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Mandarin Stocking/Selection FAQs 

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

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

Is it eating?

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

Is this a male or female goby ?      11/18/14
Is this a male or female.. Thank you
<Appears to be the latter; males usually have an elongated, pointed dorsal fin. Bob Fenner>

Mandarin Goby Requirements. Stkg.       5/24/14
Hope you are all doing well today!
<Yes; thank you>
I wanted to write you because I want your opinion on adding a Mandarin Dragonet to my very peaceful 120 gallon reef aquarium.
This tank has been up and running for over 2.5 years and has a an refugium/sump under its setup, is jammed with live rock, and is lightly stocked with 6 peaceful fish (a pair of ocellaris clowns, 1 yellow tang, 1 red
hooded fairy wrasse, one candy Basslet, and a diamond watchman goby
<These last two may not get along w/ the Mandarin>

that all get along great). I would love to add a mandarin to the system, but it has to be a situation where the mandarin lives off of the natural fauna in the tank as I am not willing to cater to this fish by trying to train it onto other foods.
<Mmm; I'd plan on having to supplement here. Even if the refugium is large, luxurious in food production>
I am being completely honest here, that is why I am writing you this note, because if it won't work this way, I will not get the fish.
I see many, many copepods on the tank glass, particularly by the weeks end when some diatom algae has accumulated on the glass before I clean it. I see them in the sump everywhere as well. I also see many of these "spaghetti" type worms in the substrate that look like white threads. This well established, thriving reef tank. I want one mandarin as my last fish, but not if it will only starve slowly over time. I am writing to see if
you feel my system can support the mandarin in the way it is set up.
Thanks in advance for any feedback you can give me.
Very best,
<Well; you'll be able to see/observe the fish getting thinner... but no fun trying to catch it out... perhaps it can/will reside in the 'fuge? Bob Fenner>
Re: Mandarin Goby Requirements    5/24/14
Hi Bob,
<Ave Dez>
I don't think that I would be happy if the mandarin had to live in the refugium. I want to see the beautiful little guy!
<Ah yes>
So hard to know if one could work in my system. Such a difficult fish to maintain. And yet, other's do it with so little forethought and the animal thrives...
<Always some gamble>
Is my tank as "mature" as it is going to get, or would waiting longer be to my benefit?
<Would be better if the system were actually smaller. Have you gone over the mat.s archived on WWM re Callionymids? BobF>
Re: Mandarin Goby Requirements    5/24/14

Hi Bob,
Smaller, really? Wow, that I did not expect...
<... easier to feed, observe>
Yes, I have been reading all the archives and articles on this fish on the WWM site. Such great information there.
<Ah yes; mainly from folks like you, me... asking and relating to each other over the years>
Ok, bottom line...would you throw the dice if you were me or leave this fish to better odds...
<A tough one. IF I really wanted to try... I would get two... likely a male and female... and btw, I would add a couple more Velvets... B>

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

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

Dragonet stkg./sel.     2/3/12
Dear WWM,
   My tank is finally back on track. Corals are doing well, fish are also well, and, I started the quarantine tank (Currently has one clown in it.)
The question I have is regarding adding a new fish. I currently have a 55 gal. with a Four-Stripe Damsel,
<The alpha fish... keep your eye on it for signs of dire territoriality toward other fishes>

Yellow Watchman Goby, Pistol Shrimp,
Scarlet Shrimp, 20 Blue Leg Hermits, two Hawaiian Feather Dusters, one Bubble Coral, one Torch Coral, one Duncan Coral with two polyps, one Serpent Star,
<May be predaceous>

 colony of at least 10 red crowned feather dusters that came attached to the Duncan, two Emerald Crabs,
<These too>

