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Mandarin System FAQs  2

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

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

Uhh, obviously no overly active, food-competing tankmates... Nor predators!

Suitable for a Mandarin? Sys., comp.      8/21/12
Hello Crew,
I've always admired the mandarin fish, but have shied away from getting one based on what I've read about it's particular needs.  Now that my tank has been running for over two years, and I have a very large pod population I am revisiting the idea of adding a mandarin, but wanted to get your expert, conscientious advice.
Display Tank: 90 gallons
Sand:  fine grade, about 4 - 4.5  inches deep
Live rock:  large amount, probably 1/5 of tank space, with lots of nooks and crannies
Sump:  approx 35 gallons, with live rock in all 3 partitions of sump
Refugium:  18 gallons (part of sump), fishless, with a deep sandbed (6 inches),
live rock, and Chaeto
Notable/Relevant Equipment:
Skimmer:  Bubble King 180
Phosphate Reactor (2 little fishies, w/Phosban)
LED lighting
1 Yellow Eye Kole Tang
1 Foxface Rabbitfish
1 Midas Blenny
1 Mystery Wrasse
<Mmm, this>
1 Red lined Wrasse (Halichoeres biocellatus)
1 Indigo Dottyback
<And this fish may cause the Mandarin some harassment/trouble. Just keep your eyes on... the Callionymid is slimy, unpalatable, so many erstwhile antagonists learn to leave them alone>
2 Ocellaris Clownfish (breeding pair)
couple hermits and snails
Mixed LPS and SPS, gorgonian, 4 rock flower anemones (3 red ones, my favorites),
2 clams
Water Chemistry:
Temp:  79.7F
Salinity:  1.025 - 1.026
PH: 8.05 - 8.25
dKH:  8.0 - 10.0
Calcium:  430
<Mg? I take it w/in ratio>
Phosphate:  0.0 ppm per Hanna test kit
Nitrate: 0
There's quiet a bit of pod diversity, but dominated by Mysis shrimp.  When the lights go out, the DT is crawling with Mysis everywhere you look,
seems like millions of them.  Bristleworms, mini sea stars, amphipods, copepods are also present.  The clown fish babies also provide a meal from time to time.  In the day time you don't see as much but they're obviously there.  One of the concerns I've read is about wrasses out-competing mandarins, but the mystery wrasse only seems to eat whatever I put in the tank (ferociously).  I do see the red-lined wrasse pick through the rocks, though, so I suspect that would be the mandarins main competitor.  None of the other fish seem interested in pods. 
So do you think this is an environment a mandarin could do well in? 
<I give you very good odds of success here>
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>
Re: Suitable for a Mandarin?    8/22/12

Mr. Fenner,
Thanks for the response!  I think I will give it a shot, and add a green mandarin.  I'm not too worried about the indigo Dottyback, he's pretty small and at the bottom of the tank's pecking order.  He pretty much keeps to himself in a
small area in the rocks. 
<Ah, hopefully a tank-bred/reared specimen... much easier-going. B>
Re: Suitable for a Mandarin? Plus BF comp.     10/24/12

It's been close to 2 months now and my green mandarin has been doing great!
 He has no interest when I feed the other fish, but definitely is getting plenty of pods to keep his belly full and has grown since I got him.  He is most active around "dusk" when the lights are low and the pods begin to come out more. 
I have seen no visible evidence of pod populations waning since I added the mandarin.  The other fish seem to completely ignore the mandarin and let him do his thing.  I really enjoy the mandarin, so thanks again for your encouragement!
Next question.  I am considering trading my one-spot Foxface for a coral, which would open up some room to add another fish.  I'd really love to add a butterfly fish, though realize they can be a challenge in a reef setting and ideally they would should be added as one of the first fish rather than last.   The leading candidates I'm considering are the Longnose butterfly and Chelmon marginalis. 
From the research I've done the Longnose would be the safer bet.  These are my concerns that I wanted to get your thoughts on (plus anything else I'm not considering).  I also realize that fish vary from individual to individual, so there are no guarantees. 
1) Compatibility with my rock flower anemones.  I may be adding a tube anemone
<See WWM re... I wouldn't>

(I have some open space for one in a back corner), so that would be another factor.
2) Compatibility with LPS and SPS corals
<Both species are about as "coral" compatible as a Butterflyfish gets>
3) Aggression with my other fish.  I think the Kole tang is the only candidate to act aggressively, but overall the only aggression he shows is occasionally
chasing my red-line wrasse around harmlessly.  (The tang and Foxface get along great)
<Not likely an issue>
4) Would the butterfly make a big dent on the pod population, outcompeting the mandarin for food?
<Not much really from either one of these BFs... some species of Chaetodontids are very zooplanktivorous though>
If the butterfly wouldn't make a good choice, my next choice would be another Halichoeres wrasse.
<Okay. Bob Fenner>

Mandarin Goby, env., comp.     4/5/12
I have a question about a Mandarin Dragonet. I have a 29 gallon Bio Cube mixed reef aquarium.
<Not an ideal home for a Dragonet.>
 I have had it running for approximately two years. I have approximately 40 lbs of live rock. Specific gravity 1.025 Ammonia 0 Nitrites 0 Nitrates 0 Calcium 450 Alkalinity 10 DKH. I have a refugium in the back with Chaetomorpha. I have an 8 year old Clownfish,
<This could be a problem. Species?>

 Blood Shrimp, Peppermint Shrimp and Cleaner Shrimp. Several months ago I was interested in keeping a Mandarin Goby. I started culturing copepods in several Tupperware containers.
<Good job on starting a culture ahead of time.>
 I was able to collect several hundred a week. I had a Six Line Wrasse in the aquarium but gave him to a friend a couple weeks before I got the Mandarin.
<Smart move re-homing the Wrasse. It would have been difficult to provide ample pods for the Dragonet with the Wrasse in the tank.>
The Mandarin has always been very active and gained plenty of weight since I got him. He did have small white marks on his fins but after reading I thought it was debris from sand.
<Most likely sand.>

Yesterday when I got home from work his rear fin had been damaged as well as his left fin. Today when I got home from work he was struggling to swim and eventually died. I truly don't believe it to be from starvation; he was quite fat. His stomach did not appear to be shrunken.
< Starvation will take weeks and it's easy to spot an underfed Mandarin.
Stomach would be severely pinched if it had starved. Frayed fins are a sign of an attack.>
 The Clownfish is semi territorial of one spot in the tank but the Mandarin didn't go near it.
<How can you be certain?  One or two quick attacks from a mature female Clown could easily kill a Mandarin.>
 I don't know what happened. I am wondering if you have any ideas?
<My money is on the Clownfish.>
 Is it maybe disease ? Is it dietary?
<Not likely.>
I'm totally lost he looked so healthy a few days ago. I still have my copepod cultures but I'm not going to buy another Mandarin if he is also going to die. I am just wondering if this is human error or if the Mandarin was perhaps sick?
<An eight year old Clown is going to claim a large portion of a 29 gallon bio-cube. It was only a matter of time before the Mandarin ventured into the danger zone. I would remove the established Clown before adding any new fish.>
Thank you very much
<Quite welcome, Jordan>
Re: Mandarin Goby 4/5/12

Hello Again
Thank you very much for your advice. I don't have the heart to remove the Clownfish he was the first fish I bought.
<Understandable. Smaller Gobies such as- Gobiosoma sp., Elacatinus sp.- should go unnoticed.>
 I will just have to wait him out.
Thanks again

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

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

Mandarin Dragonets in a ~80G System   7/25/11
Hello, I have a 40G tank with a 35G refugium and an extra 5G canister filter where pods seem to like hiding. I'm wondering, is this enough for 2, 1" Mandarins?
<Mmm, maybe... what other life is present in these containers?>
I have a Spotted Mandarin currently and she seems to be finding loads of pods (eating at least 5 a min.) I've been watching her closely for a bit and she has fattened up, I have yet to see her look 'starved', but then again, I haven't had her too long. I'd think that because they are small, they will eat fewer pods, plus I have the chance to wean them to other foods to lessen the pod consumption more. My tank/fuge is a little over 3 months old, I have near a pound of Chaeto, 5 lbs of live rock rubble (specifically for pods), 55-60lbs of live rock from an established tank (water is from the same tank) which never had die off when I put it in my tank, and will be adding 16oz of pods.
I have looked everywhere for an answer, the most relevant thing I can find are that they can be kept in Nano tanks if you keep an eye on them
<Not likely>
so I guess if 1 can go in a 10, 2 may work in a 40B with 80G of water. My LFS said they could take them if they weren't doing too well as well.
<Kind of them>
Lastly, would it be ok to have a Spotted (Yellow) Mandarin and a Red Phase Green Mandarin together?
<Likely so>
I have a female Spotted and will try to get a male Red, would that work since they aren't both males?
Thanks for the help and the great (but a little out of date, because since the mandarin article, ORA and others have successfully bred Mandarins)
site, hard to believe it's just volunteers!
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>
Re: Mandarin Dragonets in a ~80G System... troubles, reading     7/25/11
Thanks for getting back to me so quickly, other life in my tank includes a Fuzzy Dwarf Lionfish,
<Not compatible... will highly likely ingest the Dragonets>
really small and well mannered/fed, about 45-50 hermits,
<... too many, see WWM re>
1 large Scarlet Hermit, about 150-200 various snails,
an Emerald Crab
<... predaceous>
and some coral,
<... too vague... Some are capable of ingesting fishes...>
I plan to upgrade to a 65 RR
<See WWM re>
soon, and will use the 40 as a fuge for seahorses and pipefish after I think the pods and I am ready.
I only plan on getting a Yasha Goby/Pistol Shrimp pair and maybe another lion if it doesn't seem overstocked and I can find a Yellow one. Thanks again for the help!
<Welcome. BobF>

