Some thoughts on Mandarins

Discussion in 'Marine Fish Discussions' started by Paul B, 11 Jan 2013.

  1. Paul B

    Paul B

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    Mandarins are not like most fish we keep. Their digestive system is more like a seahorse or pipefish. They don't have a real stomach and can not store food as we, and most fish can. You can tell how often a fish has to eat by the size of it's mouth. A mandarin has a tiny mouth which is not designed to take a big mouthful of anything at any one time. They are also not designed to bite pieces off larger food items.
    A mandarin was designed to eat pods and little else. We as aquarists tend to call anything alive, that we can't hardly see, a pod, but there are actual "pods". Pod is short for copepod but for our purposes we can call any small creature a pod.
    Many animals in the sea were once pod size, and the young of almost everything we commonly keep in a tank, that hatched from an egg was a "pod" at the beginning of it's life. Of course if you keep Manta Rays or duck billed platy****es that does not apply. Well platy****es are a fresh water animal and they do lay eggs, (I think) and I know real ducks lay eggs but that is for a different thread.
    Virtually all of the crustaceans we keep lay eggs but most of them hang on to the parent until they hatch, sort of the way Paris Hilton's dog hangs on to her.
    But I digress. We all know that some mandarins will eat pellets and other commercial foods but this does not mean we can change the way it digests food. The short tube it has instead of a stomach has very little capacity to store food so it will get some energy from that meal but then be hungry for the rest of the day. A mandarin is an animal that was built to eat a "pod" every 10 seconds or so. Pods are small and mostly shell so they offer very little nutrition, but that is what that fish needs to eat.
    To me, a mandarin is the easiest, least maintenance, most resistant to disease fish there is but it is also one of the fish that many people have so much trouble keeping for any length of time. I am not sure how long a mandarin is supposed to live because I am not the God of mandarin's but I have had many dozens of them. I find that they are accident prone and the first fish to find it's way into a powerhead when the screen comes off. They also swim up tubes and get stuck, but they almost never get sick and if you feed them correctly, you can't stop them from spawning.
    Just today I saw a post about a guy who wants to keep one in a 5 gallon tank because he saw one in a 2 1/2 gallon tank.
    Years ago they used to keep tigers in zoos in 5' cages. It can be done as you can keep a whale shark in a bathtub as long as his head is underwater. I am not sure how long he would live or what you would have to use to clean that bathtub with after it dies, but again, that is for another thread.
    If you are the type of person that keeps a sterile, spotless tank, who goes to church to pray if you see a little algae or if you personally know Miss Hilton, then a mandarin may not be the ideal fish for you. Yes, you can keep one in that type of tank but that fish should live at least ten years and I can guarantee you it will not in a 5 gallon tank.
    There will just not be enough real estate to grow enough pods, it is simple math.
    You can of course teach it to eat pellets and throw one in there every ten seconds but sometimes your girlfriend may want to go out to dinner and have a nice glass of merlot.
    In my tank there are plenty of pods and God knows what else so I can keep a pair of mandarins, scooter bleeny and some tiny pipefish that all eat pods, but I don't just want them to live, I want them to spawn, Why you ask? Because spawning fish are in the best condition, and if the fish is spawning it is extreamly resistant to "all" diseases and should live past it's normal lifespan.
    There is a way to get a mandarin in this condition but it takes a little work and about $2.00 a month.
    Luckily for us (and mandarins) brine shrimp are very easy to hatch and very cheap. A mandarin doesn't know a baby brine shrimp from a real Pod, and I think new born shrimp are vastly healthier. The reason they are healthier is because a real "pod" is an adult animal but a new born shrimp (or newborn anything) is mostly oil. A shrimp is born with a huge yock sack which is all oil. Oil has many times more potential energy than meat which is mostly protein. So for every baby shrimp a mandarin eats, it gets more energy. If you don't believe me, start a thread of your own and call it "Paul B is a crack pot and doesn't know a pod from a duckbilled platypus".
    I don't keep platy****es, but at one time they were my favorite animal and I went looking for them in Australia. (I didn't find any but found something else, which is also for another thread)
    Anyway back to baby brine shrimp. The problem with baby brine shrimp is that for some reason they like to have a tan so they are attracted to light, sort of like Paris. But the light always comes from above so they head to the surface.
    Mandarins are attracted to pods and stay on the bottom. To remedy this, I built a baby brine shrimp feeder that is a simple device to keep the mandarin well fed by gradually distributing the shrimp near the mandarin. This is a simple plastic container with a fine mesh over it and a tube going to the surface. Every morning I pour new born brine shrimp into the funnel at the top of the tube and the pair of mandarins, scooter bleenies, pipefish and manta ray fry spend most of the day hanging out on ther mesh sucking shrimp through. When the shrimp are finished the fish go about hunting pods, but on every trip around the 6' long tank, they always visit the feeder to see if there is anything left.
    As I said, it is simple to keep mandarins if you don't have a new, sterile or small tank but if you suppliment their diet "every day" with new born brine shrimp, they will live forever and if you have a pair, they will spawn almost every month.
    I hatch shrimp every day in a shrimp hatchery and egg seperator, I don't know if they sell these but they are simple to make.
    These are just thoughts and I hope it helps with mandarins or possably for the few that may want to try their hands with manta rays.
    Here they are spawning
    [​IMG]
    Hanging out at the feeder with friends.
    [​IMG]
    And a video that may or may not work.
    [ame="http://s258.photobucket.com/albums/hh270/urchsearch/?action=view&current=MVI_1715.mp4"]MVI_1715.mp4 video by urchsearch - Photobucket@@AMEPARAM@@file=http%3A%2F%2Fvid258.photobucket.com%2Falbums%2Fhh270%2Furchsearch%2FMVI_1715.mp4@@AMEPARAM@@file=http%3A%2F%2Fvid258.photobucket.com%2Falbums%2Fhh270%2Furchsearch%2FMVI_1715.mp4[/ame]
     
