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Mandarin Dragonet

 
Nicknamed "psychedelic fish", the mandarin dragonet is a brilliant mixture of colors with goby-like behaviors of grazing over DT


Price: $18 to $18 at 1 stores
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Mandarin Dragonet - the psychedelic goby fish featured

Comments Keeping this fish has two problems areas: (1) getting a healthy fish acclimated into your tank and (2) providing a proper diet for your specific mandarin. In the first case, wild-caught fish suffer from the toxic effects of capture. If the mandarin survives a weeks after acclimation, you have successfully gotten over that hurdle. Diet is a continuing issue as the mandarin requires constant grazing due to its "hummingbird-like" grazing and its natural food is amphipods and copepods. The mandarin therefore must have an ample supply of "pods" to avoid starvation. House in a pod-stocked 30+ gallon tank at the minimum or preferably in a 55+ gal tank with lots of LR and an established "pod" population. In limited cases, mandarins can be trained to accept first live brine shrimp and then frozen brine shrimp. However starvation is a serious problem and mandarins who progress too far may not be able to recover even if proper foods become available. Solution to both limitations is the more expensive ORA mandarin recently made available. In all other respects, this beautiful fish is peaceful, good in a community, can live in mated pairs, and moves as a slow, docile accent in your DT. My guess you had to either have lived through the Sixties or have seen a photo to imagine the beautiful colors of the mandarin dragonet. Imagine an emerald green fish with red and orange and blue spots and circles and stripes blended psychedelically together.


Liked about it The mandarin is a brilliant blending of rich colors to accent your tank with a smaller (3-4") fish. It has charming goby behaviors of grazing and perching on rocks and sand. A mated pair will live together in a tank (although it will not like co-specifics). Its thick slime coating makes it resistant to ich. If you manage getting (1) a healthy specimen and (2) its "pod" diet in place, the mandarin is a hardy addition to your tank.


Didn't like The mandarin is not a fish to add to the DT and walk away; it requires monitoring to ensure that it is eating properly and the amphipod and copepod dietary needs are being met for a grazer (or it is an ORA mandarin or other mandarin trained to eat brine shrimp). Once spiralling down into starvation, it can be difficult to return to health even when proper food is supplied. (Some people establish a "pod pile" of small rocks into which they place pods regularly to establish a place in the DT where the slower mandarin will find its food without being outcompeted by its tank mates.) The mandarin caught in the wild has experienced significant stress which may bother you as a conservationist. In that case, you may prefer to get your mandarin as a re-homing from another aquarist's tank.


Overall rating:
 
5.0
Overall satisfaction:
 
5.0
Would consider buying it again:
 
5.0

By Fielding12
Apr 17, 2010
 
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Keep a look out for captive bread dragonets

Comments Some of the other reviews capture a good amount of information about these fish; while beautiful, they are a challenge to acclimate to captivity and it's generally recommended to keep them in large, mature tanks with lots of liverock and no competing eaters. This is due to the finicky nature of these fish to take to prepared foods. They graze all day along the rock, hunting and pecking out various live pods and worms. Most of the time these fish starve to death in captivity, hence their usual poor track record. However, this all may change in the coming months (the summer of 2010). It's been reported that captive bred dragonets are to be available in the hobby, as ORA has announced their success in captive breeding commercial numbers of these fish. This should greatly increase the success of keeping them long-term (due to being raised on prepared foods and no need to acclimate them compared to wild-caught specimens) as well as alleviate some of the collection of them from the wild.


Liked about it Beautiful coloration and unique activity, these fish stay small and are almost always peaceful. They don't add a large bioload to the tank, and they may even help control some pest populations (though this isnt anything I'd expect going in). These are great fish that can be kept in pairs in tanks as small as about 40 gallons if you're certain they're eating prepared foods.


Didn't like The hardest part about keeping this fish is the challenge to sustain their diet long term. If you have the means of propagating live food, or can ensure the fish eats prepared foods (maybe by purchased captive bred fish), there arent really any negatives.


Overall rating:
 
3.5
Overall satisfaction:
 
4.0
Would consider buying it again:
 
3.0

By crvz
May 20, 2010
 
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Expert only fish that should only be kept in large mature systems.

Comments These are one of the most amazing fish out there, they are cheap and beautiful. Unfortunately too many people buy them not knot their requirements. Mandarins will almost never eat prepared foods and can decimate a tanks pod population quickly. At that point they usually starve to death. Although these fish require a relatively small tank it takes a large tank to sustain their feeding requirements. Please no not consider this fis for anything less than 100 gallons that has been setup for at least a year. I love this fish but will never own another.


Liked about it Color and patterns on this fish are just amazing.
This fish is usually out and about looking for food.
Gets along with all other fish.
This is usually an affordable fish.


Didn't like Too many of these fish die in tanks that cannot support them.


Overall rating:
 
2.0
Overall satisfaction:
 
2.0
Would consider buying it again:
 
2.0

By ckusnierek
May 20, 2010
 
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What a Pleasent Reef Friendly Fish

Comments There is one main requirement for these guys and that is tank tenure. before considering adding these guys your tank should be set up for no less than one year. you should be able to keep low nitrate, stable ph, salinity, and a minimal temperature swing. the main thing with Mandarin is being able to feed them. the only thing they eat is coco pods,and anfi pods which are generally not in a new aquarium in large enough abundance to sustain one of these great reef fish.

they are very reef safe cruising the rock during the day and hiding at night constantly eating. During my tenure keeping several of these in different tanks I had one that ate brine shrimp.

if the fish is acclimated to the tank slowly then they are generally pretty hardy as long as they can eat.


Liked about it reef cruisers out and about all the time. great color in a tank, very peaceful and reef safe.


Didn't like need to have a great supply of pods and a refugium is a great place to grow them.


Overall rating:
 
5.0
Overall satisfaction:
 
5.0
Would consider buying it again:
 
5.0

By fchidsey
May 12, 2010
 
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Great fish that I never recommend someone get

Comments Because of the unique and attractive appearance of this fish, many aquarists want one but the fact is, few are set up to properly care for it. The main problem is feeding. Though some aquarists have luck getting them to take prepared foods, most mandarins will only eat live stuff like amphipods. In many tanks the mandarin will eat all of them, then starve. They are also not very aggressive feeders so if you have one that does eat prepared foods it is likely to be out competed by other fish.

Because of the above, these fish are usually already in poor shape when they arrive at the fish store and generally do poorly even with careful acclimation.

They are great in a species tank, a very large reef tank with a good population of amphipods, or if kept by an aquarist willing to grow their food in a farm tank, or spend the money to buy large amounts of them, which is possible via the Internet.


Liked about it 1. Very attractive fish.
2. Non-aggressive
3. Affordable


Didn't like 1. Specialized diet means not likely to survive or will take lots of work on part of aquarist to grow the food it needs or buy it.
2. Usually emaciated upon purchase.


Overall rating:
 
3.5
Overall satisfaction:
 
5.0
Would consider buying it again:
 
2.0

By tcamos
May 10, 2010
 
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