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Mandarin/Dragonet Feeding FAQs 1

Related FAQs: Mandarin Feeding 2, Psychedelic "Gobies"/Dragonets/Mandarins & their Relatives 1, Mandarins , Mandarins 3Mandarin Identification, Mandarin Behavior, Mandarin Systems, Mandarin Compatibility, Mandarin Selection, Mandarin Disease/HealthMandarin ReproductionCopepods,

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

Dactylopus dactylopus in Mabul, Malaysia.

Mandarin Issues, hlth.    12/7/12
Hey crew got another question for you guys. So I've got a 40 breeder with 80 pounds of live rock and 40 pounds of sand. I also have a 6 gallon H.O.B. Refugium with a ton of Chaeto, feather Caulerpa, and grape Caulerpa I mean this thing is packed I also but pods once a month online. Now here's the problem I have a male and female target mandarin pair the females extremely fat but the males really scrawny they used to spawn daily but that was when they were both fat. Now the male has been hanging around on the bottom I was thinking the female was keeping the from eating but they still hang out a lot I was thinking of taking him to the fish store where work and putting him and putting him in a coral flat. But I was thinking was that maybe it more than that like an internal parasite. Any tips or info?
<Could be both, either of the general "causes" you mention here... I would definitely take out about half the rock to make more room, and add a good deal of branching (e.g. Acroporid, Pocilloporid...) stony coral skeleton to provide more habitat and water volume. I might also try adding a combination Anthelminthic (see WWM re) and Metronidazole to foods they accept... and add Spectrum pellets to this mix (highly nutritious, palatable).>
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Mandarins in a 55... Mmmm, dis. & fdg. f's   1/5/10
Hi everybody! I just had a couple questions regarding dragonettes I was hoping you could answer.
<Will try>
First my tank stats: I have a 55 gallon tank with about 65-70 lbs live rock 100 lbs sand that is 10 months old and attached 29g fuge holding Chaeto and grape Caulerpa another 15 lbs live rock and about an inch of rubble I have a canister filter as a return (no media) and about 300gph flow through the tank. Now then my first mandarin was a spotted which took frozen and was fat and active for the 8 months I had it before it grew a lump on it's side
which looked like half a peanut under it's skin. It had the lump for a couple months and acted normally before one day it had trouble staying upright then disappeared the next day. Any idea what was wrong with it?
<Mmm, perhaps a tumour of some sort... but of what etiology? Perhaps it "jumped out" (any smiling cats about?)... Perhaps was eaten, decomposed... Perhaps it's still in there>
I hope to prevent this ever happening again. I found a replacement at a lfs this time a big red splendid mandarin who was fat and healthy, after introduction to my tank he went into the rocks and wasn't seen for a week (even now it's still extremely shy). Assuming he hadn't made it I found another healthy fat red splendid mandarin half the size of the first. When acclimating the first one, to my surprise, came out to check out the new arrival in the bag. So far the little one always backs off when approached but I heard two males will inevitably fight
<This is so... if there's not enough room, habitat. The size diff. here though... these are likely not both males. The large one female>
so I fear one of two things will happen, they will grow to the same size and fight possibly killing each other or the
larger one will starve and die in my system if I can't train it to eat frozen (the smaller eats frozen). So is there any possibility of peaceful and happy coexistence?
Other inhabitants include 1 neon goby, 1 yellow watchman, 1 Firefish, 1 hectors goby (does not eat prepared
food but still healthy and growing after 6 months), 3 captive bred hippocampus kuda, and the 2 mandarin along with all the hermits and snails and crabs. Also I have 1 pom pom crab but wanted to add a couple more, would their spawning provide food for the mandarins and hectors goby or just help the filter feeders?
<I'd stick with the one crab>
And lastly I'm looking for more macroalgaes to help provide breeding grounds for pods, I heard amphipods like Ulva, also suggested are maidens hair and Gracilaria, your thoughts would be appreciated, thanks!
<Providing food/s from outside is likely to be more productive. Do look into simple Copepod culture. Here:
for a start, jumping off point. Bob Fenner>

Mandarin Goby Lives. On/Mandarin/Feeding 10/29/09
Hi Saltwater Fish Experts,
<Hello Rick>
I have a 55 gallon saltwater tank with Penguin 350 filter, 50 lbs live sand, and 43 lbs live rock. I've got a True Percula Clown (2 1/2" and 3 years old), Blue Tang (3 1/2" and 2 1/2 years old), Royal Gramma (3" and at least 3 years old), and a Mandarin Goby (2 years old at least). Also, in the tank are a Coral Banded Shrimp (2 years), maybe 12 hermit crabs, and possibly a Emerald Crab (that I haven't seen since the day I added him 2 years ago,
<Not unusual, haven't saw mine since I put him in.>
but think he lives in one of the rocks).
I have read tons of horror stories on your website regarding the Mandarin Goby, and I'm wondering how mine is staying alive for so long? My interest in the tank comes and goes, and I can go months without even testing the water parameters (and they always comeback perfect anyway).
I used to be able to see many copepods on the rocks and tank glass, but haven't seen any for over a year and a half. I generally feed flake food one day and pellet food the next. I sprinkle Cyclops-eeze and daphnia in also for variety. My goby is very active and helicopters around the tank constantly looking for food, but I've never noticed him eating any of the stuff at feeding time.
I do hatch some brine shrimp about 1x per week, but will slack off and not do it for months sometimes. I haven't even used up the first little tube that I bought yet.
Any ideas why my little guy is still alive after 2 year, while other more dedicated are having trouble?
<Obviously the goby is eating something or it wouldn't be alive. You are one of the lucky few to have a Mandarin eating prepared foods.>
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>

Green Mandarin? Ok...That's Already A Bad Start - 01/23/2006 Hello, 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? <No less than a one year wait on a new tank. Not even if it were a Mandarin:) Have you at least tried to read on these fish!? Even with a 'fuge, this tank is too small!> <<As an amendment here, I mean that this tank will not produce enough to feed this fish, not that the tank is physically too small. Sorry if that was confusing. - Josh>> Do you think that my tank would have a good enough population of copepods without a refugium? <For how many days/weeks?> If I really have to get a refugium what is your opinion of the CPR Aquafuge HOT refugium? <Nowhere near what you need. Please don't buy this until you fully grasp the intensity of its required care. The major cause of their mortality in captivity is starvation you know. - Josh>

Teaching an old fish new tricks, training a Scooter to take non-live food Do you have any tips for teaching a scooter blenny to eat frozen Mysis? He has a reasonable number of pods in his tank (40 gallons with 50 lbs LR), and he eats Selcon-enriched baby brine shrimp and live white worms with great enthusiasm. <I'll bet! I would "practice" mixing in some percentage of the Mysis... grading up to 100% over time> I want to improve his diet, but he totally ignores non-live food. I turn off the pump and let the frozen Mysis float down to him, and he simply watches it come down, and refuses to try it. Any helpful hints would be greatly appreciated. Is there anything else nutritious that I could try, other than the Mysis? Thanks, Karolina <Not to worry... this fish will very likely learn to eagerly consume the Mysis. Bob Fenner>
Re: Teaching an old fish new tricks
Thanks Bob. I'll keep trying. I think if he'll just taste it he'll like it. The other inhabitants of the tank (anemone shrimps and a brittle star) go nuts as soon as they smell it. Karolina <I suspect you're right. Bob Fenner>

Mandarin Question Hi, I have a quick question. I have a mandarin in a 72 gallon FOWLR tank with others, but no one else that eats live food, per say. My question is this: What do you do if your mandarin gets too fat? I have a refugium that is not attached to the tank, and it is stocked with pods and such, because everyone says these fish starve to death so quickly, but I am afraid to take any pods out and put them in my main tank. If you turn the lights off in the main tank and then turn them on about 10 minutes later, there are thousands of pods everywhere, but, like cockroaches, as soon as the lights go on they scatter. So apparently the main tank is sufficiently stocked, but this fish is heading towards obesity. I know it's not good to overfeed the fish that you have control of their food, but what about the ones that you don't? My worry, is that this fish has doubled in size in about 4 months. He looks like a cow. Should I take him to Jenny Craig, or is he alright? Thanks again. >>>Congrats on your mandarin! Really, I wouldn't' worry. Most people have quite the opposite problem with this species. They will not "over eat", and you needn't worry about health concerns in this area. He sounds like a healthy specimen, good job! Jim<<<

Why is Cyanobacteria bad? I think that red looks nice. And Mandarin feeding Hello and thanks a lot for your help. I have 3 questions: <Okay> 1.-  I've read all your Cyanobacteria FAQs and I've read it's bad and that you must get rid of it, that it's a bacteria and not an algae, <Mmm, actually kind of both> and yet it does keep ammonia low and everything fine.  I'm a beginner and am trying to establish some Caulerpa and other "plant" in my tank, which means some of it dies and this red velvet appears (which I don't find offending), When I see the "leaf" fall and starts looking white, I take it away. I've read all the FAQs several times and don't get why is it bad? <These organisms are "bad" on two counts. Mainly their presence indicates unhealthful conditions for other types of life (invertebrates, fishes, algae...), but also BGA can/do produce toxic by-products that can mal-affect and limit the growth of other life. Folks don't need to panic and clean their tanks out completely, select a poison to try to limit, eliminate BGA if they see it, but should be aware as to possible root causes and seek to limit them... sort of like the mentality of turning a large ship with a small rudder> 2.-I started my tank 2 months ago, with collected saltwater and plants, live sand and live rock from my beach (yes I've read this is not the best) but I'm planning on keeping this simple and affordable.  I have lots of mini-critters (less than 1.5mm), 5 little shrimp (8mm) and about 15 Gammarus/copepods (2-5mm) (which I have seen at night pumps off and a hand lamp placed near the glass) <Neat> Thanks for your advice on this idea. Now, I got a green mandarin last week, my idea is to have a seahorse tank in the near future, and I wanted to begin with a fish with the same food demands but less picky. <Good idea> That's the only fish I have so far in my 40 gal tank, and it seems to be eating all day long, however I don't see anything on the rock when he sucks the water in (no I'm not blind, and I do use a magnifying glass), and I saw him spit back a worm once -one of the many times he sucked from the sand.  So my question is how big is the food for a mandarin? <Often very small... and nearly transparent... AND a great deal more and different types of food organisms come out during the night...>   He looks healthy enough but after reading all you FAQs wouldn't like to starve him at all.  Could I send you a picture just to be sure he's not thin? <Sure> I did see the picture from Lorenzo in your photo section but I don't see where is the "thin part" supposed to be, if you could add an arrow to the part to see it would be great! <It's the underside... "belly" area along the second half of the body. You'll see it be hollow, concave if it's thin.> 3.-As I stated before I'm beginning a biotope system, in the basics only (water, rocks, sand, phytoplankton and zooplankton) and plan to add the seahorses (don't tell me I need a bigger tank I've ordered my tank and will be a 100 gallon tall tank-this is just my experimentation tank-soon to be refugium) and maybe one more green mandarin, I've been feeding a little bit of brine shrimp too, but I'm afraid that it could take over the current critters I have and unbalance my system. <Mmm, no... Brine/Artemia don't really live that long, reproduce in the salinities of marine aquariums>   What do you think, should I quit brine shrimp and keep with what he's been eating or could both critters happily coexist? <I suggest a mix of the two> Thanks a lot and congratulation on your SUPER WEBSITE! Rogelio <Thank you for being part of it. Bob Fenner>  

