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My mandarin dragonet...
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art_of_war
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Joined: 17 Nov 2006

PostPosted: 2006.11.28(Tue)3:05    Post subject: My mandarin dragonet... Reply with quote

I had warned my wife that I had done some pretty intense research on the care of this creature and it will not be an easy task. After reviewing the tank conditions (55 gallons/ approximately 60 lbs of live rock/ 2 to 4" thick substrate and an establishment of approximately 2+ months). The copepod/amphipod population within our tank is quite abundant and competition for food would only be against a small yellow watchman goby. I explained to her that as beautiful as that creature is; we could be way in over our heads.

But after careful review of the tank conditions and the aquarium community; she was convinced that we could provide the necessary care. Unfortunately for me, she too does equally as much research as I did and was aware of these concerns. Therefore, there was no disuading her. I broke down and went and got her one.

Truly a remarkable creature; very beautiful and it eats! From the first moment of acclimation up to this point of my typing this little post; it has down alright.

At first, I was a bit worried that it wouldn't eat. Then I saw it eat and I felt a little bit at ease. Next, I was fearful that it would exhaust the copepod/amphipod population too fast. Then I saw that it eats very very very slowly. Again, I felt a little better. Lastly, I saw that his belly was a slight bit sunken in saturday. Then I gave "him" until today in which I noticed that he had an almost full stomach of whatever it was he was consuming (copepods/amphipods, whatever).

I know that I'm not the expert aquarist since I am so new to the hobby but I just thought I'd share with everyone a bit of success that I'm very proud of. Some close observation and research has granted me a bit of success after a little bit of misfortune and failure.
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sunshine84
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Joined: 25 Jan 2006
Location: Sydney, Australia

PostPosted: 2006.11.28(Tue)5:22    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's good to hear your mandarin is eating. They really are beautiful fish and they have amazing personalities, as I'm sure you'll find out. The hard work will certainly lie ahead of you though, because you'll need to put in a lot of time, effort and patience in feeding this species.

Here's some advice though:

1. I used to get a pipette and squirt a piece of brine/mysis shrimp onto the rock in front of my mandarin. She would then look at it for a while before eating it. I would do this until she'd had enough, which could be quite time consuming at times, because as you already know, they are very slow eaters. However, be patient, because they will gradually associate the pipette with food, so feeding will become easier. Also, it helps to turn powerheads off while you do this, because otherwise the brine/mysis gets blown everywhere.

Use this procedure with your other fish as well. If the mandarin sees the other fish eating from the pipette, it will help her to associate the pipette with food. After a while, my mandarin would actually swim up to the pipette and pick at it, because she knew that was where the food came from.

2. Brine/Mysis shrimp may fill their bellies, but it isn't overly nutritious. Try soaking the frozen food in some liquid vitamins. I used to use a product called Naturose as well.

3. Don't rely on your amphipod population alone! In a tank of that size, it is very likely that your mandarin will decimate the population within weeks... and I'm probably being generous. They are avid hunters. In my opinion, this is probably why a lot of mandarins won't accept frozen preparations - they are used to catching the food themselves. However, if your mandarin is accepting frozen foods already, this is certainly the first step.

If you want to supplement your amphipod population, think about getting a refugium. You can culture rotifers in there, and this will provide a partial food source for your mandarin. You can buy rotifer eggs to get you started, although you'll need to do some research on culturing them.

4. Have a lid on the tank! This is just my personal advice, but my mandarin used to swim up and down the side of the tank at night. I later found out this was a mating ritual. One night, however, she went to high and I found her on the floor in the morning. Sometimes, fish can get spooked at night if you don't have blue lights (actinics) as well. So, just be aware of this... its more a precaution than anything else.

5. Your watchman goby sounds like a good companion for your mandarin. But just make sure that you don't add any fast moving fish in the future, because they can and will outcompete your mandarin for food.

Anyway, I hope these tips are of some help to you and I really hope your mandarin continues to prosper.

The main thing is to just keep researching and asking questions, because its the only way to learn.