Mandarin In A 50g Reef Tank With 40g Refugium/Mandarins/Systems 11/3/10
<Hi Marcus>
I'm interested in the Mandarin fish, and would like an opinion of a set up.
<OK, a gorgeous fish.>
I will be setting up 50 gallon reef tank, eventually stocked with coral. I realize that you need a stable system before introducing a mandarin into it, and I don't plan on introducing the Mandarin until the tank is well established (10-12 months, with plenty of coral).
<Mainly established with pods, 6 months is plenty of age to keep this fish providing a food supply exists.>
I realize that it's highly recommended to use a 120+ gallon tank to house a mandarin. However, I have an experienced friend who is helping me with this project, and I'd like to try to house a mandarin in a 50g tank (I know, small, but cost is an issue and I'm fairly new to the hobby).
<The main issue with the large tank is to keep the pods reproducing, that is keeping up the demand.>
To keep the fellow alive, I've decided to plumb in a 40g refugium set up to provide the benefits of a refugium as well as to produce copepods. That gives my tank about 90g of space to produce them, 40 of which are dedicate mostly to their production. The fuge will be in the basement and pumped up to the display tank (I'm under the impression that given the diminutive size of the copepods, the pump will have little adverse affect on the creatures). Does anyone have experience with this and have had decent results, or should I consider abandoning the project and the mandarin?
<I would suggest seeding the system with live pods at least one month before introducing the Mandarin. Because of the tank size, you may need to supplement live pods occasionally.>
I've considered also creating a phytoplankton culture to feed the copepods, for several reasons: 1) if they can't reproduce fast enough, this will give them an additional food source, 2) copepods that have a diet of phytoplankton are much healthier for mandarins and 3) it helps feed other phytoplankton dependent creatures (such as certain corals). If things go south, I have an experienced friend who is willing to assist (and possibly take the mandarin), as well as a LFS that is very knowledgeable.
<Marcus, start by reading here and related articles/FAQ's found in the header. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/mandarins.htm>
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>

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

DSB Questions/Mandarin's/Systems 6/14/10
Thank you for the service you provide.
<You're welcome.>
I have a question pertaining to DSBs. My wife and I are going to be setting up our reef aquarium here in the near future. We have ordered and are awaiting delivery of a 135 gallon acrylic aquarium 60L x 18W x 30H with two 1" overflows and two 3/4" returns.
<If you have time, do change the drains to 1 1/2". A 1" drain is only capable of flowing 350gph max with no restrictions. I just don't know why manufacturers continue to provide 1" drains in larger tanks such as
Aside from the customary janitors and corals, there will be just a few fish in the tank as yet undetermined. There is only one fish that I am sure of and that is a Mandarin once the tank has been established for a year or so which leads me to my question; would there be enough sand to support the feeding habits of that fish if there is only 1/2" - 1" of fine sand in the aquarium with 150 lbs. of live rock and an external (sump) reverse lighted (opposite time schedule of the tank) DSB of 6" fine sand and macro algae?
<Mandarin's generally feed off the rock, looking for small crustaceans such as copepods. Do read here.
Will the goodies make it from the sump into the tank and populate the shallow sand for the fish to feed?
<Will depend on how much life is in the sump. Live rock is recommended in the sump along with a sand bed, and I would suggest reworking the sump into a functional refugium. Read here and related links found in header.
It's also best to seed the tank with live copepods a month or so before introducing the mandarin. In that regard they will have ample time to reproduce thus creating larger numbers. This should provide enough food to keep your mandarin well fed. I would suggest to only have one mandarin if you happen to consider getting two down the road.>
The sump will most likely be a standard 55 gallon tank which will house the skimmer (still undecided about brand) fed by raw water on one side spilling into the center where the 1200 gph return pump will be located, and the DSB
on the other side also fed with raw water which then also spills into the center to the same pump. Thank you for your time.
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>

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>

Uncovered pump intake
mandarin IN the power head and STILL alive 6/13/09

<Hello Trisha>
I tried finding an article/email with this particular problem and was unable to.
<Well there is nothing posted exactly like your situation, but uncovered power head intake problems happen all too often.>
I am also panicking a bit so I might have missed it. This morning I woke up and couldn't find my mandarin and then discovered his head sticking out of our power-head (where the water is drawn in). I immediately unplugged it and went to get it with my tongs and net as it didn't just come right out.
After two tugs with my tongs (I thought it was dead!) it slithered itself out and went and rested on the rock.
<Wow, you seem to have a very hardy fish.>
I put a new guard on the power head,
<Very good idea, that should avoid the same situation in the future.>
and have been watching our male mandarin. He isn't breathing heavy and is moving around, but not a lot. Although, I pretty much ran upstairs to see if anyone else had this happen and wrote about it here. I also took some of our grape Caulerpa from our sump and shook it off into the main water for some more copepods. I also tried giving him a bit of Cyclopeeze with the turkey baster. Anything else I can or need to do? I know that our mandarin would not choose to hang out in there-or at least assuming that he wouldn't.
<Mandarins are not very strong swimmers, it is possible he got a little bit to close and the rest happened all too fast.
The movement of additional food from the refugium certainly will not hurt, time will tell on this one. With some luck and continued good care of your aquarium your mandarin may recover if no severe damage was done.>
We have a 90 gallon with a 30 gallon sump. We have 75 - 80 pounds of live rock that had been in tanks for several years. In our tank we have a sail fin tang, two clown-fish, a scallop, skunk shrimp, two peppermint shrimp and a few clean up crew guys. Our salinity is 1.023, nitrates 3, nitrites 0, pH 8.3
Its almost time to do another water change which should get the nitrates back down to 0. Thanks for your help in advance.
Hopefully we won't lose this guy!
<Good luck, and I hope he continues to recover.
Josh Solomon>

Mandarin Goby - It's last hope, sys.    10/4/08 I am sorry for writing this, I believe I have nearly all the information I need from the pages on a Mandarin Goby. My point of confusion is varying opinions on minimum tank size for providing for one. <Mmmm... not so much "room" for these fishes themselves as culture space for food organisms.> I work at the LFS and have access to nearly anything I need, including hundreds of pounds of cured live rock and well established sand from our tanks. That being said here is what I have setup and running now: a 24"x24" 30 gallon tank with 45 pounds of live rock, 1 Remora skimmer with Maxi-Jet 1200, 1 Aqua Clear 30 filter, 1 Seio 620, 1 Maxi-Jet 600, and 3" of .25-.50mm sand. I have a new All Glass Model 4 Sump that is ready to be opened and setup as a refugium when I move in 2 weeks. <I would do ASAP> It is 36"x13.75"x19" I only have a Peppermint shrimp, 3 tiny brittle stars, 5 Cerith snails, 5 Nerite snails and 4 mushroom polyps in my tank. The mushroom polyps and shrimp go back to the store any time I chose. My Ammonia is 0, Nitrite is 0, Nitrate is 5. I do a 5% water change once a week (will move to twice a week when bio-load is higher), top off my tank once a day with RO/DI water, have a 20,000K MH light and the temperature 79-81. We are slowly phasing out our large marine tanks at our store so we will no longer have a tank that can support the Mandarin. He has been at the store for 6 months, is fat and only hides about half the day total. <Hide much more of the time in the wild> Here is where I am confused: I have read here that I need a minimum of 8 square feet of ground area or a minimum of 4 square feet to support a Mandarin. If I use a min. of 130 lbs. of the several year old live rock from work and have a minimum of 4" of the .25-.50mm diameter sand in the tank and refugium will the two be enough (not quite 7 sq. ft.) to keep the Mandarin from starving? <With the refugium up and going, this should be plenty> I believe I will have only 4 months before the last large tanks are taken down and it will finally need to come and live with me. It has no where else to go but with me, I am confident that all would be well if I could talk my boss out of the spare 55 gallon tank and use it as a refugium too. Of course I will most likely be ordering copepods for some time until I have a very large population established in the refugium, and try feeding Roe as was suggested. I have a spare Urchin skimmer and a Remora pro if needed for the larger refugium. Thank you for your time and help. This site has been and is a fount of knowledge and I pass it on to all of our customers. Taylor Flack <I do think your plan is fine. Bob Fenner>