Mandarin Sick or Starving? Hi,    First of all thanks a lot for your help on Cyanobacteria.  When I opened my mail and saw your reply I felt as if I had won the lottery, you really made my day!    I'm sending the picture of my mandarin to check if he's starving. [Image] <A nice pic, and your animal looks healthy, full-bodied to me> and also because, as you can see in the picture, he has a white thing hanging from his first dorsal fin (FDF), and some white spots around the fins, and sometimes on his back too, you can see one of those behind his eye. [Image] <Yes... does look like the size, indication of ich/Cryptocaryon... I would NOT do anything in the way of chemical treatment here... maybe bolster the animals immune system with added vitamins... soaked on its foods... and hope whatever it is "goes away" on its own, becomes less virulent.> These two pictures were taken 3 days ago, a week after he had arrived, after seeing this, I gave him a freshwater bath with Methylene blue for about 5 minutes, the poor thing nearly died, he had 2 bowel movements and thought that was enough (I now know that freshwater baths are not a good idea for scaleless fish, but back then, I didn't -I apologize). <Yes, Mandarins do not "like" FW dips> The colorless part at the middle of his second dorsal fin also looks better now, and his side fins which were bitten by some fish at the LFS, have also improved by now.     Back to my mistake, I also thought those white points were ick, they were actually sand that he sucks in and throws out through his gills (something aquarists should be aware of, you always see the picture of a clean mandarin and then start wondering what those white things coming and going are).  After the bath the white thing on his FDF fell off, but it has appeared again, after 2 days.  Further watching him I believe that the white stuff  is actually the "web-like" stuff that these snails (from the next picture) leave as they move. <This pic did not come through>   These trails are filled with white little critters which I assume are their children.  These shell-less snails are about 1 cm in length. [Image] These creature are all over the tank and I really hate the stuff they leave, which leads to question 2, I got these snails on some rock from the beach, I know I shouldn't take them back, so which is the "nicest" way to get rid of them? <Put them in a plastic bag and place them in the freezer... put in the trash later, near trash day>   I had the same problem 2 weeks ago with nearly 80 little sea urchins which came invisible in another rock and after growing to about 1 cm in around a month ate my whole LR, since back then I didn't have the mandarin and everything was local, I didn't care to take them back to the beach.   In advance, thanks a lot for your help.  You're definitely some type of aquarist angels.     Yours truly, Rogelio (Tampico, Mexico) <And you are a budding marine biologist! Make sure and study business as well... so you'll be both wealthy and able to enjoy your aquatic interests. Bob Fenner>

Mandarin Goby feeding 10/14/04 Hello, WWM Crew:  I read an article/email or two where Mysis was the thing to feed Mandarin Gobies.  Is this correct or do they mostly eat stuff off of live rock? <It is a very rare Mandarin that will eat any non-living prepared foods.  Most exclusively graze tiny crustaceans (amphipods and copepods) from live rock.> I have a small aquar., 2.5 gal with one Mandarin Goby and 2 lbs. of live rock and 3 to 4 lbs. of live sand on crushed coral.  What should I be feeding him as my lights are not that good right now for growing the live rock. Sincerely, Michael J. Polka <Unfortunately, this is probably not enough substrate to provide enough food for your mandarin.  You may try feeding live baby (or possibly adult) brine shrimp and then weaning it onto frozen alternatives, including Mysis, but I would not be optimistic of success.  Your mandarin should maintain a full bellied appearance.  If it does not, and especially if it starts to get thin along it's back, it is starving and should be relocated to a bigger tank with more rock to graze.  As a general rule of thumb, I usually suggest no smaller than a 55 gallon tank with a good amount of very mature live rock for a single mandarin.  Best Regards.  AdamC.>

Mandarin follow up 10/14/04 Thank you very, much Adam C.  I really apprec. you taking the time to answer my question in depth.  The folks at the aquarium store said I would need "one live rock" to keep this Mandarin.  Though I got one fantastic piece of rock, lots of big sponges already growing on it, it seems like some pretty sleazy or just plain ignorant advice.  My Mand. Has not eaten anything in almost a week so I will try to sell him back to the store.  Sincerely, mpolka <I would give them the benefit of the doubt and go with ignorance.  Unfortunately, there aren't many choices for such a small tank, but neon gobies, watchman gobies or rock blennies will probably do OK (and eat whatever you feed them!).  Best Regards.  AdamC.> Feeding 'Pods (9/15/04) Hello there, <Hi, Steve Allen today> This relates to an earlier question about creating a food breeding tank for a Mandarin Goby. <Mandarin Dragonet, they are not gobies as they are often mistakenly called in the trade.> If a stock a tank with live rock and sand and calpura (sp?) <Caulerpa, and you may want to study the downsides of this macroalgae. I can assure you from the many hundreds I have that 'pods thrive in Chaetomorpha, which lacks Caulerpa's many downsides.> algae to get the pods and worms to produce, will I need a fish in there as well to produce some waste? <No, and they'll just eat the 'pods.> If I do not keep a fish or some animal producing ammonia in a tank with live rock and live sand, will the live rock and live sand die? <The ongoing lifecycle (including death/decay) of the algae and the 'pods--like the toilet training book says, "Everyone Poops, including 'pods--will easily sustain your biofilter.> What do the pods and worms eat? <Pretty much anything organic. The folks at www.ipsf.com recommend finely ground flake food. Rotifers are great, as is Cyclop-eeze. I'd suggest you check out IPSF's website and the 'pod FAQs here for more info.> Thank you <You're welcome. Hope this helps.>

Tank Mix Hello , <Hi Mike, MacL here with you tonight.> hope things are well for all, my wife brought home a surprise for my b-day, a small female mandarin. She really likes these fish so I added it to my tank.<They are lovely fish.> Tank is 180g with 200+ lbs of live rock and a 55g downstream refugium that has a 4+" sand bed and over 70lbs of live rock along with macros (also have live rock in separate sump). In the fuge there are lots of bugs (amphipods, copepods, Mysis and some others I am not sure of). The tank is almost 3 yrs old and doing fine. My question is about the competition, I already have a six line wrasse and a orchid Dottyback in the tank (12 fish total including the mandarin) both eat like pigs when I feed. I see lots of pods and Mysis in the display when the lights go out and never noticed any decline in the pod population but am concerned now that the mandarin is in the mix. <These lil guys can chow down like maniacs on pods but sounds like you have a continual reproduction in your refugium. Just watch it closely>  In your opinion does it sound like this tank can support all. Other fish include yellow tang, flame angel, three reef Chromis, bicolor blenny, two oc. clowns.  <Honestly I think your tank will be fine.> Once again thanks for taking time to answer my questions. Mike Winston

Mandarin Goby food competition I recently acquired a Mandarin Goby/Dragonet.  I placed him in a well established small reef tank with a Six line wrasse.  I was wondering if the wrasse will compete with the Mandarin for the same food in the rocks and substrate? <To a very large degree, yes. If this system is large enough (sixty or more gallons), well-established (six months plus going), and otherwise uncrowded, set-up with lots of LR and LS... both animals may well be supported by live foodstuffs... You should be able to tell if the Mandarin is not getting enough to eat by careful observation (a hollow tummy region...). Bob Fenner> Thank you for your help. Christine

The Coral Killer Sequel <Janet, Ryan with you today.> Didn't add copper BUT just realized we have a large brass fitting in the sump below and I'm concerned this has leeched into the water. <I believe we have found the culprit!> Brass is copper and zinc, right? Is Zinc dangerous, too? We removed it last night and are hoping adding a carbon filter will help. Is a water change necessary now? <Yes, a good precaution.> Unrelated question: I have a mandarin dragonet and am feeding Cyclop-eeze. LFS said these were copepods(?)<Similar>, but the entire tank seems to just love these things. Current stock is: 1 yellow tang, 1 coral beauty, 1 harlequin Sweetlips (about 3" and yes, I know he's destined to become a big boy), 2 clown Percs, 2 blue devil damsels (both females, if that makes them any nicer??), 1 royal Gramma, 1 strawberry pseudo, 1 Bannerfish and 1 cleaner shrimp. I'm also feeding them purple seaweed (mostly beloved by the tang and coral beauty), and a frozen cube of marine goodies--krill, shrimp, etc...how much of the Cyclop-eeze should I be putting into a 175gal with these fish? <No more than they can consume in 2 minutes.> Any other foods you can recommend for the mandarin? <Mysis shrimp.> Anything else I should be adding for the others? I've had freshwater fish for years so I know the dangers of overfeeding, but these fish all have different diets and everybody seems to eat everything...I just want to make sure the pickiest eaters get enough. <Keep a close eye on water quality, and you'll achieve a balance.> Thanks so much for your response! Janet <Surely!  Sounds like you've finally kicked the curse!  Cheers, Ryan>

Mandarin Feeding Hi everyone at WWM <Hi Brett, MacL at your service today> Thanks for the information on the marine Betta the other day... I bought the fish, and its eating ghost shrimp now. Originally they had it eating brine shrimp only. Stores here in Bangkok use it as a staple food for just about every marine fish you can name.  I have tried using the FAQs - which are fantastic - but have another question for you. I have at a guess 30 kilograms of live rock so far in my 75 gallon soft coral/6 fish system Berlin system.  I added a large piece of what I think is Caulerpa to the system about a week after set-up - approx. going a month an a bit now, never had a big ammonia/nitrate cycling as the rock was already aged and I added bacteria.  The only corals added so far are some green corallimorphs and a pink tip jardinii. The power went off the other day and I noted thousands of copepods swimming all over the place - I guess they went back the rock when the power went on again. I have 2 Rio 3000 powerheads going for circulation. I have no intention of putting in a sump. Fish I intend to stock are the Marine Betta, two Banggai Cardinals - have got these fish now, two small Anthias or some other species filling that niche, and a Splendid Mandarin once the tank has had time to age. Will this system supply enough copepods to one mandarin with the Caulerpa in the tank and no sump? <The pods will reproduce in the rocks and in the sand as well. But remember these fish devour food. They will eat everything they can unless you can find a way to renew this source. Perhaps consider some type of in tank refugium as a place to le the copepods reproduce without the mandarin being able to reach them? >I think that it will be the main predator of copepods in my system.  Is that correct?  I have no real idea if Anthias or Cardinals consume them. <The Anthias might and the cardinals as well but generally they only eat what's in the water and don't search on the rocks etc.> Do corals consume them in large quantities or at all? <Some might> Will mandarins take other live foods? <Depends on the individual mandarin. Some will eat live brine.> Many thanks Brett

