View Full Version : Minimum requirment for a mandarin.
10/11/1999, 08:10 AM
I love Mandarins! I would love to keep one, and I won't try as long as I have my small tank, but I do have some questions about their requirements, that I would like to hear different opinions on.
First, I have heard that it takes at least a 100G tank with a 3 year old sand bed to keep them happy. What is the minimum tank size required for their care in your opinion? Why?
Second, when you calculate the minimum size requirement, what do you include? If I had a 20G display tank with an 80G sump/refugium, wouldn't that equate to 100G?
Third, why is size in gallons the measure used to calculate minimum requirments? If I have a 100G tank with 100 lbs of live rock, doesn't that produce less "critters" than a smaller tank say 20G with an 80G sump/refugium that has 20 lbs LR in the display tank, but has 140 lbs cramed in the sump/refugium area.
Fourth, how does one calculate the amount of "critters" produced in a refugium? How should we apply this product to the food requirment of the mandarin?
Fifth, do in-tank refugiums work? If I made a cube out of eggcrate and buried in my rock work, how effective would this be at providing an area of reproduction for the "critters".
Sixth, we noramlly feed our tanks with prepared food. Has anyone ever "fed" a mandarin. I don't mean with frozen foods. I mean has anyone setup a tank with a small refugium, and added small amount of LS, LR, or "refugium starter kits" to the refugium just to add a food source for the mandarin.
Thanks in advance for your replies
10/11/1999, 04:01 PM
Just bringing this up. I'd like to hear input on it too.
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10/11/1999, 04:27 PM
First... I have a psychadelic mandarin. I got him to help with a planaria problem, which he has done admirably. Before I got him I researched and found he needed not a 100 gallon tank but at least 100 lb of LR. I have 130 lbs most of which is at least 5 years old, and 85lb of Live Sand in a 75 gallon tank. He has been in there for a couple of months and he is fat and happy -- flying and hovering all over the tank and eating invisible things from the tank walls, rock and substrate.
Second... I would be more concerned with the amount of life support for the mandarin you have. ie. Live Rock and Sand, and how long it has been established in the tank.
Third... can the mandaring get to it's food source? Not all the food would be free floating, it would need to graze from the sand and rock. (at least in my way of thinking... I am NOT an expert)
Fourth... no clue
Fifth... also no clue
Sixth... My tank is a completely enclosed system. Modified Berlin so I cant really speak to this question either.
Finally... I would just make sure there is enough food for the little guy to eat. If you have the small tank with the large refugium, I would think that continually adding a detrivore kit to your display tank would suffice in keeping him fed. They are beautiful fish and as entertaining to watch swim as any clown fish. They just hover with their side fins and continually search all over the tank seeking out their prey... which I can't see at all but he keeps biting at something. Very unique and very entertaining.
It's a lot harder than it looks, isn't it?
10/11/1999, 05:08 PM
Just came from the lfs and they had the latest in marketing ideas, "The Mandarin Aquababy". Came with a one year supply of live food and included not live rock but live pebbles http://18.104.22.168/ubb/smile.gif.
I added my former mandy (sniff with a tearful eye) to my 1 1/2 yr old 55 with approx 40 lbs of pod infested live rock. Never could get him to take prepared foods and didn't have a refugium. He did great for 11 months but my wary eye missed the obvious absence of pods and over a 3 day period he just stopped moving and died. Within 2 weeks after his passing there was a sudden appearance of pods o' plenty.
Mandarins obviously can be kept successfully but I wouln't try it again without a bigger tank, more lr and a persistent effort at training the guy to eat prepared foods.
Have you by chance read the series of articles about Mandarins written by TerryB? Highly recommended if you haven't.
10/11/1999, 09:41 PM
1) minimum tank size? i don't think a tank size is really important. i think it is the available amount of substrate that the mandarins food has to breed and feed. this translates into LS and LR. roughly, i'd have to say 100lbs with a refugium is a good starter. however, this is certainly no rule of thumb. forinstance, larry has a 40g with a remarkable little refugium. this tank contains no other fish but the mandarin. there is absolutely no doubt that this tank is quite capable of sustaining this mandarin. so, also, you'd have to list predators as factor. shrimp, crabs, other fish, anything that feeds on the micro fauna should be considered a potential threat.
2) sump, no. refugia? yes.
3) huh? http://22.214.171.124/ubb/smile.gif
4) are you serious? http://126.96.36.199/ubb/smile.gif calculate? well, lift out a patch of caulerpa and count lifeforms. multiply by the amount of space remaining. then, do the same with substrate???