 and in another one/two weeks a Percula Clown. I have noticed a large population of small crustaceans that are between 2.5mm and 7mm. I have also seen small under 1mm white specks on the glass that are clearly moving around.
<Not problematical>
I have about 25 pounds of Live Rock and about 3.5 inches of sand/crushed coral. The tank has been doing really well for the past 8 months. I would like to added a few more fish to what I already have, a Gramma, a few Chromis, and a Dragonet.
<May have to remove the Dascyllus>
The pet store in town sells what are called Scooter Blennies, I know these are Synchiropus stellatus. I was wanting a Synchiropus splendidus but I don't think the system is large enough to produce the food it would need.
<Perhaps add a refugium>
Would the system produce enough for the Synchiropus stellatus?
<Should, yes>
Also, my quarantine tank does not have this huge population of crustaceans in it, so, should I try and syphon them in or something?
<Good idea>
Should I add more live rock to the system?
 This wouldn't happen for a while in the future so feel free to take your time responding. Have a great day!
<And you. BobF>

mandarin's together    11/22/11
As far as I can see online, a green mandarin goby (dragonet) isn't compatible living with a spotted one, but my LFS has them together in a small tank, he said the only issue was with competition for Pods, and
as long as one of them was ORA or both were,
<Well... more likely to be easier going if cultured vs. wild-collected>
they could get along fine together, seeing that everything online i have seen says other wise i am thinking he just has a weird couple, or is this actually normal?
<And much more likely to get along if only one is male, or both female. Bob Fenner>

Female spotted mandarin?    11/12/11
My fish store recently did an order through ORA and actually picked up two spotted mandarins. I decided to buy both seeing as I am fairly sure I know how to sex them (the owner was clueless and purchased them as individuals as opposed to a pair),
<Okay... most folks do just buy these species of Callionymids as single...
Most collected are males, due to their greater beauty, demand in places/times... oh, and their greater ease of "shooting" with a small spear>
I have done lots of research on them, and they were only $35 each. They are following each other around and there is no biting (except the "female" may have nipped him lightly once or twice). I just wanted to double check that this is a female?
<The photo is exceedingly poor; I've done what I can to spiff it up... but does appear to be a female to me, or an immature male>
I know for a fact that the other is a male: he has the "signature" longish spike. He is more of an olive/brown, brighter body coloration while she's a dull gray/green color and his face and turquoise color are a bit brighter. The only thing that concerns me is that when I look at pictures of female spotted mandarins online, the dorsal fin is almost "circular" in shape. While her dorsal fin is certainly small and does not have a "sickle" at the end like the male, it does look like a triangle. I'll post a picture (sorry for the blue only coloration...they were more willing to be out and when I changed my lighting to actinic). Do you think it's a female? Thanks!
<Cheers, Bob Fenner>
Photo: http://img16.imageshack.us/img16/5136/femalemandarin.jpg

Tank raised Mandarins 10/19/2011
Dear WWM,
was wondering if you have had any feedback on the ORA Tank Raised Mandarins in terms of success rate and sustainability of these fish in home aquaria.
<I do. In fact I have a blanket statement to make period re ORA's aquaculture livestock; it's excellent. Careful stock selection, feeding... by them result in organisms FAR more likely to not survive, but thrive>
According to ORA, these fish have been trained to eat prepared foods such as New Life Spectrum Pellets and Nutramar Ova.
<This is so>
Spectrum Pellets are a mainstay in my tank, but it just seems too good to be true with this notoriously difficult to feed fish (barring natural food resources in adequately sized/stocked/aged tanks). Any thoughts?
<Am a HUGE fan of Spectrum... Pablo Tepoot is a dear friend, but there is nothing I've found to match his excellent food for palatability and complete nutrition. I have seen MANY "impossible" species greedily feed, be maintained... for years... on nothing but Spectrum>
Very best,
Laura Garmizo
<Do read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/SpectrumFoodsF.htm
Cheers, Bob Fenner>
Re: Tank raised Mandarins 10/19/2011