Cooling Fans & Green Mandarin -- 07/15/08 Hello Crew, <<Hiya Frank>> Your info has always helped me out. <<We are pleased to know this>> Thanks for a great Site. <<Quite welcome>> One question is with placing cooling fans in the canopy of my 125G tank. <<Okay>> Currently running metal halides, compact fluorescents, and T-5s. I have 3 clip-on fans that barely fit in the canopy and keep the canopy top open to keep the temp around 76-78 during these summer months. <<I see>> I am planning on buying a low-voltage transformer and wiring pc fans to keep it cool, quiet and keep the canopy top down to look good. <<Ah yes'¦I use a 12v outdoor-lighting transformer to power some computer fans for this purpose>> I was wondering if about a dozen or so fans can be supported by a 150watt 12v low-voltage transformer, or will I need a larger watt capacity transformer? <<That depends on the fans and their consumption requirements, but very likely the 150w transformer will be fine. Figure your transformer has about 12.5 amps of capacity (watts / volts = amps), that means that all the fans will need to 'total' less than 12.5 amps in consumption. Most 12v fans will have their power requirement indicated in milliamps (mA), with 1000-milliamps equaling 1-amp. These power ratings are quite variable even among fans of the same size so you will need to look around for fans to suit (try MPJA.com), and be aware those power ratings will probably relate to how much air movement and noise the fan makes. And something I have discovered that may be of interest is 'not all' Computer/PC fans will run on a common low-voltage power transformer. I don't know why, but I have a couple fans that will only power up when I connect them to my lab-style bench top power supply. But luckily, most of the fans I've purchased have run just fine on the low-voltage lighting transformers I use around my tank>> Second question is that I was thinking about getting a Green Mandarin. The specs of my tank are.......I've got a 125G tank with 46G sump. About 70lbs of live rock and a 3-4inch DSB. My tank has been up and running for nearly 9months. I already have a Scooter Blenny that has thrived in the 5 months he's been in there. <<Mmm'¦and will be a serious food competitor, and maybe even an aggressor, to the Green Mandarin>> I understand that Mandarins eat pods and other small organisms that live within the sand and rock. I have a 28G tank that I used for Quarantine, but haven't bought a fish in months. In that tank, I have a 4inch sand bed and about 3lbs of live rock. There are a ton of organisms including pods in that tank. I will normally scatter food and watch them appear in the daytime to gather food. I know that Mandarins can completely and possibly go through their food source in my main tank. <<In short order, yes'¦compounded already by the presence of the of the Scooter Blenny>> Would this work..........to rotate about 3-5 small 1-2lbs pieces of live rock from my main tank to the 28G so that the life in the 28G would move/populate to these rocks and feed the mandarin in the live tank? <<It would help'¦but it would be much better to plumb this impromptu refugium in to the display system to allow a 'constant' influx of food organisms and their progeny>> I have a super small area in my sump that I use as a Refugium with lots of Chaeto, DSB. But I don't think it would supply too much if any pods since they would be killed by passing through my pump. <<This is not the problem many think, most small organisms make it through the pump just fine'¦and even those that don't still provide benefit/are consumed. The real issue is the size and the refugiums capacity to support the display'¦best to add a larger refugium>> So do you think that my 28G tank would work good as a surrogate Refugium to help a Mandarin? <<It will help, yes'¦better so if directly plumbed>> Thanks you guys/gals Frank X Meadors <<Happy to assist. Eric Russell>>

Mandarin Keeping'¦A Small Fish With Big Requirements -- 06/06/08 Hello Crew, >>Greetings Julian>> Since reading accounts of mandarins being kept in nanos and fed with daily doses of aquacultured pods, <<Mmm, I wonder what kind of 'accounts' you refer to'¦ Someone stating they have kept a mandarin in a small tank for 6-months means nothing'¦look for those who have done so for 6-'years''¦and even then, one or two success in thousands of attempts, well, I think you get what I mean here'¦>> I have been considering keeping a mandarin in my 52 gallon system. My system includes a 40 gallon tank, 12 gallon refugium, PhosBan reactor, fluidized bed reactor, calcium reactor, skimmer, and 250 watt HM lighting, all DIY. <<Although not really a 'nano' system, this is still quite small for this animal'¦in my opinion. As a general rule, these fish need a relatively large amount of rock/substrate to culture and harbor the food organisms they prey upon. The refugium you have will help'¦finding a fish that will accept prepared foods (frozen mysis/glass worms/etc.) will help'¦but none of these are as effective as a system display tank large enough to culture/harbor a ready supply of food organisms on its own'¦and of course, stocked with a dearth of prey food competitors. I'm not saying you can't be successful with this fish, in this system, if you are dedicated to providing for its needs'¦but I want to convey here that simply adding a refugium/culturing 'pods' is no panacea. To be successful with this fish for the long term you will need to 'dedicate' this smallish system to the Mandarin'¦meaning everything you do, including stocking of both invertebrate and vertebrate organisms, will need to be done with forethought to the Mandarin. So think about it'¦is this a commitment you are willing to make?>> My system has been stable for 8 months with extremely high water quality and all my coral are very happy. I am prepared to dedicate two sunlit ten gallon tanks to aqua culturing pods to keep up my tanks supply. Will this be adequate? <<Dunno'¦but should help>> Also, what is the mortality rate of mandarins for non food related reasons? <<In my experience these fish are fairly disease resistant and are usually ignored by their piscine tankmates (Pseudochromis/Dottybacks/Basslets can be problematic in small systems), but do seem to easily fall prey to large cnidarians. Starvation/lack of adequate nutritional requirement (even when they take prepared foods) is arguably the leading cause of this animal's poor survival record in captivity'¦ I don't have any hard numbers, but this fish's survival rate in captivity does appear to be dismal'¦much due I think to folks wrongly believing such a 'small' fish should surely be fine in a 'small' system with no additional thought to its' care>> What would be the minimum size tank for a mandarin with a constant pod supply? <<In my opinion'¦100-gallons>> Thanks, Julian <<Is a pleasure to share, Julian. Do yourself and this fish a service by making sure you are able and willing to provide for its needs. It will require much more than reading a few anecdotal accounts of success. EricR>>

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

Mandarin System 2/17/08 Good Evening, <Jaime> I have a 50 gallon aquarium w/ about 60lbs of live rock my tank I've had my tank for a year now with 1 yellow head Jawfish 1 purple firefish 1 bicolor blenny 3 hermit crabs 1 cleaner shrimp 1 emerald green crab 1 sally light foot crab <Be aware the crabs are quite opportunistic feeders, putting your small fish and shrimp at risk.> 1 serpent star fish and I just recently purchased the mandarin goby a week ago, he's seems to be ok as far as eating. I got two things of copepods when I got him. <This won't last long in a system this small, he will eventually starve.> My problem is at night when I shut my aquarium light off he loses his color but after 5-10min of the light being back on or the sun coming up his color is back to normal and he is swimming around as though nothing is wrong. Is this normal or is there something wrong with him. <This is typical with this and many other fish, nothing abnormal.> Thank you for any help you can provide. Jaime <Welcome, I do encourage you to read regarding your livestock you currently have, paying close attention to compatibility with each other and your system. I have included three links to get you started. Good luck, Scott V.> http://www.wetwebmedia.com/mithraxfaqs.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/inverts/arthropoda/crabs/swcrabfaqs.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/mandarins.htm

Synchiropus ocellatus... habitat... lit.  1/29/08 Hi, <Lance> I have a question for you guys. What is the natural habitat for Synchiropus ocellatus and other scooter blennies and dragonets. I have done a lot of searching and have not come up with anything other than "reefs and locations near reefs, lagoons and sand" depending on the species. <The principal "mandarin" species that hobbyists keep are found within and on the border of Acropora stands... spiky, large aggregations of arborose stony corals... Most of the "scooter blenny" types are found on mucky/sandy bottoms, often about stony corals> I realize that blue, green, and spotted mandarins are probably found on coral reefs only. But the typical brown scooter dragonet can be found other locations, no? My main curiosity is if they ever find their way into sea grass bed type settings as I am shaping one of my tanks into a sea grass type biotope and was hoping to be able to include one of these specimens in the tank. <I have rarely encountered Callionymids in shallow, "grass" beds... but there are so many species... see Fishbase: http://fishbase.org/Summary/FamilySummary.cfm?ID=435 that perhaps some do> From my understanding, they are often found on sandy ocean bottoms or in lagoon settings, but there is nothing on the internet that I have found to be concrete in describing their natural habitat. <Strange> Is there a link to am importer that captures these animals, where someone who can ask their divers where they are collecting these creatures from? <I have seen a dozen or so species in the wild... not collected them... but when the mandarin types are out (near, during the night... spawning) they should be easy to hand net... the others, very easy> I find it strange that so many of the creatures we keep in the reef hobby have very little factual information on them in terms of natural living conditions. <Mmm, there is generally some data, observation for "more important" species... commercially, behaviorally... But not easily accessed (as yet)... in the "scientific literature" mostly. Read here re: http://wetwebmedia.com/litsrchart.htm> Thanks for any light you may be able to shed on this subject. Lance <Bob Fenner>