Mandarin In the Mix (Feeding and Keeping Mandarins) Hi Everyone at WWM: <Scott F. here with you tonight.> Thanks for the information on the Marine Betta the other day... I bought the fish, and it's eating ghost shrimp now.  Originally, they had it eating brine shrimp only. Stores here in Bangkok use it as a staple food for just about every marine fish you can name.  I have tried using the FAQs - which are fantastic - but have another question for you. <I'm ready, ask away.> I have, at a guess, 30 kilograms of live rock so far in my 75 gallon soft coral/6 fish system Berlin system.  I added a large piece of what I think is Caulerpa to the system about a week after set-up - approx. going a month and a bit now, never had a big ammonia/nitrate cycling as the rock was already aged and I added bacteria.  The only corals added so far are some green corallimorphs and a pink tip jardinii. The power went off the other day and I noted thousands of copepods swimming all over the place - I guess they went back into the rock when the power went on again.  I have 2 Rio 3000 powerheads going for circulation.  I have no intention of putting in a sump.  Fish I intend to stock are the Marine Betta, two Banggai Cardinals - have got these fish now, two small Anthias or some other species filling that niche, and a Splendid Mandarin once the tank has had time to age. Will this system supply enough copepods to one mandarin with the Caulerpa in the tank and no sump?   <I suppose if this is the only fish eating the pods, then you should be okay.  Your stock list include some relatively docile fishes, which will create a calm environment for the Mandarin.> I think that it will be the main predator of copepods in my system.  Is that correct? <For the most part, that is correct.> I have no real idea if  the Anthias or Cardinals consume them.  Do corals consume them in large quantities, or at all? <Anthias are more likely to eat free swimming creatures such as mysids, etc., that they can pluck from the water column.  The corals will not eat your pods.  Generally they will eat plankton.> Will mandarins take other live foods? <Yes, they will, on occasion, take food like Mysis shrimp and possibly brine shrimp, although I'm not a big fan of using them without nutritionally enriching them in some way.> Many thanks Brett <Best of luck to your tank!  Regards, Scott F.>

Refugium Question Hello, <Hi Scott, MacL here.> I have a 75 gallon tank and am buying an on the back refugium, so I could try to keep a mandarinfish. <Mandarinfish require a very large amount of copepods to keep them alive. Theoretically, you could keep the pods multiplying in the refugium and feeding the tank, but should this stop happening you will need to have an idea of where you can buy new pods to start a new colony.  With all the trouble, I think you'll find there are plenty of other wonderful fish that are much easier to keep.> What should I grow though in the tank. <So much to choose from Scott.  Lovely live rocks, some of the more light tolerant corals. Caulerpas or other types of sea grasses.> Such as what sand, plants, etc. <Its really all a matter of choice.  Most people use Caulerpas or sea grasses in the refugium as a place to encourage the pods to grow so they can keep some of the more difficult fish.> Thanks a lot. <You are welcome> Scott. <Good luck Scott, Sound like you are on the right path. MacL.>

'Pod Potluck (6/17/04) Hi Crew, <Steve Allen tonight.> Today I am looking for help with feeding my Synchiropus picturatus.  Since I know these fish require an ample supply of copepods, I waited more than a year for my 180g FOWLR aquarium to become established. <Patience is a generously rewarded virtue.> Additionally, about three months ago, I added a 20g refugium with red Gracilaria, Chaetomorpha, Caulerpa prolifera, feather Caulerpa and a starter supply of 'pods.  (I have read WWM postings as well as Anthony's "Reef Invertebrates", which caution against Caulerpa but Cyano was taking over all other macro algae so I needed something to assist with initial PO4 problems). <Caulerpa isn't all bad, but is high maintenance. I doubt you will succeed long-term in maintaining more than one species of algae in a single refugium.> About a month ago, I began adding corals and I finally added my Synchiropus picturatus. My concern now is that there still might not be enough copepods to support this fish. <Do you see scores/hundreds swimming about?> He is looking a little thin to me but he is not wasting away like some fish I have seen (i.e. I am unable to see outlines of ribs) so maybe this is his normal, healthy appearance.  I have read to looked for a "pinched" abdomen but I am unsure how much "pinching" represents a problem. There is a slight indention in the abdominal area but nothing extreme. <Could be OK. A sure sign of starvation is wasting of the dorsal paraspinal muscles (along the back on either side of the spine.) Sadly, I have seen many examples of this on Dragonets at the LFS.>   This leads to my main concern:  how successful will copepods be at moving from a downstream refugium, into a sump, through a MAG 18 pump, through an 18W UV sterilizer, to my aquarium? <Most will be dead from this combo, and Dragonets may not eat dead 'pods.> Ideally the refugium would simply spill into the display tank but I have found no way to make my ugly refugium appear to be an intended piece of furniture, sitting above but matching my display stand in my living room. <It can be one by keeping it nice. Check out Todd Rose's set up here: http://wetwebfotos.com/Home?actionRequest=userview&userID=1566 > (My wife tells me I have reached my aquarium limit in our house.) <Not much chance of changing that, I'm sure.> Do you have any recommendations for improving the 'pod output from my refugium to the display tank? <Well, you might consider not running them through the UV. Also, a good live sand bed and rock in the display ought to go a long way toward feeding a single Dragonet.> I had originally attached pictures of the mandarin and the tank plumbing but my email was being continually rejected <attachment too big probably>, so I am attempting to send this email without the file attachments this time. <No problem. Do see my other reply on how to avoid bounces.> Thank you, in advance, --Greg <Hope this helps.>

Mandarin foods... systems Hi Bob or Ananda, <Kevin>         Thanks for all your help on the Website and via email. <Welcome>         I got this Mandarin Goby on a 30 Gallon Tank, I've read the FAQ but did not see an answer for this, If the Mandarin eats worms could I buy bloodworms and feed it to her? <Usually won't satisfy, be enough for long... really, the best approach here are to present these animals to well-established, large, deep-sand-bedded systems with lots of vigorous live rock, a paucity of competitors or very active tankmates... and utilize a live sump/refugium> will the worm be enough nutrition combined with the live rock of about 10 lbs? <Doubtful in the medium to long run... might work for a few to several weeks> I know the 30 gallon is small and I plan to upgrade to 75 with lots of live rock. I do plan to have a 20 gallon to culture the copepods will this be enough? <Yes, but you have your "cart before your horse" here...> Just got this mandarins from the pet shop and they look healthy, I live in the Philippines and I can't find anyone who has a culture of copepods. How do I select the live rock to see if they are infested with copepods. thanks in advance for your help. <Ahh, you are likely able to collect sufficient plankton... easily by night... using a plastic screen, like a screen cover for a window, and pushing this in front of you over the sand... Bob Fenner>

Dragonet Food Source? Hey folks, <Hi Todd, Ryan with you> Great site - best aquaria reference I know. <Aw, shucks> Curious to know your opinion on keeping a dragonet in a 55-gal, 6-month old tank with about 50 lbs of live rock and an inch of live sand.  Tankmates include 6 snails, 6 hermit crabs, 3 cleaner shrimp, 2 bubble-tip anemones, a polyp coral, a clown and a damselfish.  The dragonet eats off the rocks, but we haven't seen him take anything else regularly fed to the tank, including flakes, formula 1, silversides & marine snow.  Will he be able to sustain himself?  What do you recommend? <I recommend adding refugia of some type to your system in an effort to sustain him.  If you can't plumb in a tank with algae, look to CPR for a nice little hang-on-style refugium.  I know it sounds simple, but even a Tupperware container of loose gravel, with Bridal-Veil netting covering it will be a haven for beneficial pods to grow.  It's going to be a while before this Dragonet realizes that prepared foods are edible- But to have a nice eater like a clown always helps.  I'd try Cyclop-Eeze, some Selcon soaked Mysis, or perhaps even some mega-marine frozen mix to get him in the right direction.  Good luck, Ryan> Cheers! Todd