Dear Bob,
This is amazing to hear! Picture this...I get an ORA Spotted Tank Raised
Mandarin for my lightly stocked 120 gallon reef tank and throw the usual pinch of Spectrum Pellets in to feed every day and this fish thrives?
<Believe it or not till experience changes your mind>
I only feed New Life Spectrum Pellets. My fish have flourished on this for several years.
<I have used it exclusively since its inception>
I have no issue spending the required money and time to obtain one of ORA's carefully bred mandarins, but only if this animal can really have every need met in my tank, and that is where feeding is the make or break factor.
<Well... of course there needs to be not-so-rambunctious tankmates...>
If he will really eat Spectrum Pellets, there would be no issue. I am hoping he would get enough, but several scatter throughout the rockwork/sandbed that he could find.
No kidding? Sorry for the disbelief, but the dismal survival rate of these beautiful fish in captivity has made them little more than a dream for me!
<Cheers, BobF>
Re: Tank raised Mandarins 10/20/2011

Hi Bob,
You have really made my day! I am grateful to the people at ORA for making this beautiful fish a reality for me to keep. They have truly broken through obstacles that I never thought could be overcome when it comes to housing certain animals in my system.
Thanks for the wonderful news and I look forward to getting my first ORA Tank Raised Mandarin!!!
<Welcome. B>

questions about Mandarin Fish, stkg./sel.   5/3/11
Hi there from British Columbia.
<Hey Cyn>
I have been reading your website articles and Q&A for years, and I think you'all are the greatest.
I would like to ask some questions about Mandarinfish or different species of the Genus Synchiropus. I am planning a 1st reef aquarium, and I am trying to do my homework beforehand and avoid a lot of costly beginner mistakes. Costly in terms of death of tank inhabitants. I have 15 years experience with FW aqs. and breeding Cyphotilapia frontosa (and selling to LFS). I want to plan my tank around making the Mandarinfish thrive and be happy. I know they have a dismal record of survival in home aquariums. I know you don't recommend them.
<Actually, like the Beatles song, "It's getting better all the time">
My questions are, if you assume a 200-240 gallon aq. with the best possible parameters, with a large upstream fuge teeming with pods and a DT crawling with pods, that has been stable for a year, a large sump with all the right equipment tuned up right, and LR arranged with lots of hidey holes, alleys and valleys, and privacy, with nothing in the tank that would compete with them for food or harass them, how many pairs of Mandarinfish do you think could live happily in there?
<Mmm, two, three... could have more females>
and should they all be the same species or could I have a couple of pairs of different Synchiropus species?
<Best to be one of the popular species... more interesting behaviors>
And last, would the existence of any clams bother them, and would I be able to have any of the usual "clean-up" crew?
<Could have both>
I know clams often require a fair amount of light, but I think there are some that don't require as much......correct me if I'm wrong.....
<This is so>
Thank you so much,
Cynthia on Vancouver Island
<Shades of Ed Ricketts "Outer Shore"... a wonderful place for natural history. Cheers, Bob Fenner>

