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Can I keep a mandarin or scooter?

Posted 03/03/2012 at 11:44 AM by Sk8r

A mandy should be making a successful 'kill' of a pod every 5 seconds to remain healthy. Keeping one in a well-established 50 with 50 lbs of holey rock, and a mature, year-old 20 gallon fuge with another 20 lbs of rock is very marginal. If you meet those conditions and there is no competition for pods, you can do it with caution.

To run the math, there are 86400 seconds in 24 hours...and given 12 hours of dark when it is not eating (it actually eats before the lights come on...that is 43200 seconds of daylight, divided by 5 (every five seconds)---meaning that a mandy eats about 8640 pods a day, or 720 an hour. Two thousand pods, if fed to it in the required concentration, will be eaten in less than 3 hours. If you have a pair---do the math. You need at least 100 gallons supported by a very large, strong fuge with cheato and live rock.

Note that mandarins and scooters are the one type (dragonets) exempt from quarantine, You take your chances, this once. Their difficult diet makes quarantine a no-go: fortunately their extreme protective slime coat does not allow them to host the ich parasite (unless the fish is sick and/or in bad water conditions [particularly very low alkalinity.]) IE, they can get it, but it is very, very rare. Their slime coat is so thick they feel like a handful of warm Jell-o, and they are frequently believed to have ich---when they have simply gotten some white sand grains stuck to the slime coat.

They have no sense of territoriality toward other species (and will violate territory completely oblivious to the other fish's objections.) They will, however, kill ANY other mandarin that appears if the hunting is not very, very, very good. If you do not start out with a mated pair, don't try to put another mandy in later.

If you have the right tank and are willing to risk the no-quarantine dice roll on a pretty solid bet---they're a very pretty addition to your tank, usually out even before the lights are on, terrorizing the pod population.
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  1. Old Comment
    ReddyW's Avatar
    I just bought a 1.5 inch mandarin for my tank, but I wonder if she'll get enough to eat. I see it striking at least once every 5 seconds, but only see it expel leftovers through its gills once in awhile. When it does, it's a good amount, like a small white cloud.

    I'm new to the hobby and the LFS wouldn't sell me the mandarin till I convinced them it would have something to eat, I'm just concerned that I oversold the amount of pods in there.

    Here are the details on my tank:

    I bought an established Red Sea Max 130 with live rock and sand. I transported most of the water, and left some green goo in the bottom of the tank and sump on the back. The previous owner had installed an InTank media rack and placed the ceramic tubes in the bottom of the sump under the rack and where the protein skimmer would go.

    When I shine a light in the bottom of the sump, I can see hundreds of tiny specks zipping around the ceramic tubes. There seem to be more every day.

    My questions are:
    • Should it expel leftovers with every strike?
    • Should I add more pods to the tank, like the pods+ from reefcleaners or algagen reefpods.
    • Do I need to feed the pods?

    I'm thinking of adding some plant life to the area where the protein skimmer would go and lighting it up with a bulb up top or a submersible.

    Thanks for the blog!

    Posted 03/04/2012 at 02:48 PM by ReddyW ReddyW is offline
  2. Old Comment
    ReddyW's Avatar
    I left out a few details:

    There's no other fish, but lots of tiny starfish and small brittle starfish, snails, and at least two bristle worms.

    There are also many 1/4 inch amphipods. So many that I say my tank has roaches.

    There's about 40 pounds of live rock with tiny bits of coral trying to grow and 4 large hairy mushrooms.
    Posted 03/04/2012 at 02:56 PM by ReddyW ReddyW is offline
  3. Old Comment
    Sport507's Avatar
    As always Sk8r, excellent post. I have both (not in the same tank) and my scooter eats chunks of krill I didn't think he could even get in his mouth. He blasts it out a couple of times but gets it down. Fun to watch!

    Thanks Sk8r Bravo to you for the time and effort you put into this site as well as your tank. It can't be easy being a mod and you are a good one.

    Respects always,

    Posted 03/05/2012 at 05:46 PM by Sport507 Sport507 is offline
  4. Old Comment
    ReddyW's Avatar
    I wanted to report that my Mandarin is getting fat. The area behind its rib cage was very pinched when it came home from the LFS. It has a much smoother taper and seems to be eating like a king.

    I stuffed some Cheato down in the "sump" and the pods have colonized it. I've also let a little algae grow on the glass and it looks like that's the happy hunting ground.

    Long term I think this tank is too small to self sustain a pod population and a Mandarin. I'm going to culture some pods externally and try to train it to eat in a Mandrin Diner till the pods are ready.

    It's good that you have this info out there. Every LFS I've visited has at least one Mandarin and customers are always asking about them. With most priced at $35+ I've only had one shop explain their needs correctly and that's the one that sold it to me.

    Thanks again!
    Posted 03/11/2012 at 09:39 PM by ReddyW ReddyW is offline
  5. Old Comment
    Sk8r's Avatar
    TO ANSWER: re the little white specks on your glass---those are copepods. You may see them vanish once a mandy gets to work---if you know your setup is good, it's probably because even something that tiny has the sense to hide when there's a predator picking them off. Feeding your fish frozen mysis will also bring in some frozen eggs of mysis apparently, because those start turning up, too...
    A caution about using a GFO reactor---if you have a mandy or scooter, do NOT run the thing until you do in ALL your film algae, because that supports microlife like the copepods, and it also directly feeds blennies and other film eaters like the Hector's Goby.
    Posted 03/13/2012 at 12:08 AM by Sk8r Sk8r is offline
  6. Old Comment
    frogdog's Avatar
    Great post.
    Posted 05/13/2014 at 07:03 PM by frogdog frogdog is offline

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