Need to feed Mandarin fish - 4/23/04  Hi! What a site! You guys are angels of mercy! <Just concerned aquarists.>  Here's my situation: My husband has always looked after our reef aquarium (we've had approx. 5-6 years). However, in the past year, I've slowly taken over due to how demanding his job has become. I was so reluctant and scared at first, but have come a long way. I love it so much. <A very addicting hobby>  I'm always reading and learning (stay-at-home-mom)! I'm so enthralled that my husband jokes to our 8 yr old son... " mommy can't hear you... you don't have fins"! Anyway, currently everything in my tank is bang on. PH 8.2; ammonia 0; nitrate 20 (always runs there no matter what - even after water changes);<Check the Nitrate test>  nitrite 0. The tank is 40 gallons and over 1/3 is live rock and has been for 5 years... very well established. There are tons and tons of bristle worms that come out at night. I'm assuming that there are lots of amphipods as I see little bugs running around in the night also (using my red light bulb). Now here's the problem and I pray you don't feel like killing me!!!!!!!!!! Our LFS had two mandarin gobies...(yes, you're rolling you eyes - keep in mind I never knew about your website until after I bought them or I never would have bought them) I researched gobies in all my books and after deciding that they are relatively easy to take care of, bought them. <Uh oh. To be honest, and I am sure you know this by now, that a 40 gallon tank is not a good environment for keeping these beautiful animals. There could be territorial fighting and food sources will be eradicated quickly. You will need to add additional food stuffs. Fortunately for you there is a great place to buy them in just the right amount. Check out the amphipod and Mysid cultures from Sachs Aquaculture store: http://www.aquaculturestore.com/index.html >  Note the LFS phoned me at home and brought these to my attention or I never would have even known what they were... he kept saying the will eat a lot of my bristle worms. <Nope>  I really don't have a problem with my worms because I always like to feed a little extra and they do a great job cleaning up. <Agreed. Lucky for you Mandarin fish have not been known to eat Bristleworms>  My substrate is crushed coral - full of life and lots of bristle worms even in my live rock (all bristle worms are skinny, under and inch). Anyway, I haven't slept for five days since I got this fish. After looking on the internet about mandarin gobies (thus finding your website) and stunningly finding out that mandarin gobies aren't really gobies at all they are dragonets, I almost died! <Good for you though. You are doing the much needed research. Better late than never I always say>  I know you will tell me that my tank, etc isn't big enough. <Ummmmm......yeah......already did>  Soo.... Here are my questions... (Note, I called the LFS and told him all I'd found and he still says that in his paperwork the requirements for this fish are 30 gal aquarium and it will eat bristle worms - I don't agree but will do my best by these fish - note - I have no room for a larger tank! <OK>  1) My husband and I are building a refugium as an extra food source within the next two weeks (will help with nitrate to - maybe even get to zero!).<Don't have to sell me. I know the benefits of the a refugium. Use a deep sandbed as well>  We plan on putting lots of algae and amphipod and copepod starter kits - I'll take any advice on how big a tank; <Oh, about 10 gallons, maybe 20 gallons, if you can fit it. Do look through our section on refugium on our site>  how much algae; <Light 24 hours and get a few of varying species and let it grow like crazy!!>  how fast/slow water flow to & from main tank; <Depends on many factors. The simplest flow is to be sure that one tank doesn't drain and yet doesn't overflow. Do look through our site on refugiums>  how many starter organisms and how much of each. <Start with 30 amphipods and 30 or so mysids. Be sure to feed Spirulina pellets and other like minded flake foods>  2) with the dragonets actually eat bristle worms?? <Not in my opinion>  Can't find answer to this anywhere. 3) They currently have shrunken (thank God for internet) (a bit - female more so than male) stomachs but just under fin below one that twirls all day - almost like a chicken bone appearance - but not all the way to tail - just under fin (is this normal?) - a bit concave. <No. Are they eating?>   4) the LFS assures me they weren't caught with cyanide however he had them in a tank with copper (not good, right) <Not necessarily but I wouldn't just take a vendors word for whether or not cyanide was used to catch fish. (This vendor did mistakenly tell you that these fish were gobies and that they eat Bristleworms. We (at the Aquarium) are guaranteed all the time that fish are cyanide free but post mortems sometimes show signs of cyanide poisoning>  They are hunting and pecking at stuff all day. The male especially pecks at the glass a lot - I can't see anything there - are copepods that small. <Yes but he may be picking at the small amphipods>  6) I shut filter, etc off so no water flow and feed blood worms and brine shrimp (frozen). <Not good long term nutrition for any fish>  They slowly drop to bottom and ripple by them and they eat what they get - I know they're not aggressive. <You can say tat again.>  My yellow tang rubs his tail against them sometimes (why) and there are no stressful situations between tankmates - very calm happy aquarium. <Good>  7) I have two little blue yellow tail tang, 1 small domino and one big, a clown with two Condylactis anemones (not huge) that the clown never ever comes out of - loves them even though they're not hosts, a Royal Dottyback and a pajama fish. <In a 40 gallon. This is too many fish in my opinion>  All is very peaceful!! <We'll see. My experience is that this can spiral out of control, but occasionally Zen takes over and all is right in the fish world. Will just have to wait and see. If all is fine then don't need fixin' right?>  They seem even more peaceful since I added the dragonets if you can believe it. <Very likely your impression but there is no evidence that fish are phased by the beautiful coloring of the mandarin fish. Not like us humans. I was on a dive in Palau and almost drowned just staring at the hundreds of these guys on a back lagoon. What a beautiful way to spend an evening in tropical paradise. Breeding mandarins is a sight to see. Especially times 50>  But they are very well taken care of as I am very, very conscientious! <Good. Do check out http://www.aquaculturestore.com/index.html  and purchase some food to add to your tank Cheap and free shipping. Will go along way in helping to keep these animals alive>  I know the Mandarinfish were a mistake but want to do right by them. It's a blessing for them in so much as no one else could possibly care as much as I do about humanity and I vow to do what it takes to make sure their food supply is there. <Excellent.>  What do you think of hatching Mysis and brine shrimps. <No need. There are plenty of online resources. Brine is fairly easy but amphipods, copepods, and mysids can be purchased frozen or live from many resources. Check out the above link along with www.seafarm.com. These are excellent vendors I have used personally and professionally>  Please write me and answer and sorry for the long winded disorganized letter. <No worries.>  Sincerely Georgia! <Thanks Georgia. ~Paul>

Mandarin keeping- 2/27/04 Oh, thank you so very much for the quick response. I did find some copepods in the Eheim filter and took that out and tested the gunk and it was just as good as the tank, no nitrates, no nitrites, ph, salinity everything just fine. <Great> So we put that in the tank and the live copepods that seem pretty big into the "breeder tank" I got a light on it, could only find a 10 gal size but it will do. Will test water frequently for poor water and water change. <Keep the water quality high, mate> Do you think I should clean up the live rock by scrubbing some of the dead stuff off then? <Not a bad idea, then siphon it out> I am not sure if the fish can wait until the rock is cured as well as the time it takes to culture and obtain the copepods which I hear is about 6 weeks. <Gonna have to!!>  Can we buy already raised copepods on line for a quick fix until ours are growing? <Sure. Check out www.aquaculturestore.com (tell them Paul Mansur from wetwebmedia.com sent you or try www.seafarm.com> Funny how the LFS stores in town all sell these beautiful fish yet no one sells copepods or culture kits. <Well, the fish likely eat frozen foodstuffs except for the Mandarin. Some will except frozen foods though>  The one my son works for is giving us the stuff in the skimmer hoping that will contain copepods. <Stuff i the skimmer???> They have 1 mandarin in their reef tank, he is not for sale! But is apart of the permanent creatures they care for in this reef tank that has coral for sale in. <Lots of stores do this. Annoying ain't it?> We need food for the mandarin now any suggestions to help him hang on until we can get the copepods growing, I hear it takes about 6 weeks from the time you receive the kit. <Or more. No guarantees either. Try frozen foods like mysids, Cyclops-eeze, Artemia etc> The kit is for the 10 gal tank size, do you think it will matter for the 5 gallon as long as we have enough food. <Limiting but likely fine> Do copepods need to be fed phytoplankton, zooplankton and such? <Yes. Also can be found at www.seafarm.com. Let Randy know I sent you from Wetwebmedia.com> Boy, this is a ton of work, it will be worth it if the fish can come through however, anyone purchasing a mandarin is nuts. <Agreed. I am not a supporter of keeping mandarin fish in captivity> Unless they have everything it takes to grow copepods! Again, I cannot tell you how appreciative to have your response, so helpful, and so quickly. <It's what we do> Thanks so very much. <Thanks for being part of it all. ~Paul> Sue and Ryan

QUARANTINE CATCH 22. . . SORT OF? 2/24/04 Hi gang:  I'm a big fan of Conscientious Aquarist and Reef Invertebrates.  <Glad you have benefited!> I now realize that having assembled a thriving reef without importing anything deadly or harmful to the life therein was just a matter of blind luck. . . and I'm now sold on the idea of quarantine. <Congrats!  Most folks require catastrophic losses to catch onto quarantine, and most don't get it even then.> My question is this: Given a Mandarin goby's preferred/exclusive pods diet, how does one successfully bring one through a quarantine regimen? My system's fishless refugium is producing more 'little critters' than I ever thought possible, but my bare, sterile 12 gallon QT tank is just that. What am I missing?. . . <You aren't missing anything.  This is quite a quandary.  I would make two suggestions...  First, if your refugium can be temporarily isolated from your display, it can be used for quarantine.  Second, you could capture live foods from the refugium to feed your mandarin while in a separate quarantine.  Fortunately, mandarins are quite disease resistant and an abbreviated quarantine of two weeks or so should be adequate.  Best regards!  Adam> Chuck

Response to "QUARANTINE CATCH 22. . . SORT OF? 2/24/04" Hello crew, After reading the post "QUARANTINE CATCH 22. . . SORT OF? 2/24/04" I thought that I had an idea that might help Chuck feed his mandarin while he is quarantine.  I have an AGA tank with the corner overflow, and this particular setup has a cylindrical sponge prefilter on the standpipe.  Well, this prefilter is crawling with pods.  When I give it a weekly cleaning they come screaming out all over the place.  Recently I started rinsing the sponge in premixed salt water over a net and catching the little guys.  Then I dump them into the tank where my 2 Firefish have a pod eating party.  I thought that if Chuck could put some coarse prefilter sponge, or something similar, into his fuge it could be a convenient way to harvest some pods for the mandarin.  Just a thought, for what it's worth. Nick Silvaggi http://www.Freshwater-Aquarium-Fish.com <Thanks much for chiming in. Will post, store for others edification. Bob Fenner>

-Another starving mandarin...- My 15 y.o son who works at a LFS started a reef tank in December. He is going very slowly as it is expensive and he says best for the tank however someone came in to the store with a mandarin that was kept in a fish only tank with no live rock or sand. The poor thing was starving and so my son was able to pick him up cheap. <This is waaaay too common of an occurrence, quite a shame.> He has a 75 gal tank with 110 pounds of live rock, 1.5 to 2 inches of aragonite for the bottom. I know we are supposed to have closer to 3 inches of sand but how do we get that in the tank now that it is up and going? <You can add layers slowly, like 1/4" at a time. Use either (or a mix) of live sand and that fancy bagged-with-water fake "live" sand since it's very clean (won't milk up the tank like dry sand will)>. I added a little yesterday and created a huge dust storm in the tank. <Haha, yep, go for the bagged fake-live sand. There's two brands i know of: Aragalive and Bio-Active. The "live" properties are nothing more than propaganda, but it's nice a clean!> He has 1 cleaner shrimp, 1 moon snail, 1 small short spined sea urchin who spends most of his time grassing the glass and in the skimmer. He has 3 mushroom rocks and started a xenia. He has 18 blue and red hermits and 4 bumble bee snails. The only other fish is the damsel -blue and yellow tail. So far the damsel and the mandarin share the tank without any territorial spacing from the damsel. Since we are aware that the mandarin fish usually die in captivity due to starvation and that they only eat live food we have decided to create the tank around him with hoping to add a purple Linckia starfish. <Excellent, I can see you've done your research.> I was hoping that the tank itself could keep the mandarin full with live food from the life cycle of the copepods continuing. <It's borderline, assume that it can't.> We have put Caulerpa along the glass sides of the tank from the copepods to live in. We feed zooplankton several times a week and phytoplankton every other day. We also use formula 1 and 2 and the treat of frozen Mysis shrimp. We have a small home and no space for a refugium but did set up a 5 gal tank on his desktop-we could go to a 10 gal tank. We put in 7 pounds of live rock and aragonite substrate at 2-3 inches. The rock had just come in to a pet store from Fiji and was not cured. I suppose it wasn't even cared for properly. I am trying to cycle this small tank. Caulerpa is floating around in the tank, a heater and a cartridge filter. <Since the rock is uncured, make sure you do frequent large water changes on this little tank so you don't inadvertently kill off the living stuff as the dead stuff decomposes.> We also have a small hang on filter pump that we are not using but could if it is recommended. <Sure, toss it on.> This small tank is set in front of a south window and at this point does not have a light. Would you recommend a light? <It would help get the algae growing, but if the nutrients are not kept in check it'll be a mess of problematic algae.> We are hoping to be able to grow our own live food for our fish. Now when growing copepods and ordering the kit online is that enough to keep replenishing and continuing the reproduction, food cycle for the mandarin or do we need to reorder every so often? <So long as you don't crash your culture of critters, you shouldn't have to reorder.> When can I add the copepod cultures to the small tank since I just set it up? <Wait till the rock is cured. Small rubble like rocks are best for harboring these critters, also stock the tank well with algae.> Could we raise the copepods in the main tank with the mandarin? <That would sort of defeat the purpose, it would likely wipe out the broodstock.>  What other type of reef safe fish would you recommend that would not compete for food with the mandarin? <Some wrasses (six line wrasse comes to mind), other dragonettes, some Pseudo's, etc. Choose open water swimming fish, and you should be fine.> Are the animals that we have OK to keep with the mandarin? <Yep.> And, any advise for the set up that I have to grow the copepods in would be more than welcome! <Feed it a lot!> Any, advise regarding the animals we already have is also welcome. I am just thankful to have your website to utilize and hope you have the time for the special attention that this question warrants. <I hope this helps, and i wish you the best of luck w/ the mandarin! -Kevin> Sue