Cardinalfish and Mandarin Addition (some consideration needed here) -- 10/12/10
<<Hiya Steve>>
I was glancing online at Cardinalfish for sale, and came across this species, Fowleria flammea (common name is the "red stop light cardinal"). I looked for more information on WWM, but was unable to find anything.
<<Does appear to be absent'¦though it is listed on fishbase: http://fishbase.org/Summary/speciesSummary.php?ID=25073&genusname=Fowleria&speciesname=flammea&AT=Fowleria+flammea&lang=English >>
I was curious if you knew much about the species
<<I do believe this is the first I have seen/heard of it>>
and if their care was similar to other cardinal species?
<<I would expect it to be very similar to other like species, yes>>
From the pictures, this appears to be a colorful fish; the site recommends a small group can be kept together and will form a "strict hierarchy".
<<I would agree>>
I am interested in possibly adding a group of these fish to my 90g reef aquarium (130lbs LR, 120lbs LS). Current residents include a small purple tang, small Copperband butterfly, pair of ocellaris clowns, royal gramma, and a lawnmower blenny. I would like to add a mandarin dragonet in the future as well.
<<Not a good mix in this volume with the Blenny>>
The tank has been up for one year, and all parameters are within normal limits (0 nitrate/nitrite/ammonia/phosphates, spg 1.024,
<<This is 'ok'--though I prefer to see a higher reading closer to NSW values (1.026)>>
temp 77, pH 8.2). I have a few frags of SPS, LPS, and softies, and a 2" maxima clam. I always see a ton of amphipods roaming the rock at night; this leads me to believe I may be ready for a mandarin. (Maybe?)
<<Still best to find one that will accept prepared foods (frozen Mysis, etc.)--rarely does a system of this size provide enough natural foodstuffs for these fish>>
I was originally interested in a group of blue-green chromis (Chromis viridis) but came across these cardinals.
<<The Cardinals are a better choice--less likely to 'self-destruct' in a system of this size, in my opinion>>
Would a small group of chromis get along ok in this size of aquarium (with these tankmates)?
<<I don't think they would be a 'group' for long. Even in tanks twice the size of yours, I have seen groupings of Chromis slowly dwindle from the imposed 'stresses of the hierarchy'>>
Or should I keep looking more in the Cardinalfish direction?
<<This would be my choice here>>
Or could I even have both?
<<Not in my opinion--I think both species would suffer in this instance>>
I am wanting some "colorful" eye-catching fish that like to swim in the water column.
<<Not uncommon--just unfortunate that this is usually an afterthought to system design/stocking>>
Please advise if this would over-stock my tank (or if it is already). Also, any suggestions for peaceful, colorful schooling fish are great too!
<<I don't think it's so much a matter of stocking density here as it is species selection. A group of five small Cardinalfishes could 'fit' here in my estimation, but the boisterous Tang and territorial Clowns and Blenny may prove problematic in this volume. I'm not saying the Cardinals won't work out here, and I do think they are your best choice in this situation (as opposed to Flasher Wrasses, Anthiines, etc.) But as alluded earlier, systems with 'peaceful, colorful schooling fish' really need to be designed around these fish for the best chance at long term success>>
Thanks again for your help,
<<Happy to share'¦ EricR>>
P.S. One last question - do you foresee a problem keeping a mandarin with the lawnmower blenny?
<<I do'¦ The Blenny's 'territory' will be most if not all of your rockwork (apart from what the clowns may have staked out)--and will defend it vigorously, even viciously, from other 'bottom dwelling' fishes>>
The blenny has been in the tank for ~6-7 months and has gotten quite large (5"). He's a little snippy towards the butterfly if the butterfly starts grazing near "his spot".
<<Indeed'¦ It's your decision, but I would not add a Mandarin to this system. EricR>> 

Would like to keep a pair or three mandarins   3/27/10
Dear Crew,
I would like to keep a pair of mandarins, or three as I've read maybe two females and a male might work better.
<Can, yes>
I've got a 110 gallon tank and intent
to have a 20 gallon refugium for 'pod production. I'll also have a 30 gallon refugium for sea horses and other sensitive creatures that would not survive in the main display, a 20 gallon cryptic tank and 15 gallon sump with a DSB. I've got a 46 gallon tank free at the moment, but could add it as additional sump space or as another refugium.
<All sounds good>
To my question: If I intend to feed 3 mandarins through with a refugium dedicated to 'pod production how big will the refugium need to be?
<"The bigger the better"... other qualities are important as well... e.g. the amount and quality of live rock, algae, lighting...>
Also, as a follow up is a 110 gallon tank big enough for three mandarins?
Would 150 pounds of live rock provide enough hunting ground for the mandarins?
<Likely so... if there is a dearth of competing predators for the small life there>
I've got plenty of time, so how long should I establish the system before I start searching for the mandarins I like?
<A few months>
Anything better to add to the system than other? (fish, inverts) What should I not add?
<All sorts... Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/mandcompfaqs.htm
and the linked files above>
Thank you, Erick
<Welcome! Bob Fenner>