Quick Question on Copepods, culture/sys., & Mandarin sys.   1/17/08 Hello. <Hello Pam.> My first tank has been set up for 8 months now. It's a 53 gallon tank with a 7 gallon sump. I have 55 lbs of live rock, and a shallow sand bed. I've never noticed a copepod population, and have only seen a couple amphipods over the months (I've even looked with a magnifying glass). I would like to get a population of copepods going for my Pygmy Possum Wrasse and Red Scooter Blenny. <I'm sorry to say your tank is too small to support the Scooter Blenny, especially with any completion for food come from the wrasse.> I have a small section in the sump (about 4" x 4" x 6") that I tried to use for pods. I placed a ball of Chaeto in there and a 6400K spiral compact fluorescent bulb with reflector to light it (12 hour reverse lighting schedule) , and added a bottle of Tiggerpods, but never saw a population build in the display or in that section of the sump after I initially put them in there. I also took some of the Tiggerpods in a syringe, and put them in a small pile of rubble I put in the display, where I thought they might hide and multiply. The Chaeto ended up dying off in a few weeks, so that spot is empty again in the sump. That's the second time I've tried Chaeto, and both times it died off. My LFS is having a group buy on Copepods. To get started, do I need a large amount like the bag of 2000 copepods they will have, or a small bottle or two of 100-200 copepods? <Neither really. If your tank is setup to support copepod population growth, then it will grow. If not, adding them will only create a temporary spike in population.> I don't seem to be having luck with Chaeto, should I just put rubble down in that area of the sump, and put the pods in there or in the display or what? <You may as well start them in the refugium area, but they will find their way throughout the tank on their own.> The area of the sump isn't really large enough to have a Deep Sand bed. One interesting thing....I can't keep Chaeto, but I have one mound of beautiful red macro algae in the display that grows like crazy and I have to prune it weekly to keep it from growing too big. The last time I tried Chaeto, it only lasted for a few weeks, then almost disintegrated. The first time, I think it lasted for maybe 2 months. Maybe the flow is too slow through that section of the sump or the section is too small?? The Chaeto doesn't roll at all. Thank you!! Pam Parameters: Salinity 1.026 PH: 8.3 Alk: 8 dKH Nitrites, Nitrates and Ammonia all zero. Phosphates: between 0 and .1 Calcium 390 Magnesium 1170 Temp 80f Flow: 25x display size Display lighting 150w 10k Metal Halide and 4 24w T5s <There is something going on in your setup that is allowing the red macro to outcompete the Chaetomorpha in the sump/refugium. You mention a spiral compact bulb, but what is the wattage? Many setups you read about online have very small wattage bulbs on the refugium, making the light the limiting factor. This is one factor you can control, give it plenty of light. I have two 65 watt 6500K compact fluorescent bulbs lighting my Chaeto. This makes the nutrients I am trying to export the limiting factor. The Chaeto has better growing conditions than any algae in the tank, hence it grows and algae in the tank doesn't! As far as pod population/production, you probably won't see much with fish in a tank this size that can wipe out the population fairly easily. Included link regarding these fish below. Welcome, best of luck, Scott V.> http://wetwebmedia.com/mandarins.htm

Re: Quick Question on Copepods  & Mandarin sys. 1/18/08 Thanks Scott. <Welcome.> I knew I couldn't keep a Mandarin in a tank my size, but I didn't realize the Scooter Blenny was in the same family (dragonette) until after I bought him. I thought Blenny's were a whole different family. The LFS pointed him out to me as a good addition (and they know my setup as I bought it from them). <Common advice from some LFS.> I have seen him eat mysis when he can grab one before my Coral Beauty gets it all. When I feed my coral, I shoot a few his way, and have seen him eat. <This helps.> Not sure on the wattage of the bulb, but I think the problem may be, that I have it on the side of the sump, and the light has to go through the top-off water and 2 panes of glass before it gets to the Chaeto. <Looks like the culprit.> I probably have to cut an opening in the cover on the sump and put the light directly above the Chaeto. Thanks !! Pam <Sounds good Pam. You're welcome and good luck, Scott V.>  

Dragonet Mandarin, Mandarin Care 12/19/07 Hi, <Hello> I seem to have problems keeping my mandarins alive. The dragonet is acting the same way my spotted mandarin did. He just lies in the bottom of the tank without moving. He is breathing but seems to have problems moving. He shows no sign of damage. We have a 110 gallon tank, with a yellow tank, fox face, 2 clowns, yellow goby, blue damsel. star fish, shrimp, hermit, and snails. All are doing fine. The water is perfectly balanced, calcium and all is good. <Numbers here, "perfectly balanced" means nothing to me.> we do a 10 gallon change of water every week. Do I have to buy special food for the mandarin? <Not realistic to buy what it needs to eat, needs lots of Live Rock to produce the pods that it eats.> Everyone seems to think so. <They are very difficult to feed.> We have had the mandarin for 2 weeks now and it is still quite plump. Thank you for your help Isabel <Need more information, how much live rock do you have, how long has the tank been established, water parameters. Many possibilities here.> <Chris>

Re: Dragonet Mandarin, Mandarin Care 12/20/07 Chris, <Hello> 1. The ph, alk are in the norm according to the color on the paper. (I cant give you numbers). <Ditch the dipstick style tests, they are so inaccurate they are almost worthless, get some dry reactant type tests, they are much better.> I have no nitrates. We did have phosphate but it is now under control. We took the water to a specialized store, and he checked for copper (none) we make our own water using the osmosis thing., calcium (good ). <Ok> 2. I went and bought some baby shrimp which I gave to him right where he was laying, I did it twice so far. <Did he eat this?> 3. I have 95lbs of live rock in my 110 gal tank. We had a 45 gal; for over one year. About 4 months ago we replaced it with the 110. We did keep the same water and live rock from the 45 gal. Thanks, Isa <How long did the first mandarin last? Did you buy them in the same place? Have you seen any of your other fish being aggressive towards it?> <Chris>

Missing Mandarin'¦ Once Was Lost But Now Is Found... comp.   10/2/07 Good afternoon Crew! <Hi Luvebug, Mich here!> I hope everyone is well. <A bit of a sore throat here today.> I unfortunately am missing my Mandarin Goby that I have had for about 8 months. <I see you found in your follow up email.> The tank is 40 Gal.., which I know is small for a Mandarin Goby, but he has done extremely well since we got him. There is about 40 lbs. of live rock, the tank has been established for close to 5 years, <Excellent.> and I often buy coral or polyp frags with lots of copepods for food as well as the things that grow in the tank anyway, and he will also eat the Mysis shrimp the other fish eat, so I don't think he starved to death. <Good, is a painful way to die.> ( The other fish being a Scooter Blenny, Pajama Cardinal, Maroon Clown, Magenta Gramma, snails, Hermits, a large Anemone, <These frequently eat fish, particularly slow perchers like Mandarinfish.> a Bubble Coral <These can also eat fish, again particularly slow perchers such as Mandarinfish.> and a Pink and yellow Nudibranch. <Nudibranchs are generally not suited for captive care. They are often obligate feeders and may only survive if one specific food item is present. They are generally short lived and their death can bring about the death of everything else in the tank as some are highly toxic.> -So not all fish} Anyway, two days ago my boyfriend cleaned the tank and did a water change, and took out the plastic vegetation decorations, which he still has not put back. The last time we saw Mandarin was during the cleaning right before the water change, since then he is nowhere to be found! I've lifted up the largest coral with all the hiding spots and turned it around, looked underneath, etc. but he seems to have just disappeared. Usually he is very friendly out in the front of the tank with no cover, and water changes and cleanings don't bother him much, what could have happened? <Guess he/she made it into the filter somehow.> Thanks for the help, <Welcome, Mich>

Missing Mandarin'¦ Once Was Lost But Now Is Found  10/2/07 Hello again everyone, <Hi Luvebug, Mich here.> Just wanted to say disregard my question about the mandarin goby. My stupid boy friend left the cover off the filter intake along with all the plants he left out, <Now, now, he did clean the tank...> so I found my little guy in the Fluval. What a way to make my day pleasant! <YAY!> At least I know I was caring for him properly. <I would be concerned about some of tank the tankmates as addressed in the previous email.> What a jerk! <Careful, you're not living up to your name... ;) Glad you found your little fish. Please consider some of the other potential problems this fish might encounter in you tank. Mich>

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

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

Re: Mandarin  stkg., fdg.    8/4/07 Thank you. No Mandarin for me, then. Tank is too small :) <Yay! :! B>