Sand Cleaners & Mandarin Dragonets  Hi question about sand cleaners or stirrers? <OK>  I have a 120gal with about 100lbs of live rock that has been growing for a year with nothing except hermit crabs and snails. I have had Percula clowns for about a month and all they eat is formula one and brine shrimp. I see lots of little shrimp or little I call them bugs. <Most likely copepods, amphipods & Mysis shrimp.>  I recently added a mandarin (Pterosynchiropus splendis) and see him picking at the rocks eating. <Good> Will my tank continue to produce food for him or does his food not reproduce in a tank? <He'll eat the 'pods & they will hopefully sustain sufficient reproduction to keep him alive. More than 90% of all Mandarins starve to death> I believe they only eat live food correct? <Rare for them to eat anything else.>  Do I need these sand stars or sand snails in my tank? If so what kind of stars and snails are they and do the eat coral? <I would consider Nassarius snails for sand stirring and maybe brittle- or serpent stars for detritus clean-up. No "sand-shifting" stars or other bottom predators. They will out-eat your Mandarin.>  Thanks for your time, Rob <Hope this helps. Steve Allen>>

Sand-Shifting Stars and Mandarins (2/3/04) Thanks for answering the questions on the Mandarin. What about the sand starfish and sand snails that stir the bottom do I need them in my tank to make it healthy? <No> What kind of stars and snails do I need? <Apparently, my reply to you became garbled in cyberspace. As in the posted version, I would not recommend "sand-shifting" stars or any other bottom predator. They will sterilize your sand. Brittlestars for detritus clean-up and Nassarius snails to stir will be fine. I think these snails are cool to watch. Amazingly fast-moving. They burrow into the sand and all you may see of them is their "periscope" sticking up until the suddenly surface.> Thanks Rob <Hope this helps, Steve Allen.>

Mandarin Goby Starving 2/2/04  Please help me with my Mandarin Goby. After 1 month he is getting very thin, he is eating only Zooplankton. I have a 37 G, with 4 " LS , only @17 Lbs LR( plan on getting More) . He eats but my Yellow tang is such a pig, and goby is so placid he is not getting enough. Also have 4 Damsels , A. Ocellaris, and an anemone (Not Doing Well). Should I put Goby in my 20G QT with no other fish so he can eat w/o competition, but loose his LV? What other foods can I offer him? I would like to do some live( he does not like brine Shrimp) but would like to know what he will take before getting involved. I know now he needs at least 75 lbs LR I will research in the future before buying. It's very sad I want to save him but maybe the best is to give him to a friend with a 100 G tank with lots of LR.  <Your yellow tang is not competing with the mandarin for food. Mandarins eat only live copepods and amphipods from live rock. The damsels may be eating some of these critters too. Since the mandarin will only eat those live critters, moving it to a Quarantine tank will not be of any benefit. If you added some more rock to your tank, removed the damsels and gave it several months to mature, you *might* be able to support a mandarin. The best thing you can do at this point is give it to someone with a more suitable tank. Also, as an aside, your yellow tang is probably already a little cramped in a 37g tank, and will need much larger quarters very soon.>  Second Problem. White Clown Anemone retracted.  <Please provide a scientific name here. The only anemone that is naturally white and commonly enters the trade are Condylactis. Any other anemone that is white is bleached and likely will die.>  Only had 1 week and has been up and downs. I moved it closer to light source and improved for a couple of days but now very retracted. Do anemones like cooler temps. I thought read 71 F, I currently have tank at 76.  <Even 76 is a bit too cool for tropical animals. 78-82 is more appropriate. 71 is way too cool. Anemones are very hard to maintain long terms and require a lot of light. What kind of lighting are you providing?>  I just did a 10G water change today and a two days ago because nitrites were up (not nitrates). Maybe because I had shut off and UG Filter 3 weeks ago before adding LS. I have a 300 gph hang on filter, & Protein Skimmer (Sea Clone )all other tests including phosphates are good. <The presence of nitrite is a serious problem. UG filters are not considered ideal reef tank filtration. It is likely that die off from the live sand itself caused an ammonia spike followed by nitrite (which you measured). Live Rock and/or live sand should never be added to an established tank without curing for this reason. Please always list out all of your test results (even if you think they are "fine". At minimum, you should report ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, salinity, pH, and alkalinity. If you don't already have one of the following books, please do consider them for good general basic salt water husbandry: "The Conscientious Marine Aquarist" by Bob Fenner, "The Reef Aquarium" Vol 1&2 by Delbeek and Sprung. Best Regards. Adam>

Starving Mandarin's Last Hope (1/31/04) Please help me with my Mandarin Goby. After 1 month he is getting very thin, he is eating only Zooplankton. I have a 37 G, with 4" LS , only  @17 Lbs LR( plan on getting More) . He eats but my Yellow tang is such a pig, and goby is so placid he is not getting enough. Also have 4 Damsels , A. Ocellaris, And an anemone Not Doing Well). Should I put Goby in my 20G QT with no other fish so he can eat w/o completion, but loose his LV? <LV?> What other foods can I offer him? I would like to do some live he does not like brine Shrimp) but would like to know what he will take before getting involved. I know now he needs at least 75 lbs LR. <Even that is seldom enough. A refugium producing a constant supply of copepods and amphipods is best in addition to lots of LR and a non-competitive environment.> I will research in the future before buying. It's very sad I want to save him but maybe the best is to give him to a friend with a 100 G tank with lots of LR. <This is his only hope. There is nothing you can do for him in your system. Left there, he will die. Even with your friend, the Dragonet (they're nor really Gobies) is probably too far gone to save. It's worth a try, but the risk to your friend is that it could bring some contagious disease into his/her system.>   Second Problem. White Clown Anemone retracted. Only had 1 week and has been up and downs. I moved it closer to light source and improved for a couple of days but now very retracted. <Maybe your lights aren't strong enough.> Do anemones like cooler temps. I thought  read 71 F, I currently have tank at 76 F. <Depends on where they came from.> I just did a 10G water change today and a  two days ago because nitrites were up not nitrates). Maybe because I had shut off and UG Filter 3 weeks ago before adding LS. <Might have released some bad things from under the plate.> I have a 300 gph hang on filter,  & Protein Skimmer (Sea Clone )<this skimmer has a bad reputation as junk that does not work. Search that name in the FAQs.> all other tests including phosphates are good. <By this I hope you mean zero ammonia & nitrites, low nitrates, and ideal range, stable alkalinity, calcium, salinity and pH. Anemones need pristine water conditions and intense light. Read more on WWM. Do follow your plan to research before any future purchases. It will save you heartache and wasted money, not to mention wasted animal lives. Hope this helps, Steve Allen.>

-Hey, don't eat that, it's for the mandarin!!- Hello again crew.  I have a couple questions for you.  I have a 45G setup with a couple false clowns, 2 yellow tail blue Damsels, a Peppermint shrimp, and a Mandarin.  I have been breeding tons of amphipods in a separate 10 gallon tank for the last 6 months, placing as many as possible in the main tank, and did a couple of one time <oxymoron anyone? ;) > seeding of about 100+ pods to the main tank prior to getting the mandarin...so I know they are in there!  I have a ton of blue leg and scarlet crabs in the tank.  I have noticed the crabs, and more specifically the peppermint shrimp hunting and eating these pods as well.  I have been thinking lately about removing the shrimp and a bunch of these crabs to cut down on the competition of them consuming the Mandarin's amphipods.  Would you suggest this?  <Definitely, in this size tank, the mandarin's going to need all the help he can get. I'm impressed how proactive you are about this, you're one of the relatively few conscientious mandarin owners! I think the peppermint shrimp would serve you better in a separate tank (not the 'fuge) since they will regularly breed, releasing tons of mandarin chow! I hope this helps, -Kevin> Steve  

Mandarin foods 1/6/04 hi I have a simple question. I'm interested in purchasing a green Mandarinfish. I know these guys are extremely picky eaters but I have herd of them eating vitamin enriched Mysis shrimp. Is this a diet they can survive off of? <They might survive on this diet, but there are two major problems.  First, it is extremely rare for a mandarin to eat any non-living food, far too rare to gamble on the chance maybe 1 out of thousands will eat non-live food).  Second, Mysis are a poor choice because they are much too large for the average size mandarin.> And also I only have 8 lbs, of live rock, I know this is now enough for a mandarin fish to survive off of, is there anyway I can keep one of these fish? <I am sorry to say no.  I would not recommend a mandarin in any tank less than about 75 gallons with plenty of live rock and preferably a refugium to supply the necessary food.> Another question I have is all of the sudden my tank has become cloudy. I think it might be due to over feeding, so I siphoned the substrate and replaced about 30% of the water. It still looks cloudy however. Will these clouds clear? and what can I do to help them clear? <Cloudy water in a marine tank is pretty unusual.  It could be bacteria or algae bloom and is usually related to over feeding or some major disturbance (animal death, etc.).  I would continue with water changes every few days.  If you have a protein skimmer, make sure it is functioning properly.  If you are running any other filtration, make sure it is clean and also functioning properly.  Please do check ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, pH, alkalinity and salinity and verify that they are all in the appropriate range.  I would not add any animals until this is resolved.> Thanks a lot Tom <No problem!  Adam>

Making Room for Baby >I'm afraid I've been put in a rather awkward situation.  I have a friend who recently discovered that he cannot care for a mandarin.   >>Oh, the joy of friends, eh? >Being the only other reefer he knows with a mature tank, he has lain the burden of the little guy on me.  My main tank is a 55gal with about 55lbs of LR.  I also have a sump with perhaps 1lb of rubble rock.  I know that I have both copepods and amphipods.  I have seen some rather large amphipods in the sump making burrows.  My concern, however, is that the population I have will not be enough.  My tank is only 7 months old.   >>Makes sense to me.  This can be supplemented by setting up an additional refugium, ten or twenty gallons (you can go really on the cheap and use a Rubbermaid container).  Set up a DSB and another ten or twenty pounds of live rock, contact Inland Aquatics and see if they have a "pod starter" package. >Another big concern is that I somehow introduced Mysid shrimp into the tank, which have quickly exploded into a huge presence.   >>These will be mandarin food. >I'm afraid that they will voraciously deprive the mandarin of any pods and will themselves be impossible for the mandarin to catch and eat. >>If you put the mandarin in the sump he'd be able to get to those pods no problem.  You can slightly overfeed the system to ensure sufficient nutrients for the other pods, but I'm not so sure you need to. >Any advice for my situation?  I've already ordered an amphipod breeding kit from IPSF.com in the hope of ratcheting up food production.  Stratos Kotzabassi >>I was going to suggest something along those lines, but you're on top of it, mate.  The only other is the remote refugium.  As long as you don't have other animals that will compete with the mandarin for the pods, you should have a good chance of maintaining him with the additional food sources.  Marina