Green mandarin, chewed    12/7/09
Hi there I have a 75 gal reef tank 30 gallon sump 6 months old. It has 3 PJ cardinals, 5 chromis, 1 yellow tang, 2 cleaner shrimp. When I started my tank I seed the live sand from three tanks. From 15 feet
away you could see pod shells in the tank they were big.
I decided to get a green mandarin (*tank was 6 month old).he was doing well within hours hunting for pods and a little elusive. Day two he looked great .had a bit of sand on his tail but hey he wanders on the bottom sometimes. Day three he seemed to be missing some of the flesh between the bones in his tail kept an eye on him.
<Eaten, beaten. Needs to be removed, STAT!>
Day four all the flesh was gone off his tail and had a with spot which appeared to be a missing piece of skin, it was white. I put him in the sump and he lasted another 12 hours. I wanted to get an other but wondered if you have
seen or heard of this before. I will add a couple of pictures. Thanks for reading Paul
<What's that saying? With a twang like Jeff, the Dude's alter-ego:
"Sometimes you eat the bar, and sometimes the bar eats you"... Summat has chewed this Mandarin to bits... could be your "pods"... I would not place another Callionymid here. Bob Fenner>

Two male mandarin dragonettes in my tank, sys., selection    10/4/08 I have a 200 gallon 3 year old reef tank, full of live rock and a hang on refugium solely to breed copepods. I went to the LFS and bought a pair of "mated" mandarins. To make a long story short, they are both males. <Ooops!> I have spent the last 1/2 hour trying to get one of them. <Yikes... having spent considerable time underwater trying to film Callionymoids spawning (in and amongst arborose stony corals...) I can sympathize...> I've probably knocked over and killed several corals and disrupted my tank. I just can't get one of them. Is there any way two males can live together or will they fight to the death? <Oh! Can, and actually do live in mixed sex groupings in the wild... in such thickets... In a system of this size, you may well be able to simply add a female or three... and all get along fine, be very interesting during "sunset" most nights... Bob Fenner>

Re: Mandarins... sel.   1/25/07 Since they are so difficult to keep, then why are the fish themselves cheap and frequently available from what I see? <Because as with anything else marketed to the public....people will buy it/them.> Couldn't we be hurting the population  of these fish since their life expectancy in the aquarium is so  low? <It's possible.....sad yes, AJ.>

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

Pairing Mandarins   6/1/06 Hi,   We have a 230 gallon DSB reef with a 50 gallon refugium and an extremely fat male green mandarin.  We also have a copepod culture.        We had a bad experience buying a male and female at the same time.  The female's tummy was sunken (we didn't realize it when we bought her) and she was never able to gain weight even though she seemed to eat copepods throughout the day. <Not uncommon> The male did scare her occasionally, but she would go back to hunting after a few minutes.  Anyway, she unfortunately disappeared a few weeks back (I am sure it was lack of nutrition - we even supplemented copepods which she ate readily, but nothing seemed to help her gain).  I don't want to make another mistake.  If we try to get him another mate, I will make sure she is very fat to start with.      On that note, we have a few questions:   1)  We've read that you should get more than one female if you have a male and they are not paired.  I am sure the tank can support 2 more - but don't completely understand the logic.  Please let us know if it is safer to get more than one and any details you can share.    <Can support more than two... on the basis of size of the system, refugium... this species is not "paired" in the wild... males, females reproduce opportunistically... "meet up" in Staghorn (Acropora) thickets toward evening...>   2)  Also read in a couple of places to get a female that is smaller than the male (or at least not larger).  Any light you can shed on this would also be appreciated.    <Size not important IME>   And of course - any other words of wisdom always welcome!   Thanks!   Doug <Enjoy the process, animals. Bob Fenner>