Sea horse tankmates... Callionymid in small system with a large refugium  5/17/07 Hello WWM. I love the site even though I just found it, as I am relatively new to saltwater aquariums but I have a lot of experience with freshwater systems, and reptiles and amphibians. Anyways I have been reading a lot about saltwater fish and after many different ideas for a first aquarium I have finally decided on a 29 Gallon Oceanic BioCube. I would like to keep a mated pair of Brazilian Reidi Seahorse and either a White Ray Shrimp Goby w/ Randall's Pistol Shrimp or a Green Mandarin. <Mmm, can, could be done... the Mandarin needs special attention in providing foods... best for all for you to look into, incorporate a "living sump", aka refugium here> Now the fish I would really like to keep is the Mandarin. I know that the site recommends only keeping dragonets in aquariums of 100 gallons or more with live rock, live sand and a refugium. I do plan to use live rock and live sand in my BioCube. But my aquarium is still way, WAY too small. I have a 30 gallon? (not too sure) octagon aquarium that I used to keep tree frogs, <Is it made for aquarium use... that is, to be filled all the way with water? Not a thin-walled vivarium instead?> I was wondering is added 30 lbs of live rock, some live sand, and some spaghetti algae if this would be a good off-line refugium. <Oh yes> If you still think this is too small then I guess I will go with the shrimp goby, which I do think is quite interesting but the mandarin is the most beautiful fish in my opinion, and if there is any other options you could think of which would allow me to keep this species let me know. Thank you. <It reads as if you are well on your way to a successful plan here... adding, tying-in the 30 as a refugium with the 29 will do fine. Bob Fenner>

Mandarin hopeful, fdg., sys.    5/16/07 Hi guys, thank you so much for maintaining such a wonderful web site.  I bet you're tired of answering Mandarin questions, but I have another one for you.   I am another victim of consumer ignorance.  I had a 26 gal reef tank established for about 2 years when I decided I should buy a Mandarin.  I had poor internet service at the time and relied on marine fish books for all my info.  Looking back, I am truly shocked just how little is said about Mandarins being hard to keep. <Mmm, don't be too surprised (I'm not)... many of the standard works on marine aquarium keeping have been written by non-hobbyists... Folks with very little practical experience.> So I bought a lovely young Mandarin and introduced him to my tank that housed a pair of clowns, a bi-color angel and a scooter blenny (big mistake I guess since scooters eat the same stuff as Mandarins). <Yes. Most species sold as such are actually Callionymids... Mandarin/Psychedelic Goby/Dragonet family members...> anyway I got wise to the whole situation a few weeks after buying the little guy and wasn't surprised when his body weight started to diminish.  After weeks of close examination of the Mandarin, I also came to notice that my scooter blenny was in a bad way as well (sunken in chest area and bone showing a bit).  At night when I turned the tank lights off I could see TONS of copepods swimming around so I was really puzzled as what to do. <Some such crustaceans are palatable, many are not...> The pair seemed to listless to give chase to the creatures, even when the swam right in front of them.  I dosed tigger pods by the bottle, fed numerous frozen foods that were supposedly Mandarin approved... <If accepted... most specimens need to be trained onto... many don't accept> grew brine shrimp, etc.  He's stayed about the same.  The blenny on the other hand gained a lot of flesh and is now a very active feeder.      Well I have recently upgraded my tank.  I now have a 50 gal (20 sump) tank with tons more live rock and a good deal of sand.  I know Mandarins are recommended to have more, but I'm going to give it a shot.  I've had him for almost 7 mo.s now.  Anyway, it's kind of funny, the blenny and Mandarin are now 'pals' and the blenny seems to encourage the Mandarin to eat the various foods I provide. <Ah, good> A few days ago I caught the Mandarin with a huge piece of sponge (from the angel food) stuck in his mouth.  Poor guy took about an hour to eat the thing, but I was happy to see SOMETHING going into him.  He seems more energetic about feeding now, and I know it's mostly owed to the blenny's encouragement.  I know frozen foods aren't the solution, but I think he has more energy to hunt his real sustenance.  My real question is, is it ever too late for a starved fish to recover? <No, never too late> I like to think where there's life, there's hope, but looking at my poor skinny Mandarin makes me wonder.  The blenny has had a complete 360, but are Mandarins of less hearty stock? <By and large, yes>   I am starting to feel hopeful because of his recent change in behavior.   Well thank you so much for taking the time.     Alyssa Schladt <Do consider soaking all applied foods and the water (weekly) with a feeding stimulant (vitamin and HUFA prep.) like Selcon. Life to you my friend. Bob Fenner> Re: Mandarin hopeful  5/17/07 Thanks for the quick response, I'll stay hopeful for now.  I am setting up a refugium this week and wonder what you recommend to seed it with.... I usually buy tigger pods, but am curious if there might be a more readily accepted species? <Likely so... but don't think there is something/someone selling such specifically... Almost always the mix of what "comes" from a refugium will suit> The web sites that sell them are no help!   Thanks again,   Alyssa Schladt <Just try some new/er live rock in the 'fuge... this will seed/inoculate the sand substrate, produce sufficient life... Bob Fenner> Mandarin Question   4/16/07 Hello Everyone!! <Andrew> I read through your site but my problem seems to be an odd one. I have a green mandarin ( Sir Podley )who is my 36 gallon tank. I have had him about 15 months now and he is very plump. However he only eats flakes food soaked in vitamins which is fine but about 6-7 months ago I added a few bottles of copepods  but he will not eat them at all. They have multiplied and are becoming a nuisance! I have tried to catch him and put him in my 125 gallon tank but I give up, that should be an Olympic sport. <Mmm, best to systematically remove most all else...> Can I put another dragonet in there with him or will they just fight? <Too likely the latter> Is there anything else that will eat them? <All sorts... a small Damsel (my choice? Mmmm... A Talbot's, An Allen's...) or tank-bred Pseudochromid... or...> Thanks for the help! <Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Mandarin in a Small Tank 3/30/07 Dear WWM Crew, <Hi> I have had a 30 gallon tank up and running for about six months now and the water chemistry looks good. I have around 40lbs. LR, ~2in LS, some soft corals, and a Lawnmower Blenny (Salarias fasciatus). <Nice.>  All seem to be doing well. I have no protein skimmer or other method of mechanical filtration, I rely solely on the LR/LS,  good circulation, small bio-load, occasional ~5% water changes, and quite a large group of Shaving Brush algae (Penicillus sp.). Nitrate is undetectable.  <Ok>  My LFS owner has agreed to take my Blenny as credit towards a Green Mandarinfish (Synchiropus splendidus). The specimens of these fish that I have seen in the past have always had interesting 'personalities' and I've wanted one for some time now. Now to my question: I know it's recommended only to attempt to keep this fish in a very large and mature tank, but what if I always had a fresh supply of copepods? <Can be quite demanding.> My LFS stocks live copepods and sells them by the cup. Would the Mandarinfish thrive if I were to add a small amount of live copepods every week or so to my 30 gallon tank? <More often then weekly, maybe 2-3 times a week, they eat a surprising amount.>  The Mandarinfish would be the only fish in the aquarium. Thanks for your advice, Trent <While it can be done I really don't recommend going this route.  The margin for error is just too small.  Too easy to underfeed in this scenario.> <Chris> Mandarin in a 20 gallon tank with a refugium   1/30/07 <Greetings, Mich here tonight.> I am looking into making a refugium for my 20 gallon salt tank.  I have a yellow striped maroon clown, bubble tip anemone, blood red shrimp and coral banded shrimp.  I would like to add a green mandarin to the setup and that would be all I have in there in terms of live stock.  I also have about 15 lbs of live rock and live sand.  I am looking at the refugium both in order to increase the water volume somewhat and to use it for the propagation of pods for the mandarin.  The refugium would have some live sand and rock rubble in it.  If I build the refugium with an overflow return will this be able to move some of the pods into the tank.  I already have a ton of them in the tank but with the mandarin possibly being introduced I want to make sure there is a renewable supply of them.   <I hate to be the bearer of bad news here, but I just don't think this tank can produce enough microfauna to support a mandarin (Synchiropus spp), especially with only 15 pounds of live rock.  Please reconsider your choice.  This fish will slowly and painfully waste away and eventually perish.  Even with a refugium it is highly unlikely you will be able to provide enough pods to sustain this beautiful fish with such a small setup. Sorry to be so discouraging, -Mich>   

Future Mandarin 1/23/07 Would first like to mention how much helpful WWM is to me. It has given me so much advice, that I cannot compliment you and the others who work on the site enough for giving such good information <Thanks> Now for my question. Atm my tank has been set up for 4.5 weeks, cycled 10  days ago, and has 36 pounds of Live rock, 60 pounds of sand, 4 red leg hermits, 4 blue leg hermits, 2 Astrea snails, 2 turbo snails, 4 Nassarius snails, and 1 Banner Cardinalfish. In the future, I would like to add a Mandarin goby. <Hmm...> I have  read and know for some time, that these fish were difficult to keep. <Quite> I really  like this fish, like many do, it is a beautiful and fascinating  creature. I was  thinking of adding him during the summertime, around July or so. <Not enough LR or old enough tank, probably too small too unless you have 36lbs of LR in a 100 gallon tank.> However, I want  to make sure my tank is packed with pods for him to thrive. What can I do to  increase the pod population? <More LR, more space, more aged tank.> I was thinking of adding more live rock, and buying  pods in the beginning to increase population and population rates. <Would help some.> I was also  going to add a hang on refugium to build my pod population.  <Will help too.> Do you have  suggestions to prepare for adding this fish? I know that I have to wait a long  time, but now sure when I will be ready. Also, by that time, would my cardinal  be too territorial? <Doubtful.> And could I add a firefish in a couple months? I figure with  a cardinal, firefish, and mandarin, I would be overstocked. Tank has the Bak pak  2r protein skimmer and bio filter, along with 2 strong powerheads, reaching  900 gph. Thanks, Joe <You need around a 100 Gallon tank with close to 100 lbs of live rock aged about 1 year to be reasonably sure of success with these neat little fish.  As far as tankmates the cardinal and firefish should be fine.  See here http://www.wetwebmedia.com/mandarins.htm for more.> <Chris>