- Wrasse Follow-up, and Surprise! Mandarin Not Eating - Thanks Kevin I removed the wrasse as requested but also made some of the other fish etc unhappy. <Can't please everyone I suppose!> Also I have never seen the mandarin eat .I feed a lot of shrimp and other live food because of the longnose butterfly so I am sure there is enough left over laying about 4 him but like I said I never see him racing 4 it. When the lights go out he moves about a lot more .Could there be a reason 4 this. Could it be that he is shy or just maybe food related? <Actually, Mandarins will usually never eat prepared foods in aquaria. There are a few exceptions, and thanks to the vocal minority of successful mandarin keepers, aquarists keep "trying" them. When purchasing a mandarin, you should assume that it won't eat. Mandarins will seek out copepods, amphipods, etc from the rockwork and can live quite comfortably off a healthy population of these 'pods. Unfortunately it takes a large, well established tank (likely with refugia) to sustain such a population.> Thanks again u guys help out a lot. Here in South-Africa (Cape Town) info leads to money or suffer the loss if u understand what I mean. <Are there many marine aquarists in South Africa? Good luck, -Kevin> Cheers David

Algae ID/Cyano trouble/mandarin feeding tip Just wanna report a few things and reiterate how important quarantine is. Because I FAILED to quarantine a small colony of red kelp (macro algae - right?), specifically Gelidium pulchellum. <Hey- you heard it here, folks!> Do you guys have any info on this species? <Do a key word search on this species on the 'net...There are some very good sites focusing on macro algae, such as those supported University of Hawaii's Dept of Tropical Agriculture, among others...Really good reading, albeit a bit academic...> It took me many hours to identify, it has spread and seeded red Cyano bacteria. <Bummer...lots of other possible factors, too> A battle I will begin with vigor!  (aggressive skimming right?) <Yep- and water changes with high quality water, and good water movement, etc...> Also, an apparent breakthrough! My mandarin seems to love "Zooplex"  from "Kent Marine". I was told this bottled liquid zooplankton came out a few months ago. Since I've been using it, my mandarin seems to "pick food" way more often and seems more energetic. Wanted to get the crews' thought on this product. <Don't personally use this product...Very interesting to hear that this product is having a positive effect on your Mandarin...Perhaps some of our other readers may have some experience and feedback about this product... Hey- if it works- Keep using the stuff! Do observe carefully, and observe the long-term effects of it's use (i.e.; impact on algae growth, water quality, etc) Thanks for sharing! Regards, Scott F>

Malnourished Mandarin? I recently bought a small Mandarin Goby (Female) for my 48 gallon tank setup. The tank is a Live sand substrate/Live rock decorated tank and has been established for about a year now. I figured that with all the live sand and live rock that the Mandarin Goby (Synchiropus splendidus variety) would have plenty to eat, as there should be a nice copepod population in the tank. But I am unsure as to whether or not the goby is eating properly. The area directly behind its pectoral fins (on its belly) seems sharply depressed, but the fish doesn't seem to be anorexic.   I'm not sure if it's eating right, or at all as a matter of fact, any way I can tell how it's doing? <Well, if it looks a bit "pinched in", it can be a sign of malnourishment. One of the best ways is to observe the fish from above. If the fish does not have a nice rounded appearance, that's another clue. Also, when viewing the fish from the side, you can see an obvious sunken in stomach in a malnourished fish> Any warning signs I should watch for? I read that they can be supplemented with freshly hatched live brine, so I hatched some and poured it all into the tank. Not sure if she ate any of it, saw her pecking at the Plexiglas so I would assume so. <Well, if she ate the brine shrimp, that's a start...However, you really would want to feed the brine shrimp a supplement, such as Selcon or Vita Chem to enrich them. Also, if your refugium is producing live Mysis, you might want to do it the hard way and actually net some out to feed...> You see, she likes to sit vertical on the back tank wall where there are some dense patches of hair algae, that's where she was when I observed this behavior. <Well, hair algae tends to harbor some of the amphipods and other fauna that these fishes eat. It was a good area for him to forage in...> Noticed something weird she does too, she seems to like flashlight light and has a habit of floating when she sleeps, she sleeps at the water surface, just barely submerged. My LFS owner tells me that his hide in the Live rock when they sleep, so should this worry me? <Well, the "floating" could be indicative of weakness, or loss of hydrostatic control, brought about by starvation...OR, it could simply be a behavior that the fish is comfortable engaging in...I'd observe the fish very carefully> Here are my tank stats: 48gallon Plexiglas (L x W x H) 36"x15"x15". Yellow tang, Decorator Crab, Sharpnosed puffer, Bleeding-Heart Wrasse. No tank mates bother her. <That's a good thing> From the information I have given, the three questions I have are: 1.) Are her sleeping habits weird? A sign of some problem? <As above...> 2.) How can I tell if she's eating right and if she's getting enough to eat, etc.?  I checked out the picture you u linked someone else to, you u know the health comparison one between the two psychedelic gobies, and I couldn't tell what were the key points that defined one as healthy and the other un healthy. <As outlined above- look for general "fullness" about the body, and vigor that is obvious in a healthy specimen> 3.) Should a healthy mandarin's stomach area be full looking like a puffer's after a meal, or will it not reveal any change should their eating habits be well/poor? <No- it should be full and well rounded> I know I've said a mouthful, but if you could answer these for me I'd really appreciate it, this website seems to be the only place where anyone could possibly answer my questions, thanks :) <Our pleasure. Hope this helps. Just keep trying to tempt the fish with a variety of foods...I like Mysis. Also, you could cultivate amphipods in a separate tank for feeding. Check out the offerings of Indo Pacific Sea Farms, which offers a great "starter kit" of amphipods. Also, Florida Aqua Farms and Inland Aquatics...Good luck with your Mandarin! Regards, Scott F.>

Mandarins and seahorses. Quick question.....While most of the animals in my tank (150gal w/ 150lbs of live rock) readily accept Mysis shrimp, (animals are mostly serpent stars, lots of hermit crabs and lots of shrimp) the 2 newest additions (a false mandarin and a seahorse) seem to only be interested in grazing off of the live rock. Will this over time prove to be detrimental? or will the rock continually replenish itself? And, I like these animals, so if they are depleting my rock, what can be done to keep the rock healthy and safely add more seahorses & mandarins, (which I think are really cool)?<First of all mandarins and sea horses eat pods (small crustaceans that live in live sand/ live rock. I hope your live rock is full of pods that are reproducing readily, if not your mandarin will surely starve eventually. The mandarin and the sea horse will eat these small crustaceans that live in crevices in the LR-I wouldn't be too concerned with it being detrimental to your LR...they are just eating creatures that live in the rocks not eating the rock itself!, Do research more on mandarins and sea horses on WWM, IanB> Your friend in CT, -Pat

Brine Shrimp For Mandarins Hi crew, thank you for your time and help answering ALL the questions. As a devoted daily FAQ reader I know a lot of time and effort is expended on your part for the masses. I for one really appreciate it!!! My question is to clarify a brine shrimp for food question. I realize brine shrimp adults are nutritionally poor. I also read about "gut loaded" brine shrimp. Are "gut loaded" brine shrimp adult brine shrimp (hatched or purchased) that have been fed green water or Selcon? If so, are these adult shrimp now nutritionally worthwhile to feed?<Not particularly, I would not rely on this for my mandarins diet (will perish eventually from lack of nutrition> In particular, I'm curious if the gut loaded shrimp would be good to raise for Mandarin Dragonet food.<above> My 110 gal reef tank and sump has loads of  Gammarus shrimp BUT I only see them active at night when the Mandarin is "sleeping"/inactive.<The mandarin should be kept in a aquarium in which he has a good supply of these crustaceans to eat> What are your thoughts?<Mandarins eat pods (small shrimp)...I suggest that you set-up some type of refugium aquarium (where pods reproduce A LOT) Mandarins prey on these small crustaceans (and they are essential for the well being of these delicate fish. Do read more on WWM about mandarins, IanB>

"Manny Fresh" Lives! (Mandarin Success Story! Hi Scott, <Hello again!> I really appreciate getting your advice in such a timely fashion. I will be following your advice on treating the Mandarin and I found another site that has a super helpful article on culturing copepods in the comfort of your own home! (just kidding - kinda') I am including the link for anyone who has a Mandarin Dragonette - http://www.advancedaquarist.com/issues/feb2003/breeder2.htm There you go - your fishes live food supply prob.s are ovaahh! Oh yeah and "Manny Fresh" (The Mandarin thanks you for your help in saving his life) Thanks, Jason <Glad to hear that things are improving for "Manny Fresh"- I hope that things continue to go well! And thanks for the link...so much good information out there on the 'net.. Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

A Mandarin By Any Other Name... Hello again, sorry to bother you.  <Never a bother! Scott F. with you here tonight>  I have a 30 gal. saltwater aquarium that was basically "grafted" from a larger 135 gal set-up.  Here's the breakdown: 60 lbs. live aragonite 60 lbs. live rock (bristling w/ various pods and small shrimp) Skilter 400 (air stone powered for better venturi) Penguin 550 power head (145 gph) for circulation 2 65w 50/50 compact fluorescents 100 Watt heater 13 Turbos 10 various small (1" or less) hermit crabs 1 banded coral shrimp I think that's it.  :-)  Anyways, I am very interested in getting a Synchiropus stellatus.  Will this size aquarium support one of these?  <Well, in my opinion, it's not just a matter of tank size, rather- it's a matter of whether or not the tank is producing foods (such as amphipods and copepods) in sufficient quantity to sustain the fish. If your tank supports a large quantity of these creatures, then you will have a much greater chance for success> I've already figured out that there's basically no way I could have any luck with my first choice, a Pterosynchiropus splendidus (unfortunate, as they are very beautiful). So a Synchiropus stellatus is my 2nd choice. OTOH, I don't want to doom this fish to a short life of slow starvation either. <Just to clarify- both of the species you're considering have similar dietary requirements and feeding habits. What works for one will work for the other, in my experience. If you design your tank around the unique requirements of these fishes, then you will be able to achieve much greater success with them.> Also do you have any information on their dietary requirements (assuming they eat more than pods and such)? Thank you for your valuable time. Jeff Skaggs <Well, Jeff, the majority of the diet of these little fishes is amphipods, and they can best be kept if these foods are supplied regularly. Other suitable foods include enriched brine shrimp or frozen Mysis, if you can wean your fish to frozen foods. Study the needs of this fish carefully, and you'll be able to provide them with the best possible care! Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