Mandarin - making a small difference -Thank you  - 04/10/2006 I recently changed LFS b/c they sold me a mandarin who was very skinny...(at the time I did not know what to look for).  <Not uncommon> I wrote you previously under my home email address about the caring for my mandarin who, at the time, had a white spot which heeled using your advise... I went back to this store  yesterday for supplies and noticed several mandarins, all of which were FAT, I mean really FAT (and healthy) <Probably won't stay that was at LFS either>, so I guess a little bit of complaining  goes a long way (actually I complained to every fish guy in the place)...they say that they are also alerting people as to their continued care which I couldn't confirm (but can hope). The new LFS I use now has fat/healthy mandarins and I did test them about the care and they got it right   So two down, thousands more to go.  I don't plan to buy another one, but plan to continue to lobby the cause to my LFSs.  I just wanted to alert you guys that word is spreading. No reply is necessary.  <I'll reply anyway.  It's always outstanding to be able to make a difference, and major kudos to you for making it happen.  However, this isn't a trend you're likely to see.  Because these little guys require such an established reef system to supply their food source many times they starve at the LFS (or soon after someone purchases them) but its great to see a good start, right?  Great job, Jen S.> Colleen Boyle

Re: Psychotic Purple Firefish? Mandarin in a 29 and terrestrial/marine rock use. - 2/28/2006 Dear Bob, <?it> I read your "nano" article, which more or less convinced me that saltwater is not a hobby (or calling) for a 7 year old--but as the Russian proverb is supposed to go, "once you have said A, you have to say B" :)  So we shall chug along with the 29 gallon until the lottery hits and we step up to the 150 gallon. <Heeee!> In the meantime, two questions, which absolutely do not need immediate attention--if you can pick them up at your leisure, I will be grateful. First: I read an article by Marc Levenson in Reefkeeping magazine  ( http://www.reefkeeping.com/issues/2005-02/nftt/index.php ) which inspired me to do the following:  one LFS has a blue (green?) mandarin that looks pretty well-fed.  So I made a deal with the guy--he will try to feed prepared foods to the mandarin and if they are consumed, I will own the fish in a fortnight. <... for the 29 gallon system? Not a good gamble... too likely to starve there> If the fish does not eat and/or seems to lose weight, the deal is off and he will sell it to someone else.  He does not have trouble selling mandarins (this is the only one remaining from the three he had a week ago), and urges only large tank owners to buy them, so he is doing me a favor.  Question is, is this 2-week test an adequate safeguard against endangering the fish down the line.  Can it eat prepared foods there, and refuse them when he gets to my son's tank? <In terms of actual feeding, two weeks is a good interval... but the stress of being in small quarters, lack of indigenous-produced/available foods... is trouble> Second:  I have a pile of rocks (granite, basalt, slate and marble picked up by my son from the shores of the Island of Marmara in the Marmara sea a couple of years ago--traveling with 30lbs of rock was not fun, but the kid was in love with them) that have been bleached, boiled and have been used as play material for a couple of years.  Reading the FAQs on rock, I get the impression that you have to ask about each rock and each kind of fish. <More the former, and type of system...> So, can these be used in the tank, given that it has a purple firefish, a watchman goby, and will get a couple of others from your suggestions in the nano article (one might be the mandarin mentioned above if you don't nix it). Thanks very much in advance Regards <The calcareous based materials (in order, the marble, granite/slate, basalt) might go... but are not worth risking in a marine system IMO... I would leave these "on a shelf" to appreciate, perhaps try them in freshwater systems some time later. Seek out substrates of marine extraction. Bob Fenner>