Future Mandarin Part II 1/23/07 Thanks for the reply. So is it surely impossible to add a mandarin  after a year with my 36 gallon tank? <Correct, with any statistically significant chance of success.> <Chris>

Re: Future Mandarin, sys.  1/24/07 If this is true, that how have people claimed to keep mandarins in smaller nano like tanks?  <Of course there are a few exceptions, but the vast majority die without anyone hearing about it.  Out of 1000 attempts if 1 survives a year does what does this mean?> They say that they have taught them to eat prepared frozen foods. <Will help prolong their lives, but few actually take to this.> I even saw the site for the Mandarin Diner, if you have heard of it,  which you probably have. <A statistical anomaly.> Is this possibly but extremely rare and difficult? <Yes, but not really difficult, mostly just luck.>  Or are these people just crazy :P. Unless they have some advancement for keeping these fish, it doesn't look like I can add one, bummer. Thanks  again. <Unfortunately it is the exceptions we hear about, not the thousands that parish even when kept in the exact same conditions as the successful ones.  Statistically the chances for keeping one of these little guys alive over one year, let alone its natural life span, is slim in all but the largest tanks.> <Chris>

Nano, Mandarin and a HUGE refugium?   12/18/06 Hi, WWM <Jon> Great job with your website!  I'm very impressed and grateful for your advice.  I'm thinking about setting up a system that seems to be rare.  I've scoured your website for examples but can find none.  I'm not sure if I've missed a post or my idea is so bad nobody would attempt, or both!  I would like to get your general views of the system and help me determine, if viable, the size of the sump and amount of LR needed to comfortably feed one Psychedelic Mandarin Dragonet. My idea in 3 steps: Step 1: Set up a standard 24 gallon nano marine system, probably using an NC24 from http://www.nanocustoms.com/ for good hood lighting. Step 2: Modify the NC24 so I am draining out of its overflow sump into another sump. Route the return from the auxiliary sump back to the NC24. Step 3: Stock the NC24 with some live rock and modest corals, crabs and shrimps per lighting needs, size, water chemistry and one Mandarin.  Stock the auxiliary sump with standard protein skimmer, heaters, refugium lights, et cetera.  Make it basically a deluxe sump/refugium.  Place within it a LOT of live rock and light accordingly. Voila!  What I think I have created is a nano tank that can host 1 mandarin, who will feed off the 'pods that (temporarily) live in the nano LR, plus all that get pulled in from the auxiliary sump.  Aside from hosting a mandarin, this system should have several additional benefits: the "visual" part of the system is fairly easy to maintain, i.e. not too much Plexiglas to clean, not too much "pretty" LR to find and host, and no feeding the mandarin!  All the water chemistry, equipment, and 'pod farming is out of the site in a sump that can be arranged for easy maintenance and upgrades without ever disturbing the mandarin. My questions to you: Do you think this system is viable? <Yes> If so, how big should I make the refugium/sump and how much live rock do I need to feed the mandarin assuming no other specimen eats 'pods in the tank? <As large as practical... twenty or more gallons for sure> About how much time will it take for my 'pod farm to stabilize and create a sustainable amount of 'pods?   <A few months> I'm told a year, but that sounds too conservative.  Will the pods (and shrimp/crabs) need additional food? <Mmm... yes... can/will get from feeding your main system, lighting...> Cheers, Jon <Do take a read on WWM re Mandarin Systems, Marine Plumbing (particularly overflows), Refugium Designs... Bob Fenner> Re: Nano, Mandarin and a HUGE refugium?   12/19/06 Thanks, Bob!  And, yeah, I did find a lot more information on your site about Mandarin systems that are very similar to design below.  I should have waited another day before sending my query.  I'm pleasantly surprised the sump only needs to be about 20 gallons.  I think I'll have room for at least 60, so probably will (as you suggest) fit biggest feasible. Cheers, Jon <Ah, thank you for this follow-up... Bigger would be better... but I might ask... as I assume others... at what point does the sump/refugium become the main/display tank... and/or vice versa! BobF>

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

SW... set-up... Mandarin Sys...   10/30/06 Hey there guys, new to WWM and Saltwater here. < Greetings and welcome to the salty side of the hobby! Emerson with you today. > I've been into FW for years now and am just starting with SW via a 30 gal long (I chose long over standard because there is more bottom surface area and it's shallower, thus less intense light is required and there is more room for LR) I got 16 lbs of live rock in it and plan on getting 15-20lbs more. Sand bed is 3 inches but is "dead" sand at the moment. Okay so to get to the point. < Good point with the long tank. The added waters surface area will also help with gas exchange. Please research WWM for deep sand bed information as they can be problematic if not maintained properly. > 1. Is it possible in SW to create a complete biological filtration system via plants as nutrient export and powerheads for filtration as it is in FW? < That is what your live rock and sand will accomplish. Bacteria will be converting the wastes, and these make their homes in the rock and sand. > 2. Stocking all I have planned so far that I want to do is a maroon gold striped clown, and a mandarin dragonet I'm aware of their feeding habits, that's part of my next question) Do I have room for anything beyond that? < You will have a hard time keeping anything else in a 30g with a Maroon Clownfish. This fish is very territorial and will likely harass anything else a tank of this size to death. A Mandarin is pretty much out of the question for your tank especially with the clown. > 3. I apparently did a good job picking the live rock I did get. I purposefully chose extremely porous live rock in medium pieces. It has deep caverns all throughout it deep enough to completely hide several limpets completely) When I checked the other night my tank was SWARMING with amphipods as well as a lot of other neat critters. < I just cant suggest you place a Mandarin in your tank with good conscience. 4 times the rock you have may support one Mandarin in the long run. > 4. Finally what all of this is leading up to, how long should I leave the tank alone without significant fish/inverts to allow the 'pods to really colonize and to make the sand "live" to hopefully get some copepods so that I can support a mandarin. It has NOT cycled yet so I guess the time required after it does so. < If you had a suitably sized tank with enough live rock and sand to support a Mandarin you would want to wait around 6 months before adding it. Please read http://wetwebmedia.com/mandarins.htm and reconsider your stocking list. > Sorry for the complex email with tons of questions, but after learning my lessons with FW I'd rather make sure I'm doing this right from the start :) < Don't be sorry! It's great that you care enough to ask. Read as much as you can regarding nano/small tanks as well as fish compatibility and your transition to salt can go smoothly. > Thanks < Most welcome and best of luck! > Live Food Culture/Mandarin Systems - 07/13/06 Dear Crew, <<Hello Paul>> I have two questions pertaining to culturing live food within the main reef aquarium: <<Okay>> (1) What live foods are practical for culture within the main tank? <<Depending on your setup/livestock, some organisms can/will reproduce (mysids, amphipods, copepods, various alga, etc.).  Maintaining sustainable populations is largely dependent upon allowing said populations to establish and grow without predation in the early stages (i.e. - leaving the tank "fishless" for the first 12 months), and then not overstocking the tank with active predators of these organisms>> I am looking for small invertebrates that can thrive and reproduce in a reef aquarium with Mandarin Dragonets or other fish that feed on them and do not require phytoplankton or special foods. <<The micro- and macro-crustaceans from your live rock would fit this description.  But you need a large and "mature" system to provide enough food items to wholly sustain even one mandarin for the long term.  Just how "large" a system is open to speculation, but my opinion is a minimum tank size of 75 gallons with plentiful live rock and a DSB, and all not less than a year old>> (2) What invertebrates can thrive within the same reef aquarium as a Mandarin Dragonet and are prolific enough such that their larvae can help feed the Mandarin? <<The afore mentioned copepods, mysids, and amphipods can all be "prolific enough" in a large enough system.  The key here is the size and maturity of the system.  The tank/environment has to be large enough that the mandarin can continuously feed as needed without depleting the food populations.  Something that usually happens very quickly in a too small system.  The addition of a "plankton" generating refugium can be a big help towards keeping these beautiful fishes (as well as other delicate or difficult organisms)...but in my opinion should be viewed as an adjunct to providing a proper environment...not a substitute for same>> Thanks very much, Paul. <<Quite welcome, EricR>>