Good luck,

Susan
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sunshine84
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Joined: 25 Jan 2006
Location: Sydney, Australia

PostPosted: 2006.11.28(Tue)5:26    Post subject: Reply with quote

Also, here's some more information:

http://www.wetwebmedia.com/mandarins.htm
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art_of_war
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Joined: 17 Nov 2006

PostPosted: 2006.11.28(Tue)9:41    Post subject: Reply with quote

thanks sunshine! I found your reply to be quite useful and I will definitely take it to heart. A 55 gallon isn't the biggest in the world but you're right, I would feel a great deal more comfortable if the mandarin would eat frozen foods.

I'm going to try the whole pipette thing with the mandarin. I know it will take some time since I cannot predict it's eating pattern but I have every confidence that it will thrive given time. Experience as well as pre-investigative knowledge from those of you who understand the hobbie best has granted me a wealth of wisdom in this new territory.

Now...if I could only look at corals and know right off the top of my head what each were and their needs. Oh well.

Thanks again.
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FloridaBoy
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Joined: 04 Jul 2004

PostPosted: 2006.11.28(Tue)16:29    Post subject: Reply with quote

With all due respect, as a former retailer, wholesaler and collector I am very sorry to see you make that purchase. The dismal survival record of this species, especially in beginner's tanks, speaks for itself. Not saying you will fail, some have good success with proper care, but statistically this is one of the species I would just as soon see never imported or at least restricted by permit.

The saddest thing about these fish is; they are very hardy and thus they starve to death very slowly. A full stomach of the wrong foods does not equal proper nutrition as I am afraid you will find out.

It also kind of irks me when someone comes on here proclaiming a few days or weeks of success with a difficult species; sadly this only encourages others to add to the trade in these fish. Please do not consider that a personal attack, it is not meant that way I am merely looking at the big picture. That said, I do wish you all the best... looking forward to its one year anniversary in your care.
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sirreal63
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Joined: 21 Feb 2004
Location: Meadowlakes, TX

PostPosted: 2006.11.28(Tue)18:08    Post subject: Reply with quote

It is a very difficult fish to feed. I have one spotted mandarin in the 125 and no other pod hunters in the tank. (I gave away the 6-line I had) I easily have 200 lbs of rock and a fuge to grow pods in. My little girl is fat and happy and hunts for food constantly...I thought about adding a mate for her but decided against it, I don't think I can feed two of them. I highly suggest you cultivate pods in a seperate tank if you not have a fuge or it will surely starve in time. Best thing to do is return it, I don't think it is possible to have enough live food for them in a 55.
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wittd
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Joined: 22 Feb 2006
Location: Lexington, KY

PostPosted: 2006.11.28(Tue)20:22    Post subject: Reply with quote

Keep us up to date on your success. I am also thinking about getting one. I know it isn't the best thing to do, but I have a local pet shop that keeps at least one in stock at all times. I have talked to the owner about this, but he likes them and doesn't care if they starve (or sell) from what he says. Needless to say, I normally choose not to do business with him, but I have always wanted one, and I feel sure I could provide a better chance then it would have in his tank. I have been setting up a fuge, and won't consider until I have a pod population that I am sure could sustain such a beautiful fish and give it the best chance at life possible.
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art_of_war
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Joined: 17 Nov 2006

PostPosted: 2006.11.28(Tue)22:04    Post subject: Reply with quote

FloridaBoy wrote:
With all due respect, as a former retailer, wholesaler and collector I am very sorry to see you make that purchase. The dismal survival record of this species, especially in beginner's tanks, speaks for itself. Not saying you will fail, some have good success with proper care, but statistically this is one of the species I would just as soon see never imported or at least restricted by permit.

The saddest thing about these fish is; they are very hardy and thus they starve to death very slowly. A full stomach of the wrong foods does not equal proper nutrition as I am afraid you will find out.

It also kind of irks me when someone comes on here proclaiming a few days or weeks of success with a difficult species; sadly this only encourages others to add to the trade in these fish. Please do not consider that a personal attack, it is not meant that way I am merely looking at the big picture. That said, I do wish you all the best... looking forward to its one year anniversary in your care.


well mr. florida man,

I appreciate your words of...discouragement but I can assure you that I have given a great deal of thought to the matter. I'm sure you are angered at my decision and approach to such an acquisition. Since it is my belief that reading, studying and researching deems the knowledge of doing. Just as a bold challenge grants one wisdom. I don't swim or scuba dive or own a local fish store or have a degree in marine aquatic biology but I do possess what many people in here have...and that is the love for the hobby.