Starving mandarin at LFS  9/26/05 Hello all, than you in advance for your response (I believe I know what it will be but I need to hear it).  My LFS helped me set up my tank initially and I have purchased all of my fish and live rock from them (false percula, Pseudochromis fridmani, 32lbs of (in my opinion great quality) live rock, a few hitchhikers including 2 sea squirts, one crab (the jury is still out on whether he stays or goes), a few sponges, may worms and pods) which are housed in a 45 gallon with a 4 inch DSB.  The set up is 3 months old;  10% weekly water changes and a Remora protein skimmer have helped keep water quality high.  I have generally trusted the guys at the store, though one seems a bit more informed/conscientious than the other.  I have been researching my next tank mate and was browsing, possibly ready to buy if I spotted a blenny or a goby with the right personality, when I saw the mandarin.  The mandarin has been in the store for at least a month, and is now very very thin (in a 10 gallon tank, I can see the 'line' running down its sides).  I almost started crying when I saw it (sorry, but I have always been very sensitive when it comes to suffering animals; I don't eat meat because I'm against factory farms).  I can't stop thinking about this poor fish. My instinct is... I want to bring it home and try to save it.  I have a CPR Aquafuge that I am planning to stock with Chaetomorpha and build up into a pod farm (the Dottyback likes to hunt pods, plus I like them for other reasons).  But I probably couldn't get the pod farm up (stocked and stabilized) soon enough (though I do have something of a pod population currently). I do know that 45 gallons is too small for a mandarin, that it would possibly/probably starve under my care in the long run anyway.  Is there any way that things could work out if I were very careful to maintain a pod population?  It's just really difficult for me to leave the fish at the LFS under these conditions and I can't get it off my mind. Oh, and the guy at the register was reading "Reef Invertebrates"; I mentioned the mandarin to him but he said that it was ok... It is not.  I plan to call (or go) back today when I think that the other guy will be there and see what he has to say.  <Jen, leave the mandarin where it is at.  With no pod population chances are good the fish will die before food arrives.  Let the owner take the loss, not you.  James (Salty Dog)> Thank you. Jen

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

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

Can I have a dragonet? Adam! << Narayan! >>   Everything has been stable for almost a month now -knock on wood. To refresh your memory, I have a 1+ year old 72G bow front with 75-80 lbs live rock, 4 to 4.5" DSB, 20X circulation, with one Kole tang, one Ocellaris clown, one fridmani Pseudochromis and a pair of skunk cleaner shrimp. Salinity 1.025, temp -78.5F to 80F, NH3 = NO2 = NO3 = 0, kH = 110ppm, Ca between 400ppm and 440ppm, and the pH is a little low at 8.2 -7.9. I have a small aquacultured Capnella and a small aquacultured long stem xenia in QT. And I even found unknown 5 baby snails - I have 2 Turbos and 5 Nassarius. that have been in there for 3+ months.   In the last month, all media had been removed from the wet/dry. Some kind of leafy brown algae -that looks like a Sargassum species, that had out-competed all else was pruned back, and did not like being pruned back and started to die off - in its place there are at least 10 other species growing off the live rock, including Caulerpa taxifolia, Caulerpa racemosa, Halimeda, Neomeris annulata, Padina jamaicensis, Penicillus pyriformis, purple coralline and more stuff I haven't identified. It appears as though Padina jamaicensis will inherit the tank next! This one was also pruned back, but does not seem to mind it. First question: The Kole tang has subsisted on hair algae and seaweed selects green, brown and purple algae sheets only. He hasn't eaten any meaty fares yet. << That is fine.  If you have a healthy tank (which is evidenced by your massive algal cultures) then there are lots of little pods he is eating that you don't see. >> I've had him for 3 months now and while he is still fat and active and shows the normal range of colors, I think he spends more time wearing lighter shades than he used to when I first got him. Should I be concerned? << No. >> Second Question: I would love to add one more fish -a dragonet! I have enough amphipods to feed the Pseudochromis that his stomach is always full and only the clown really depends on me for survival. But I want to add a refugium above the tank before I add a dragonet. And I'd really like a 20L, but a 10G is more like what is practical. Can a 10G refugium sustain one dragonet and a Pseudochromis, or should I not get this fish? << Tough call.  I'll say yes it can support it, but I wouldn't do it.  At least not until the tank has been up for several years and has lots of algae growing in the main display tank. >> I suppose as an alternative, a 5 gallon hang on back refugium is just wishful thinking! << I like hang on's and I also like under the tank refugiums.  I just can't in good conscious advise someone to get a dragonet. >> Thank you for your help as usual! Narayan <<  Blundell  >>

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