long as there are no competitor fish that rush down and eat them all. The long-term solution is a health population of amphipods.>  He/She is getting thin like you show on your site about Mandarins. Your input would be greatly appreciated.  <How long have you had this fish? How big is your tank? Do you have live rock? Do you have a refugium? Do you have access to a large supply of 'pods? It is going to be tough to save this fish at this point.> 

Starving Scooter Dragonet 2 (4/5/05) Thanks for getting back so soon.  <You're welcome.>  Tank is very limited in its 'pods. I have had the fish for a month. It is a mini reef 10.  <Too small for this fish.>  No refugium. No supply of live pods unless purchased online. 25 pounds of live rock with system set up for 3 1/2 years.  <Nice, but in this small space, you cannot sustain an adequate population, especially if there are other omnivorous/carnivorous fish in there.>  Will be adding brine shrimp in today if they hatch. Thanks for the input.  <It's worth a try and I hope it works, but I am pessimistic. If the scooter doesn't make it, I would strongly recommend against getting another. A small bottom-dwelling Goby that is known to take frozen and dry foods would be much better. Steve Allen> 

Mandarin food Hi James (salty dog) thank you for replying to my lighting questions. Will replace my SmartPaqs! One more thing. I had purchased a mandarin. Loaded the tank with copepods I bought. Am trying to culture copepods right now with phyto. While waiting, that mandarin is just so hungry so I bought some live brine and he gobbled down 20 or so....and now I am raising brine too. Is the mandarin getting enough nutrition with baby brine? He eats tons so I feed him three times a day this way. (Turning off the pumps and squirting near him with a pipette full of them). He's a stubborn bugger and likes to hunt down real things....forget frozen or flake! I read somewhere that mandarins are light eaters and I couldn't disagree more OR I have one with an eating disorder!  <Renee', if the mandarin is eating as you say, I would get some Selcon (Vitamin) and put a few drops in with live brine. I should explain more here. Put the amount of brine you are going to feed in a glass, then put about five drops of the Selcon in the glass and leave it sit for about 30 minutes. Of course the water in the glass will have to be saltwater. I'm guessing you are raising the pods in a refugium? If not, the refs are almost a necessity when keeping mandarins. The refs will supply a constant source of food (pods) for the fish. Mandarins in the wild are constantly hunting for food. They don't eat a lot at once, but plenty during the whole day. If you saw a mandarin in the wild and one coming out of the shipper, you would be amazed at the difference in body fullness. Here is an article worth reading on mandarins. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/mandarins.htm. Good luck. James (Salty Dog)>

Mandarin - Collar? Orange? No, fish Aloha WWM Crew, Much Mahalos for the awesome service you provide. I can't praise you guys enough for volunteering your time to help us out. <Glad to share> I realize that you DO NOT recommend keeping Mandarins (Synchiropus splendidus), but I feel like I need to rescue one from a LFS. The LFS has about 5 and they already look like they are starving. <Very... too common> I currently have a 120 gallon with roughly 100lbs of live rock. The tank has been up for close to two years. The inhabitants are a hippo tang, yellow tang, percula clown, and humu trigger. I have a 10 gallon HOT refugium with a DSB, live rock, and ogo (Gracilaria), which has been on the tank for about 6 months. Do you think the percula clown will out compete the Mandarin for the existing copepods? <Not to an extreme> I occasionally add Opae'ula (shrimp) for the tangs and trigger. They are about a centimeter in length. <Am familiar (have collected)... have a place mauka of Kailua on the Big Island> Will the Mandarin be able to eat these shrimp? <If/when it is bigger, yes> Last question - I have 10 gallon in my garage that has an inch of fine sand, Gracilaria, and a couple pieces of live rock. It only has an air stone and powerhead for circulation, and two 24-watt fluorescent lights. The Gracilaria is not dying, but not growing. It has been running for about 3 months. Do you think I could keep the mandarin in that tank during the quarantine period? Mahalo Nui Loa, Jeff <Should be fine... I would change your main tank water into this quarantine... should boost the Ogo growth... Bob Fenner>

Re: Mandarin Mahalo Nui Loa Bob, I truly appreciate your Kokua. I will let you know if I'm able to save one of the Mandarins. Jeff <Thank you my friend. Aloha, Bob Fenner> 

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