A Mandarin That Eats??   3/31/03 Ok you don't have to post this since I believe that it is not a normal occurrence..<It's ok.. we post 99.9% of mail we get.  BTW, this is Phil> but I have kept a mandarin now for almost 4 months, and lots of money, and effort has been taken into seeing him eat...<These guys are tough...> he cleaned out my pod population in about 2 months, and I bought more... but as it was in transit from indo pacific, I got him to eat brine shrimp.<Cool, at least he's eating..> I know this is not the healthiest, but it kept him going while pods were in route...<As long as he's eating something you better off.> well I am not happy to say that my mandarin eats the flake and pellet food that I feed my clowns, the flake is by Aquadine, its a mix of plant and animal..<I feed my fish flakes once a day.  And they are fine.> he has shown some weight gain in the last week.<Great!> is this going to work?<As a treat sure, maybe try adding Mysis shrimp to the brine mix.  Then slowly remove the brine over a few weeks/months.> I know this is rare and would never have bought a mandarin if I researched it first. but can I expect him to continue to take the flake?<Probably, try the brine to Mysis cross-over as a treat.  Even though you have pods he might want something a little different every once and a while...   ;)> thanks<No problem, good luck!  Phil>

Scoot Out The Scooter! Hey guys and gals! <Scott F. your guy today!> I have a 72g FOWLR tank that houses a small Yellow Tang (2-3"), 1 Strawberry Basslet (2"), a tiny Ocellaris Clown (3/4-1"), a Spotted Hawk (2"), a 3-stripe Damsel (1"), a Scooter Blenny (1 1/2"), and various crabs and snails. It has about 85-90lbs of LR, most of which has been added in the past few weeks (fully cycled). My readings are nitrites 0, ammonia 0, nitrates 15-20, ph 8.5, salinity 1.024. I'm running an UGF with 2 powerhead 302's and an AquaC Remora skimmer that isn't producing much skimmate even though I've adjusted it every way possible. My lights are 2 40w NO's. My question today is on my Scooter Blenny. I asked my LFS if my tank would be able to support the Blenny when I got him (at that time it only had about 20lbs of LR) and they said he would be fine because he had been eating Mysis for them. I've now had him a couple of months and he is losing weight. <Unfortunately, an all-too-common occurrence in most tanks> After reading your site I see this is a common problem and that they often die in captivity. Is there anything I can do to get him to gain some weight? <Well, it's worth the extra effort to catch him, set him up in a small tank of his own (where you can "concentrate" the food for him), and provide a regular quantity of amphipods for him to prey upon. You should do some research and learn how to culture amphipods in quantity, You can obtain good starter cultures from Indo Pacific Sea Farms in Kona, or Inland Aquatics. If you can get a good culture of these animals going, you could maintain the Scooter Dragonet (actually a dragonet- not a blenny!) for regular life span!> I haven't yet seen any Bristleworms or any other small critters in my tank. I feed daily with a variety of foods but I always include either Mysis or brine shrimp (yes, I know it's low nutritional value but he has trouble with the size of the Mysis sometimes) for him. I see people selling baby Bristleworms for Scooter Blenny/Mandarin food and was wondering if buying some of these an introducing them to my tank would be a good idea? <Can't hurt....Amphipods really seem to be the better, preferred food, IME> I don't want to do this unless I know they'll be the right thing for him because I've heard horror stories about people with Bristleworms in their tanks. My other option would be hatching live brine shrimp or feeding decapsulated BS eggs (I have both on hand) but I worry about them not providing enough nutrition for him and/or the live ones causing problems in my system. <Brine shrimp are fine as an occasional supplement, but really don't have sufficient nutritional value for long-term maintenance of these fish. Try the amphipods, and see if you can wean him to frozen Mysis, particularly the enriched kind. These guys are rather slow feeders, which is another "strike" against them, as far as inclusion in a community set up is concerned, in my opinion> Any suggestions? Thanks for the help! Patricia <As above. A little extra effort and TLC on your part can save the little guy and help him live a long, healthy life! Good luck! Scott F>

Do mandarins require any special feedings? << Very possibly... the common species need plenty of live food, supplied on an almost continuous basis... typically I suggest about four square feet of bottom space per specimen, of a well-aged, live rock and sand set-up... You'll be able to see yours getting thin if it's not eating enough... and most all of these fishes do die from starvation... They can/will take even live freshwater fish foods... so this is one avenue to try... otherwise, setting up a refugium in the tank or a sump (directions to these can be found on my site: www.wetwebmedia.com... which in turn will direct you elsewhere...)can provide some needed live food culture. Bob Fenner>>

Mail Order Amphipods & Copepods Hi Bob: I have a Mandarin (goby) fish that I just got about a week ago. The books say that they eat amphipods and copepods. I had heard that there was a mail order place somewhere in Florida that you could order these to start a ready supply. Could you please give me any info you have on these fish and where I might be able to find food to stock my reef tank?  Thanks again, Jill << It's probably Florida Aqua Farms... but cannot just respond with this... there is little hope for keeping Mandarins in anything other than fully established, well-maintained reef systems... with plenty of room (four square feet per specimen) and possibly accompanying refugiums for growing more interstitial fauna for food... These fishes do need live food, lots of it, and offered on a continuous basis... Bob Fenner>>

Flourishing Mandarin ? An update on my mandarin, she is still kicking around the tank and I can honestly say she is flourishing! She eats brine shrimp, zooplankton, flake foods, and really seems to love blood worms. When it's feeding time I turn off the powerhead and she sits on top of it waiting for her squirt of food. She'll eat the worms first and then what ever is left. She's just to cutest little lady. I just wanted others to know that with the right set up it's possible to keep one until it learns to eat dead stuff.  <my friend, you misunderstand with this species as so many aquarists do about challenging fish. The concern is not that they will not eat captive foods, but that they will not survive long term on them. Pinnatus batfish will eat brine shrimp until the cows come home... and they will still die like clockwork within a year. I'm delighted to hear that your mandarin is so agreeable to prepared foods... but it would not be fair to pass it along to other aquarists as proof or reassurance that such success is easily replicable or even likely to get this fish to even the two year mark (well short of its natural lifespan). The argument is that even if with such fish you can meet 99% of their nutritional need as found in the wild (copepods, etc)... there is still a 1% net daily deficit in the diet that WILL catch up to you. So instead of the fish dying of apparent attrition in a matter of weeks/months... it dies "mysteriously" (deficiency) in months/years short of the natural lifespan. Forgive me, not a direct criticism of you... your dedication and success does seem to be exceptional from the many aquarists I have talked to in over a decade... but the masses need this information to serve the greater good. The last thing this industry needs is encouragement to casual aquarists to buy more mandarins> Of course my lady may have just been very adaptable, though she got very skinny, after about the first two months she did learn to chase down brine shrimp, and then other things. I also have a very large copepod population, though I have never seen her eat them, I have seen my six-line wrasse hunt them down on several occasions. The mandarin was truly the only reason I wanted a saltwater tank, thus I researched, waited for a healthy specimen and somehow it worked. Thanks again for all your help in keeping my tank going. Kim <my dear, I totally agree. It was a mandarin that got me into the hobby as well. I hope you to hear from you in the future with a story of a old Mandarinfish that spawns for your <smile>. Kindly, Anthony>

Feeding Mandarins I have a success!!!! I would like to pass on that I have figured out a way to supplement feed a mandarin dragonet. I purchased her three weeks ago, against better judgment and your advice, and have been carefully watching her since. She has noticeably lost weight but a week ago began eating flake food and brine shrimp with gusto...though with no gain in weight. A few days ago I began to feed her with a eyedropper hoping to kill a little of the competition. She didn't shy away as all the other fish did, but she still had to stare at the food before she ate it and this was very time consuming on both our parts. Well yesterday I noticed that she liked to check out the sponge that I put over the top powerhead to keep it from sucking too much junk in during feeding time. It is a fine sponge so that nothing real big gets in, like brine shrimp....and that is what she was doing. She has been picking food off all this time, probably what kept her going. Well when I noticed this yester day I began to squirt some food onto the sponge deliberately and she has been going to town ever since! I think that she has even gained a little flesh back! It has only been two days so I am not sure but it seems to be working well. There is a lot of live rock in there and that didn't seem to help as much as this....partially because the shrimp holds still and no other fish picks the food off, so no competition. I am so excited. I will keep you updated if you wish and let you know if this really works. Thanks, Kim <Congratulations. Hope you continue to have success. Bob Fenner>

Scooter Blenny Death Hi, I had a scooter blenny in my 30 gallon tank for about six weeks he was doing fine and then when I woke up yesterday he was belly up dead. What could have happened. He didn't show any unusual behavior or lack of energy that would have concerned me. I just don't know what could have happened. Thank you. <You are not giving us much to go on, but I can tell you that Scooter Blennies have the same feeding requirements as Mandarins. They are difficult to keep alive long-term and a 30 gallon tank is not big enough, IMO. You can find out more about these fish starting with this link and the following FAQ files, http://www.wetwebmedia.com/mandarins.htm -Steven Pro>

Mandarin My mandarin goby is laying on the bottom of the tank and has quit eating. Is there anything in particular they like to eat?  <Yes... live, small crustaceans and various types of worms that grow in the substrate. Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/mandarins.htm and the FAQs files beyond> I bought Zooplankton, Phytoplankton, micro invertebrate food, flake food and frozen brine shrimp. Could lowering the phosphates levels quickly do damage to this delicate fish? <Depending on how this is done, yes> My tank is a 55 gallon with about 40 lbs of live rock, 2 filters one of them has a protein skimmer. My Ph level is 8.2, my temp. is 78, there are no nitrates or nitrites, calcium is 400 ppm and I've dropped the phosphate down to around .05 in an attempt to eliminate an algae problem. What should I do???? <Study, look for other live food sources, perhaps Mysid shrimp, and in the long term perhaps add a live sump (refugium)... Bob Fenner>

Scooters Hey guys, <Scott F. your guy today!> 1. I'm worried about my scooters- I've tried Caulerpa, we've got good algae and copepods, but I guess not enough- they don't take anything and only seem to feed off the live rock and substrate-crushed coral- feeding advice? <I have a scooter in my system for almost 2 years, and I rarely see him take food. He's fat and happy, though, and I believe that he spends most of his time hunting down copepods, etc. out of the live rock. Now, just because mine is doing this, it doesn't mean that yours will, too-but if they look okay, I wouldn't worry. You could try "target feeding" them some frozen Mysis once in a while.> Thank you. < Good Luck! Scott F.>