Appropriate Mandarin home 6/23/06 I have read your info online about the Mandarin, but wanted to also write you personally. I have been doing some research online and everyone has different answers opinions, etc. <Yep> I am going to have a 40 gallon reef tank, with the 24in Refugium you suggested to me by CPR. Or If I need, I have a spare 29 gallon tank and 10 gallon tank to make a ref to make this work. I want to know if you believe the mandarin  will work in my 40 gallon reef? <Not big enough in my opinion.> I've seen people online with them in their 7 gallon tank, Which I think is cruel) 10 gallon, 20, gallon, then others in 100 gallon tanks. I've read only keep them with 75 lbs of Live Rock etc. <I believe 100G and lots of rock is what is necessary.> I know the tank has to mature about 6 months. <I'd go with 1 year.> I am willing to buy copepods online if I need to. <Not really a good sustainable method.>  Or breed them. I don't know how long such a supply would last. <A surprisingly short amount of time.>  I just do not want this fish to starve if it is at all possible to keep them. <Not in a small tank.> I saw one individual online with a 40 gallon tank, 75 pounds of LR and Live Sand and a 13X4 Ref. He successfully kept his mandarin  healthy for years with no problem. <There are always exceptions, but to count on getting one is unreasonable.> So If possible, could you tell me how to do this successfully, if it could be done at all? <The chances of success in a 40 is small.> Doctors Foster and Smith say they suggest at least 30 Gallons, then Another website About.com said at least 20 gallon tank size. <Hard to sell a fish when the requirements put most people out of the market.> I just don't know if these people are just trying to sell their fish or what. <Yep> Can you please help? I am a dedicated fish keeper and spend hours caring for my tanks I have now. I will do whatever necessary to keep these fish. <Big tank, 100+ gallons, lots of rock, appropriate tank mates.> Thank you for your time. <Sure> Gina <Chris>

Mandarin Systems/Feeding   6/22/06 I have been doing some research online and everyone has different answers opinions, etc. I am going to have a 40 gallon reef tank, with the 24in Refugium you suggested to me by CPR. I want to know if you believe the mandarin goby will work in my 40 gallon reef? <Yes, with your refugium producing pods.> I've seen people online with them in their 7 gallon tank, 10 gallon, 20, gallon, then others in 100 gallon tanks. I've read only keep them with so much Live Rock etc. <Larger tanks are recommended (50 minimum) if live rock is going to be the only source of food for the mandarin, and then only one should be kept in this system. Smaller tanks work well with refugiums producing a healthy pod population.> I know the tank has to mature about 6 months. I am willing to buy copepods online if I need to. I don't know how long such a supply would last. <Best to add the pods in the refugium at least 30 days before introducing the mandarin. This way a healthy population will begin to develop.  The pods will slowly find their way into the display tank and populate the live rock also.> I just do not want this fish to starve if it is at all possible to keep them. I saw one individual online with a 40 gallon tank, 75 pounds of LR and Live Sand and a 13X4 Ref. He successfully kept his mandarin goby healthy for years with no problem. So If possible, could you tell me how to do this successfully, if it could be done at all? Doctors Foster and Smith say they suggest at least 30 Gallons, then Another website About.com said at least 20 gallon tank size. <Both these sizes can work, provided a pod producing refugium is in place.  These size tanks with just live rock as the only food source are not large enough.> I just don't know if these people are just trying to sell their fish or what. Can you please help? Thank you for your time. <Here is some reading for you along with the related FAQ's above title bar. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/mandarins.htm  James (Salty Dog)> Gina Re:  Mandarin Systems/Feeding  6/25/06 - Hi, <Hello Gina> Sorry about that. <OK> Thank you for writing me back. <You're welcome.> Do you think that refugium will be big enough to keep the mandarin healthy? Do I need a larger one? I have a 10 gallon tank and a 29 gallon tank not in use. I could possibly make those refs. If the CPR 24in will work though, I'd rather get it. <The CPR will be fine.  Do place some rubble rock in the refugium and stock with a starter culture of pods. Do follow the advice given below, in my reply to the original query.> Thank you for writing me back. <You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)> Marine macro algae, Mandarin systems    6/11/06 Hi Bob, <Sadanandan> I have a 90 litre marine tank with live rock.... My main aim to grow Caulerpa species of macro algae.....(green type) I have two fluorescent tubes....15 watt  SunGlo (Hagen) and 15 watt actinic blue for the tank.... I have placed the algae... at the top most of the tank so the are the closest to the light.... <Most Caulerpa species do better "rooted" to/in the substrate> I just have a mandarin fish <Hard to maintain sufficient live foodstuffs in a twenty some gallon system for this...> in this tank and a single damsel (yellow tail damsel)... and i am not intending to add more fishes to the tank.... Is this light sufficient to help the algae grow? <Should be able to adapt to this make-up, intensity, yes.... though I'd switch out the actinic for more "white"> The tank has been cycling without fish for a month and the two fishes are there for a month now. I added the Caulerpa yesterday only. Parameter of my tank: Ph 8.3 0 nitrite and ammonia 10ppm nitrate. What other parameters are crucial for lush marine algae growth? <Do need some other micro-nutrients (e.g. soluble phosphate), sufficient and stable alkalinity, biomineral content...> Do they require bright light? <Variable by species... some do, some don't> One other question i have is the mandarin i have is a female.. is it advisable for me to add a male mandarin fish the same size or slightly bigger to the tank? Will the quarrel? <... not a good idea> Thanks for your wonderful support for my previous queries... Dr. Anup <Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/mandarins.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Mandarin/Diamond Goby question   6/10/06 I have a question or two for you.   I have 110 Gallon tank, with about 90 lbs. of live rock.  I am planning to run the tank approximately 6 months to a year before adding any piscine buddies; I really want to let all the critters populate the rock and sand.  Question; would this amount of time provide enough live food to sustain a Mandarinfish (Synchiropus splendidus), without a refugium? <Likely so... with an absence of competitors> Would he/she eventually eat through all the pods, or would they have enough space and numbers to sustain a healthy population indefinitely? <Likely large enough to sustain an ongoing food population here> I suppose I can make refugium area in my sump, but I don't want to light it since I tend to have heat issues and that is just one more source to worry about.  Can the pods grow fine in the dark?   <Many types, yes> Actually, it is not completely dark since it is in a fish room and receives stray light from the tank above, but definitely not enough "quality" light to grow any macro algae with.  I can put some aragonite sand and some filter floss for them to live in....would this work? <Possibly> Last question; this is regarding a Diamond Goby.  Would that be in competition for food with the mandarin goby? <Particularly when small yes. Still as a consumer of benthic, in-fauna that give rise to other organisms with age, size as well> When they filter the sand, do they specifically target pods, or are they just getting the detritus? <Sift most all "large-enough" worms, crustaceans, molluscs...> Thank you for your time, it is appreciated.  Take care. Paul <Bob Fenner>

Jumping Mandarin  - 04/20/2006 Hi,  <Hello> Sad morning for me today as I woke up to find my mandarin fish dry on the floor. Some people I know hinted that I was a bit laughable for taking such events so dramatic, but I can't help it. I never thought that would happen. The mandarin would be the last fish to jump I thought. I should have listened better to Bob Fenner (as I usually do) when he told me that although some fish species are notorious jumpers... "Any fish can jump out". Indeed. My system is a 90 gal+30 gal fuge, 150lbs Fiji LR, 5" sugar fine DSB. Very peaceful set-up (he was not stressed or shy at all) and I did wait 6 months before adding the mandarin. He was in my tank since 6 months and still fat. Is it very unusual for a mandarin to jump? <Unusual, yes, but can be triggered by sudden bright lighting, even electrical storms at night when the lighting is off.  Being chased by a predator will often cause this but in your case you state you have a peaceful tank.> I do like the look of my open-top. I temporarily ruined my budget by getting a Giesseman 230 plus recently. It looks fantastic and the last thing I want now is to ruin the look by adding a huge sheet of eggcrate over the top. On the other side I don't want to lose a fish again or endure the stress/paranoia of always thinking a fish may jump and die any moment. Arrgh... I have been looking to find clear eggcrate but it seems it doesn't exist. I don't know if a net would look good. Probably difficult to find one made of clear nylon and to keep from bending. I tried doing one by building a frame with Plexiglas and drill the frame each 1/2" to insert the thinnest fish line but it didn't work and I gave up. Maybe use some large clear fish net and fix it in a frame used for window screens. Can you give me an advice/point out a product (manufactured for the hobby or DIY) that I could use to cover my tank and that would be as close to invisible as possible? <Might try a ¼' sheet of acrylic with 3/8' holes drilled at 3' centers for air/gas exchange.   It would be unlikely if a fish were to jump that it would hit the hole dead center.> Thanks as always! <You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)> Dominique

WWM Crew Knowledge, Mandarin sys.  - 4/11/2006 I was reading some questions about the mandarin goby in the Mandarin System FAQ's, and people were asking about putting the mandarin in a 55 gallon tank, I agree on waiting at least a year before buying one so your tank has time to grow. I have 3 in a 75 gallon reef, so my question to you is, where do you get your info from, what books do you read to find out about the mandarin, are the answers to the public all trial and error from your personal tank? <<The crew here has an absurd amount of collective experience.  Many here have learned things the hard way, and are now devoted to sharing the knowledge gained there from to others.  That said, I do not agree that a 55-gallon tank will house a mandarin for its entire lifespan, even if you left it for a year first, nor do I think housing 3 in a 75-gallon is responsible.  Ultimately, we are just fellow aquarists, who have experienced things 100 times over, and wish to help others avoid our mistakes, and be conscientious aquarists.  This is, after all, the point, right?>> Don't get me wrong I'm not being hateful or anything but just wondering. <<No hate taken.  Enjoy yourself.  Lisa.>> Thanks, Steve