There are no such things as beginner mistakes. The only mistake would be to not try.

Nevertheless, there are mixed opinions among us all and whether you have the field, sales, caring or even breeding experience in marine biology...it is wrong to discourage people who have looked at you so highly. I'm not upset but I am disappointed in what you said here.

wittd,

It is a beautiful creature and regardless of what others have said; the mortality rate is just a figure. You have my best wishes in this endeavor.
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sunshine84
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Joined: 25 Jan 2006
Location: Sydney, Australia

PostPosted: 2006.11.29(Wed)0:01    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think it's excellent that you've done your research, although FloridaBoy makes a valid point, in that, they really are difficult fish to feed. As Sirreal also points out, it is very difficult to adequately care for this species in a smaller tank. It is not to say that it hasn't been done, although, it is certainly very difficult and the success rate is quite low.

If your heart is set on owning a mandarin though, then I hope you take my advice and continue to read as much as possible, because they really are a difficult species to keep. You sound as though you are willing to put in the effort, so I hope that you are successful. I figure that if your mind is made up and you feel so strongly about this, then all I can do is offer you advice, which is what I have attempted to do. I am sure you are already aware of the challenge that lies ahead.

The thing that really breaks my heart about mandarins though, is that they are the most exquisite, intelligent and beautiful fish, yet they are so often doomed to death in our glass boxes. For every person that buys one with the best of intentions, there will be 9 others that buy one without even realising how to look after them. And everytime a mandarin is sold, the retailer will have a replacement within a few days.

This brings me to another point - there are plenty of ignorant and profit motivated retailers that are willing to encourage the sale of this species. I have been told by retailers that you don't even need to feed mandarins because they can live off rotifers. I've also been told that I could add a mandarin to a 4week old tank. These are just a few of the many things retailers will say, and what I fail to understand, is how these people sleep at night.

Art_of_war, I hope you see my point here. While you have done plenty of research, and appear to have good intentions, there are many more that just go out and buy them, or purchase them as nothing more than a challenge. I think this is what angers aquarists. As much as I loved my mandarin, I wouldn't have another one. I used to spend up to 2hours per day feeding her and I simply don't have the time anymore. Nowadays, all of my time seems to be spent feeding my tubastrea!

On another note, Wittd, if you buy a mandarin from that retailer, they will have a replacement within days. You said yourself that he doesn't care whether they live or die. So, is he really someone that you'd want to support? In addition, you argue that the mandarin will have a better chance of survival in your tank than the retailers. Maybe. But the mandarin would have a better chance of survival in the ocean, which is where it belongs. The very act of buying this species, will continue to see them stripped from the ocean and sold to unsuspecting people. As I said before, for every person that is successful in keeping them, there will be many more that aren't.

I do not support the sale of this species, which is one of the reasons why I don't have one now. After the death of my psychedelic mandarin, I decided that I would not buy another, unless I was planning to breed them. Otherwise, it is simply supporting the sale of this species and further exacerbating the problem.

Art_of_war, I hope this does something to explain why you have been met with the reaction you have. It's not that anyone is trying to attack you, it's just that this is an issue that is close to the hearts of many. I commend your willingness to research this species and your enthusiasm to provide the best that you can for your mandarin. I only hope that your hard work pays off, and that your mandarin continues to prosper.

Once again, continue researching and I wish you the best of luck Smile

Susan
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art_of_war
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Joined: 17 Nov 2006

PostPosted: 2006.11.29(Wed)1:14    Post subject: Reply with quote

sunshine,

I know it sounds a bit outrageous what I had done but after visiting 4 different stores; I had chosen the best one. It's still young enough to be weened into frozen foods and healthy enough to hunt in the mean time.

I'm no longer disappointed in what floridaguy said; he has the best intentions in mind, as do all conservative environmentalist (especially out of florida...at least he can make a decision unlike the rest of the population in that state). Besides, he should be happy that mine is most likely tank raised; just like my ocellaris'. Tank raised species do command higher price tags but it's a small thing to pay to have a slice of the ocean in your own living room.

Besides, can't we all just get along?
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