Mandarins, Lighting, and Figuring Volume Hello there, I really enjoy your site...very informative. I've told the only other friend that I have that's into fish about you guys (and gals?). Hopefully he'll find it as rewarding as I have so far. You've answered questions regarding my 55 gallon tank, thank you. I have a ten gallon tank with about 7 lbs of live rock, 4 flower anemones, 3 purple mushrooms, 1 white mushroom, a peppermint shrimp, and some snails and blue legged hermits. I have a mandarin (I know the tank is too small, not enough rock) that's been eating live brine for a few months and I will move him to the 55g when I have enough rock in there...hopefully 50-70lbs. Is that enough rock? <Please search WWM regarding brine shrimp and Mandarins to find the answers to your questions. I will give you a hint, you won't like the answers.> Thanks, Randy M. Yniguez, MA <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Mandarin Madness? Here goes nothing, hope whoever gets this is in a good mood (lol) <It's late, it's quiet, I ate a good dinner- I'm in a good mood! Scott F. here> I've spent literally hundreds of hours the past two weeks (mostly on your magnificent site) researching what I wanna do and just wanted to ask for some advice or death threats if needed lol. <We'll avoid the threats!> My wife is a preschool teacher and they recommend keeping some kind of aquarium in there classroom during the year, I asked her what she wanted and unfortunately she has her heart set on a 10 gal nano with a few pieces of LR and a green mandarin dragonet. Before you call the hit squad, I've read that they are hard to keep fed in a larger system and I don't want this guy to starve. So I'm planning on farming some live rock of my own in a 55 gallon tank. If I weekly scoop out 10-20 lb. of the substrate and sift it for cop/bristles, etc., to feed the dragonet. I was thinking of a sand bed about 7-8 inches deep and starting it out with a sand bed starter kit of all the necessary critters for a 100gal tank. <IMO, your approach to the feeding issue for this fish is quite logical and sound. However, I'd still prefer to see the fish in a larger aquarium, maybe a 20 gal or larger. Environmental stability is the other issue with these, or any fish, and in a 10 gal tank, particularly in a classroom setting the potential for all kinds of problems (i.e.; temperature fluctuations, high "traffic", little hands in the tank, etc.) is greatly magnified. Your (or her) husbandry for this tank needs to be impeccable. A 10 gal tank with rock and sand will hold less than 10 gallons, of course, which means that you really have to stay on top of maintenance!> So now that you probably think I'm completely out of my mind, and that my wife is completely spoiled, here's my questions: 1. What could I feed my farm tank to increase the population of the critters, since there wont be any fish/inverts to contribute dentifrice? <I'd just feed some dried foods and maybe add a little macroalgae, like Ulva or Chaetomorpha. Coarse substrates have been proven to encourage the growth of amphipods, and slightly finer substrates favor copepods.> 2. How often do you think I might have to purchase more critter kits. <Well, you might just need to purchase several to start out, then provide good conditions for their growth, monitor the population, and add more kits if needed down the line> 3. Do you think its possible to keep a dragonet amply fed this way? and if not is there a method you think would work? <In theory, sure- but keep in mind that you must regularly harvest and feed these animals in suitable quantities to maintain this fish. This is why these fish are better kept in larger, mature systems that have an established, abundant quantity of these animals for the mandarin to forage in a natural manner.> 4. The rhetorical question: do ya really think I need psychiatric help?...lol <No more than I do. Wait- that's not good...> Again I offer my thanks (and maybe even a sacrifice if it would help) <Do consider the points mentioned here. I'm not saying that this can't be done, just that it will be a lot more difficult than you might think. Your approach to cultivating food is interesting and worthwhile, but do consider the effort required. Good luck!> Shawn King

Mandarin tip This is more for people who need info about mandarins and not a question- <Okay... thanks for the input> I've just recently gotten comfortable with keeping a mandarin. They have a pretty high mortality rate due to improper feeding. They eat mostly copepods (the little 'bugs' in your tank). I've had one for almost three months and its doing swell. I had a nice sized copepod population in my 125gal which was quickly eaten by the mandarin. needless to say I was a bit nervous. Since then I've been slacking on getting some more copepods (which you can buy pre cultured at inland aquatics, http://inlandaquatics.com/prod/products.html) which is nice. Anyways I've found out that they will eat roe as well. Try using small roe like smelt roe or whatnot (roe are fish eggs, the little orange balls in your sushi). I've found that a good mix of roe and copepods make for a very healthy mandarin. Don't take my word on this, but I bet that one could keep more than one per tank if fed roe and lots of cultured copepods. the only problem is that the copepods are a bit expensive, try looking into culturing your own. well, it was fun stealing your spotlight Bob/Lorenzo but it was about time I gave a little knowledge instead of taking it. Thanks, Jon Trowbridge <Thank you for sharing my friend. Bob Fenner>

Mandarin (et al.) question(s) I read over your Mandarin FAQ.  <Hopefully we can add to it here> I have a 30 gallon reef tank, with 40 lbs of live rock, three Chromis and a clown, cleaner shrimp, had a wrasse (I have not seen him in like a week, I think he wasted away, unfortunately I did not know about your website before buying him), <Ah, glad we have found each other> and the cause of this email a mandarin. I have a protein skimmer and a set of power compacts. Anyway, I actually have two questions. The first one is concerning the mandarin, I read the FAQ and I see that the mandarins eat copepods, well here is my question, within putting the mandarin in my tank it only took him like 4 days to wipe out all the copepods. <Yes, a thirty alone is too small to support one of these fishes...> My tank has been up for like 4 months now. Do the mandarins eat live amphipods (Gammarus)?  I can't seem to find any place that sells copepods.  <They can eat many species of small crustaceans, worms... Do check the "Links Page" on our site and contact "Inland Aquatics"... they have many cultures, information also on growing your own... Perhaps an attached sump/refugium is in your Callionymids future> I have a tank on the side ready to breed copepods but I think that will take too long and I don't want the little guy to die on me. Well thanks for you help in advance. <Be chatting my new friend. Bob Fenner> Alfredo Carrion

Mandarin I have a small Mandarin who seems to be extremely under weight.  <Yikes, not good... leading cause of loss with these fishes: starvation> He seems to have stopped eating at least while I am watching where before he ate pretty well. I didn't realize just how thin he was until I saw another at the pet store and saw how fat it was. They told me to soak live brine shrimp in vitamins and use a turkey baster to get it down to him. Is this correct?  <Mmm, well more than just brine shrimp...> Is there anything additional I can do for him? He has 8 pieces of live rock, an anemone, a urchin, a yellow tang, a damsel, and a clown fish. All of the water levels test out well. <Well, ideally you would have a large-enough, well-established live sand bed, possibly an additional refugium type sump with even more life (especially small worms, various types of crustaceans) to grant this Callionymid sources of constant forage. Please read: http://WetWebMedia.com/mandarins.htm and the FAQs after it. Bob Fenner>

Aiptasia Thanks Robert for your very informative article about Aiptasia. I have several of these in my tank. I have a mandarin and wonder if mandarin will eat them?  <No... unfortunately there is a chance of exactly the opposite. The Aiptasia can/might eat the Mandarin> If not, then I will get peppermint shrimp. I cannot get Nudibranch because I will not have other food available for it. Thanks!!! Christine, the mother of two cowfishes, mandarin, and two mollies <How nice. Be chatting. Bob Fenner>

Growing Pains Hello Bob, Sorry to ask another question so soon but I am a little panicked. I think I need to find a new pet store. As mentioned in my other question, I have recently bought a Coral Beauty, Gold-banded Butterfly, and a Mandarin Goby. The salesperson at the fish store told me that all will do well with a variety of frozen and flake foods. I had a Mandarin Goby in the past that did take to some frozen foods. Tonight I read over previous questions and answers regarding these fish on WetWebMedia and am beginning to think I am in over my head. Clearly, I should have researched these fish more before buying. <Always the best way to go about buying anything.> I trusted the advice of someone I'm beginning to think only cares about making a buck. The store had 4 or 5 of these awesome creatures and apparently sells them regularly. I've only had the fish a couple of days, but the only thing I see them doing is pecking at the 35 pounds or so of live rock in my 45 gallon high tank. <Not unusual. Actually to be expected.> The rock was added over the period of a year and is probably full of things they like, but I am worried about how long they can sustain pecking on this rock. <The problem is that they will compete against one another for available food and eventually exhaust the supply.> I tried a clamp that is supposed to entice the fish into eating frozen foods with no luck. Normally I wouldn't be so concerned since they were just added, but after reading the testimony of others I am very worried. Do you have any suggestions? <Taking them back may be your best option or finding another hobbyist who can care for these creatures.> Thanks again. David <Steven Pro>

More mandarins... Hi Bob, <Anthony Calfo here in your service> This is the first time I've written anyone in reference to my tank. <very good to hear from you> I have a 30 gallon reef tank with 6 fish. Today one of my fish died and I did not know if I should disturb the balance of the tank by moving the live rock to get to his body of leave him in there for fish food. Could you help.  <if the fish is smaller like a goby or damsel... I'm sure it would serve the tank better to leave it for the natural scavengers to consume... but if the fish was rather large like a yellow tang, there will be too much dissolved material for traditional nutrient export processes to handle in a short period of time> I also have a Mandarin Goby and I wonder why I never see him eat. What could I give him to make him happy? <Maurya, much has been written on this subject... please look back through the FAQs on this site and beyond. In a nutshell, however... it is a statistical fact that your Mandarinfish will die in you 30gallon tank within a year if not months to dietary deficiency. There is no prepared food that will sustain the species in a tank that small without a refugium and natural plankton. Please do the fish the honor and respect for a chance at living a useful life in captivity by researching its needs and then finding a proper home for it. Essentially, a large mature reef tank (over one year old minimum) preferably with fishless refugium. Otherwise, you are looking at the simple but tedious daily task of hatching fresh live rotifers (no brine please... it will still starve on them if frozen). Best of luck to you, Anthony>

RE: psychedelic mandarin Thank you for the quick response. <quite welcome> I hope Robert got his film....but didn't have the pain of Montezuma's revenge. <the tongue in cheek irony is that Bob really is away in sunny Cancun Mexico... and although Bob is hardly a first time Mexico tourist... you cannot predict how water will run...hehe. But have faith... Bob has a strategy for dysentery in far countries... he sanitizes his stomach with alcohol. He says if you always keep beer in your tummy... then you have no worries (I'm sure!)> I've had my mandarin for almost a year. Simon's (that's his/her name) belly gets really big when he/she eats. I'm almost afraid it'll explode. <outstanding!> :-) I don't know the difference between brine shrimp soaked in Selcon vs. regular brine. Is there a vitamin supplement I can give the brine shrimp to make them more nutritious? <yes... called Selcon (keep refrigerated)... it is an excellent way to gut load brine with lipids/fatty acids to keep your mandarin in peak form> I think I have that book....if not, I will be buying it tonight. :-) <excellent... best regards to you. Anthony> thanks again. Janelle

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