Back ON TOPIC - YAY. Sorry, I really should have split the lfs
vs. online to a separate thread.
Glad to hear that it is still doing great, but in an 80 gallon tank with LR
and good pod population I doubt you will wean the mandarin off live food. By now the pod population should be stable and capable of supplying it with food. You should also create a pod pile as a breeding area in the tank or sump.
Mandarins don't eat with other fish. They are slow deliberate hunters. Other fish will always out compete a mandarin for food unless they are trained. Even then there are too many anecdotal stories of mandarins suddenly no longer eating frozen.
The methods and science for feeding mandarins are changing, and for those who are truly dedicated to keeping this fish alive in an environment incapable of meeting its normal feeding demands, they may live a long life.
I have not seen proof of that yet. In the meantime many people hear about these cutting edge methods, don't dedicate the necessary time and the fish perishes.