5)doubt it. IA markets a nice in-tank refugium. however, i don't like to take up precious tank space. but, either way, a gravity fed refugium is best. if, in this "cube" of eggcrate, you had a nice patch of caulerpa growing, then maybe you'd be talking then.
6) yes. i always make an attempt at obtaining *boosters* of LS and micro fauna when possible.
10/12/1999, 07:00 AM
Thank you all for the replies. I think that I have a much better understanding of what it takes to keep one of these beautiful fish. I am not planning on keeping one in my 20, but maybe one day down the road. http://188.8.131.52/ubb/smile.gif Does anyone have an idea of how much tank floor the mandarin "needs" as a hunting ground? Or how much floor does he need to not feel cramped?
10/12/1999, 09:14 AM
One other important consideration that I didn't see mentioned: What other fish will be in the tank with the Mandarin? Mandarin's will lose competitions for food, so try to avoid direct competitiors. Also, if you are concerned about your tanks ability to maintain a large enough copepod population, you could/should set up a copepod breeding tank (10 gallon or so). HTH.
10/12/1999, 12:46 PM
What would be considered direct competitors with mandarins?
some gobies, some jawfish, some wrasses, some blennies, other dragonnets.... just to name a few.
The quest ( and the questions) continues...
10/12/1999, 01:23 PM
My experience with mandarins is not all that extensive. I have had only one, and kept it for 4 years, and eventually sold it when I turned my reef into a FO. Now that my FO is a reef again, I don't think I would get another mandarin. They need a tank larger than 75 gal. They should have a refugium because they are extremely effective predators of 'pods. Mandarins eat ALL THE TIME. You never see these guys not eating. The 20 gal. aquarium 80 gal. refugium packed with LR is a better idea than a straight 100 gal. tank with no refugium because IME, a single mandarin can easily deplete a 100 gal. tank full of 'pods. I don't suggest such a system, but I assume you were asking to make a point rather than actually thinking about a 20 gal. setup. My mandarin learned to eat frozen brine. My roommate's did as well. It takes a while, but it is usually a resonse to not having enough 'pods floating around. It is not healthy for them to eat brine rather than 'pods, so for all you guys out there thinking that you can put a mandarin in a FO once it eats brine, DON'T.
The reason I am not so keen about keeping one of these guys anymore is because the main tank is where I want my 'pods. They are awesome detritivores, and do so much work for me. Not having them would make my job much more difficult. If the mandarin was a little less hungry, then maybe I could see having one, but they absolutely decimate 'pod populations in the tank. Perhaps when I get my 180 with 100 gal. sump/refugium I will have another mandarin.
10/12/1999, 03:41 PM
The 80gallon refugium might work if you continously moved rocks back up to the tank and then a new rock down. Main thing would be getting a good starter colony of mysis or amphipods and providing them with a good spawning substrate such as easterbunny packaging in the sump and lotts of caulerpa or even better gracillaria sp. Then remove and rotate rocks daily and shake out a handful of the easterbunny nest material into the tank. Feed live brine shrimp at the same time and turn off your overflow. The key is teaching them to accept other live sources of food that you can enrich. As well as heavily feeding your critters in the sump.
Then try the seahorse feeders with live enriched brine. I successfully set up a dwarf seahorse tank that operates on this principal with two mandarine(pair). The tank is filtered with a lee skimmer and has a 20 gallon gravity flow refugia. Main food source is a tote storage box filled with sand and rock and bunnyfloss. Little hang on heater and a heater. Rocks are changed daily and some floss is shaken into the tank. Along with morning feedings of live brine and a seahors feeder on the bottom of the tank for the remainder of the day. Oh by the way this is a 25 high. The 20 gallon is a drilled tank made of plexiglass plates(0.25") and is powered by a maxijet 1200 with dual brilliant filter foam protectors on the inlet side of the powerhead. This results in a flow of about 35 gallons per hour back into the tank.
Works very nicely is laboursome though.
The problem with sump refugia is that few copods or even fewer amphipods get returned into the tank alive and the mandarin won't eat them otherwise. So the solution is taking a 10% surface area and adding it to the top tank and supplying the same free surface are to be repopulated. I really like baking on some flakefood onto rocks since they get covered with critters eally fast that feed on the food. Feed at least a good sprinkler of spirulina a day into your sump and provide spawning aids and critter variety.
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