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  3. mornewil

    mornewil Morne

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    Great informative thread, i really love a mandarin. Can you post some more pics on your brine feeder?
     
  4. Dave F

    Dave F

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    What mesh did you use?
     
  5. deadmeat2016

    deadmeat2016 Wouter

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    I just got back from the UK and they sell live brines, pods, phyto as live food in petshops, why dont we have here?
     
  6. dallasg

    dallasg Moderator MASA Contributor

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    DT Plankton sells all over USA , uk and Europe, I have looked at importing but permits are a PITA, also Reef Nutrition, both great foods

    @Paul B I really love when you post, such great topics, logical and to the point.

    I heard that chromis don't get whitespot due to them having scales, heard anything?
     
    Last edited by a moderator: 26 Nov 2015
  7. Paul B

    Paul B Thread Starter

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    You guys use the metric system don't you? Take your metric rueller and measure a new born brine shrimp, then get a mesh with that size holes. :tt2:
    I don't really know, I ripped up an old net but the shrimp should get through the net but not easily. The idea is that the shrimp try to get through but the fish suck them through.
    Here in the US shrimp eggs are very cheap and available. I know you could get them online.
    By the way, my bluestripe pipefish also keep spawning due to this feeder. The copperband just keeps smiling.

    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]

    And another video

    [ame="http://s258.photobucket.com/albums/hh270/urchsearch/?action=view&current=MVI_1982.mp4"]MVI_1982.mp4 video by urchsearch - Photobucket@@AMEPARAM@@file=http%3A%2F%2Fvid258.photobucket.com%2Falbums%2Fhh270%2Furchsearch%2FMVI_1982.mp4@@AMEPARAM@@file=http%3A%2F%2Fvid258.photobucket.com%2Falbums%2Fhh270%2Furchsearch%2FMVI_1982.mp4[/ame]

    I just make this stuff up as I go along. As for chromis not getting spots and having no scales, that is a fantasy.
     
  8. dallasg

    dallasg Moderator MASA Contributor

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    Cool I make stuff up too, hence my chromis Q

    How is the grand daughter?
     
  9. Paul B

    Paul B Thread Starter

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    Really, really cute.
    [​IMG]
     
  10. dallasg

    dallasg Moderator MASA Contributor

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    I agree, wonderful eyes

    Does the mucus layer on mandarins make them more hardy?
     
  11. deadmeat2016

    deadmeat2016 Wouter

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    would a lionfish eat a mandarin?
     
  12. Paul B

    Paul B Thread Starter

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    Yes, that is the theory.

    I don't think so. I once threw a small mandarin in my tank and before he hit the bottom, my lionfish ate him. But he immediately spit him out. I don't know if that would always happen but if you would like a better answer, buy 5 or 6 mandarins and a lionfish and see how many he eats. :1:
     
  13. dallasg

    dallasg Moderator MASA Contributor

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    Eat anything that fits in its mouth, just search YouTube
     
  14. Rossi

    Rossi

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    Nice read thanks!
     
  15. tyronvs

    tyronvs

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    Shot bud:thumbup:
     
  16. Paul B

    Paul B Thread Starter

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    So do I,but not always what I should eat. :p
     
  17. devesh.r

    devesh.r

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    Really good read, i love these fish they are amazing little fish.
     
  18. leslie hempel

    leslie hempel Moderator MASA Contributor

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    thank you for the contribution...
     
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