A Sound Plan ... reef stkg, sys. 4/5/06 Hi Crew!!!! okay, I have been researching, researching & researching...after all that, I have decided to just go ahead and make the plunge w/ a 125g tank (55g refugium) to house a green target mandarin....(I figure this project will take me abut a year and a half, if all goes well) I have come up w/ a list of fish/inverts that I think will do well as community and would like any thoughts anyone might have Yellow target goby Scott's fairy wrasse pair Bartlett's Anthias pair... (Will these be too competitive for food w/ the mandarin?) Lawnmower blenny purple firefish mated pair percula clown pair blue-spotted Rabbitfish a toadstool or two for the clownfish xenia and some small polyps cleaner shrimp feather dusters also, what should the depth of the sandbed be?.....can I use silica and seed with live?.....and then seed the entire tank w/ copepods? I know that seagrass needs about a 6 in sandbed....could it be kept in this type of environment?....and would it be beneficial to overall health of the occupants? is there anything I have missed that should be added? any input is greatly appreciated....is this too many fish?....any competing fish in my list?....too aggressive?...thank you all ahead of time!:-)......take care, Wendy.....ps, great site, thanks for sharing <Hi Wendy, Ryan with you today.  Quite a plan you're concocting!  If you're interested in creating an environment that's targeted around a Mandarin Goby, you truly want to eliminate as many pod-hunters as possible.  The Blenny, the Rabbitfish and the Clowns are all great choices- but as you guessed, the others may out-compete, or worse yet, prevent a sustainable pod population from forming if introduced too early.  Long term, you may be able to add these as your refugium matures.   Sandbed depth is up for grabs.  There are conflicting ideas as to the use of them...In my opinion, either go with 6 inches or nothing!  You're welcome to use an artificial sandbed and seed it...But remember that it will take much longer to mature.  Check craigslist for people breaking down reefs- Maybe you can find a steal.   I think you're on the right track!  Good luck, Ryan>

Seahorses and Mandarins 3/20/06 I've been researching and planning a rather elaborate (if you ask my wife, she'd say "insane") system to sustain two show tanks (although the more I get into it the more interesting all the refugia I have in mind seem to be). <<Lets leave your wife out of it and stick with elaborate, eh?  HA!>> I currently have a 110 G reef with moderate flow from a refugium and moderate light sustaining a fairly diverse population of corals and a few fish including most notably a pair of mandarin dragonets whose continued sustenance is both one of the primary long-term goals and short-term worries in my mind.  They are not emaciated (the male was when I got him, and the female, whom I obtained much more recently, was also a little thin; it's hard to judge, but the male is clearly in much better shape 9 months after I got him than he was when I bought the tank from his previous owner) but I feel a need to constantly be monitoring the situation to ensure they never get that way. <<Your tank, especially with a refugium should be large enough to sustain these fish, but tankmates are a major concern, especially other 'pod specialists like small wrasses and some gobies and blennies.>> I have a 20-30 gallon refugium and a sump under that tank right now, but this is a temporary half-measure.  I have a 150 G tank that I've drilled in preparation for its going into service as the show tank for the mandarins and seahorses (I plan to have a nice stand of seagrass in there).  I plan to have the 110 Reef at the top of the system, overflowing into one or two refugia of 50-55 gallons each, and from there into the 150 G tank, to maximize the flow of food items into that area for the mandarins and seahorses that have such specialized diets (I will probably be buying captive bred seahorses-unless someone is getting rid of wild-caught just at the time I'm looking for my population-, so I know I can feed them mostly on prepared foods if need be, but I would prefer to give them an environment that feeds them naturally if I can). I think I will be able to supply them a good flow of amphipods and Mysis and copepods that grow naturally in my refugium now (and I only hope to multiply the benefits by stuffing the larger volume of refugia full of rubble and sand), but I wonder if I can add diversity and benefits for the seahorses by also having a sustaining population of grass shrimp (Palaemonetes vulgaris) in the 150 G tank.  I know they will tend to prey on the amphipods and copepods, but would you anticipate they would outcompete the mandarins (or seahorses for that matter)?  My research suggests the fully-grown grass shrimp will be too large for the seahorses to eat, but will breed and thereby provide the seahorses with a ready diet of juvenile grass shrimp to augment the supply of amphipods and Mysis.  Or will the amphipods and Mysis be enough by themselves to sustain the seahorses comfortably and I'm just making things too complicated (perhaps I do like the idea of a diverse population in a sustainable relationship to other populations)? <<I would consider methods that will provide more habitat for 'pods in the mandarin/seahorse display.  While refugia are great supplements, I would still suggest a fair amount of live rock in the display to provide foraging area for the mandarins.  I like the idea of the shrimp to provide supplemental food for the seahorses in the form of fry, however unless you maintain cultures of the fry using phytoplankton, they will only serve as an occasional treat.  Also, I do believe that the shrimp may do more harm than good as a result of their own predatory behavior.  If you want to pursue this avenue, I would consider dedicating the most upstream refugium to this purpose.>> Will the mandarins also eat the shrimp fry or do they prey exclusively on copepods (some sources I've consulted seem to think they'll eat anything in the size range of a copepod, as I imagine a newly-hatched grass shrimp might be, or even somewhat larger prey such as flatworms-but I'm not sure I believe that, so perhaps you can fill me in on the real truth!)? <<Mandarins will eat prey other than copepods, including flat worms in some cases.  They may eat the fry, but again this would only be an occasional treat.>> Do you envision that I will be able to keep a large enough supply of copepods coming in that the shrimp population (which I imagine the seahorses will keep under control, but will hopefully not entirely exterminate) will not sweep them up before the mandarins can have their fill?  I'm tempted to believe that with 100 gallons of rock-stocked DSB refugia free of any predation other than amphipods I'll be able to generate a healthy enough supply of copepods to feed an army of mandarins (I'm exaggerating, but you take my meaning!) and the grass shrimp will not make much of a dent, since there'll be plenty of other things for them to eat as well.  But I'd hate to assume that would be the case and turn out to be wrong (probably it would be hard to get rid of the grass shrimp once they were established!). <<Again, I would not rely on input from the refugium and I would be concerned that the shrimp would be excessive competition for the mandarins. I would restrict the shrimp to the most upstream refugia.  I am also not aware of what kind of marine shrimp will reproduce as prolifically as you are describing.>> I couldn't find any discussions along these lines in the FAQ's.  I wonder if that means this is a great idea that's too elaborate for most, or a nutty idea that needs to be killed right away! Thank you.  Brad <<I think it is somewhere in between!!  I think you are on the right track to want to use large refugia to supplement the 'pod population for the mandarins.  On the other hand, it is very unlikely that even an optimally functioning system with some kind of prolific shrimp will be enough to sustain the seahorses.  In the long run, you (and your wife!) may be happier to try and keep the whole thing simple.  You are going to have to feed the seahorses anyway, so you may as well remove the troublesome task of monitoring and maintaining a feeder population.  With plenty of live rock and a refugium, the mandarins will take care of themselves.  Best Regards.  AdamC.>> Mandarinfish behavior, systems... - 2/28/2006 Bob, <Bill> I've been in the hobby on and off for about 35 years and just set up my first 'reef' tank a little over a year ago. (180 gal.) With the exception of a couple of minor problems everything is flourishing partly due to the use of your Conscientious Aquarist  book. <Glad it has been of use to you> I have a question regarding my Mandarinfish. I've researched it extensively and can't seem to come up with an answer. This fish quite often emits a milky colored substance from its gill area. <Yes... "mucus"... Callionymids are quite slimy...> Before being able to ascertain the area it was coming from I thought it my be 'wishful thinking' on its part thinking that it was spawning, but it is coming from the gill area. I was told by a not to experienced aquarist that it was a slime coat of sorts that was expelled when the fish felt threatened or stressed. Is this correct If not, please explain. Thank you, Bill Bush <As far as I know this is so... and not a big deal in a system of your size, likely make-up and maintenance due to dilution. Apparently their mucus unpalatability is their principal defense against predation... Bob Fenner> Psychedelic Goby (A Dragonet) - 02/24/06 Hello, <<Howdy>> I have been searching the site for several hours before attempting to contact you guys.  I have a psychedelic mandarin goby in a 60 gallon tank who has plenty to eat (100+ lbs live rock and many copepods) and am going to move him into my refugium after it is set up and copepods are cultured for it. <<I don't recommend this.  The Dragonet (not a true "goby") will quickly decimate the food supply in the refugium (defeating the purpose of the refugium by the way) and subsequently starve.  If it is to have any hope of long-term survival it needs to stay in the display tank with the live rock, and have its food supply supplemented/refreshed from the refugium.>> I saw articles where people were saying they have Psy Gobies and anemones together and you guys did not say whether they are good together or not. <<They are not.>> Can I safely add an anemone with my little goby?  I have Aiptasia and he didn't seem bothered by it. <<These fish can easily fall prey to anemones...I don't recommend it.  EricR>>

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