I have had excellent results with this fish. I bought the male to add variety to the bottom of my tank. I enjoyed his antics of jumping in and out of his favorite hide out. The fish's colorful antics also added fun to other fish within the tank. The clown fish seem entranced by the mandarin goby. They would go over to the mandarin and play along with him. The clown fish actually joined in the mandarin's game of "tag" with the reefs. I did no special feeding except fed him frozen brine fish when I fed the anemones.
If you want lots of amphipods and copepods in your tank, the key is uncured live rock. Ask your dealer for the rock as soon as it arrives at their store. Set up a small reef, and around a month or two later you will have all the little critters you and your little finicky friends can handle. And if you do not put fish in the tank with them you will always have a natural reproducing food source. Simply dip out a cup and pore it in the tank you need to feed.
A good refugium will work wonders when trying to keep your mandarin well fed. It matters not whether it is above tank or below. The food that the mandarins eat will NOT suffer much, if any, damage from impellor blades in pumps. A true refugium with live rock piles and macro algae will soon be booming with pods, mysid and other food sources. Not only is it good for your dragonet, but will help with overall stability of your system as a whole.
We have a mandarin who will not touch anything but copepods. He has tried live and frozen brine and mysis shrimp, but will never eat more than a taste before moving away due to dislike. I have a refugium set up that is 1/2 the capacity of the display tank that houses Chaetomorpha sp. and I think the macroalgae helps maintain pod populations by providing their preferred habitat. I say do not even attempt a mandarin goby unless you have a developed refugium attached to your display tank, becasue it will likely starve. Even if you have pods when you add it, they will be hunted and, without a breeding-grounds to replenish the population, the pods will all be gone and the goby will starve. A sad story that is told all too often. Set up a 'fuge before you get the lil goby! Final bit - keep the goby in a decent-sized tank. My goby is in a 110 L, but I have a 60 L refugium that provides a TON of pods (I can see them on the walls of the MAIN tank!). But do not attempt to keep one in anything less than a 200 L with a sump. In my opinion you need a sump or refugium (or both if you can) to provide a sanctuary for pods to reproduce. At least an in-tank fuge...
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