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Old 10-29-2012, 09:46 AM   #1
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Green Mandarin Training Log/Guide

I picked up a male Green Mandarin on Saturday, was supposed to be a pair, but they received 2 males so I'm waiting for my female.

This past Feb I picked up a Green Mandarin & trained it within about 2 weeks onto prepared food. Unfortunately, I went away for a few days and a hardware issue led to its demise. So, with no predicted travel in the next month, I'm going to do it again.

My setup has 135 gallons net volume in mixed reef, refugium, rock reservoir & sump. I'd estimate about 225+ lbs of rock between the tank, reservoir & refugium. I have 2 clowns, a hippo tang, yellow tang, yellow watchman & 5 PJ Cardinals. I just ousted my sixline wrasse in preparation for the addition.

Since Saturday, the male mandarin has been hanging out in a 30 gal QT, which I've kept stocked with freshly hatched brine shrimp. This is pre training prep - fatten him up ASAP. The tank gets its light from my culture station behind its back corner, this has caused a swarm of brine attracted to the light and he's been parked there eating nonstop for 48 hours now. A true all you can eat buffet!

For what it's worth, hatching brine cysts is super easy, cheap and when I fed some to my DT, they went nuts for it. I've never seen cardinals so hyper. The shrimp are being fed to the tanks within 12 hours of hatching to maintain peak nutritional value. I have a batch on now, leftovers, that I'm trying to grow out & enrich as well.

The next step in the process will be to move the mandarin into a hang on breeder box to start the actual training. The purpose of this is to allow for more direct observation and a more controlled environment. I expect some live food to enter from the QT, and that will be a good supplement, but I want him to be a little hungry to increase the chances to accept prepared food.

The first prepared food will be enriched frozen brine shrimp soaked in vitamins & garlic. Several times a day I will add a small amount & observe. The breeder box uses an air pump to push small amounts of water into the box, this helps keep small items in suspension due to the churning nature and may make the frozen brine appear more alive.

The next step will be mixing frozen brine with a very small prepared "fry food". Then we will move to fry food mixed with Reef Pearls - a small pellet coral food. Then we will move to .5mm or 1mm sinking pellets. Once he is taking pellets regularly, hopefully within 2 weeks, off to the DT he goes.

While I am stocking the tank with pods I have culturing, in my opinion, training is the only way to go to increase odds of long term success. The high mortality rate of these fish is absurd and if you take into account that the are successfully bred in captivity, there's little reason for this.

From here on out I will be documenting my experiences in hopes that others can learn and we can increase the survivability if these creatures.

For what it's worth, my hardware investment for this training is as follows:
Air pump - $10
Airline - $5
Brine Cysts - $10
Breeder Box - $20
Pop bottles are used to house the brine & Phyto cultures, an old salt bucket for the pods and everything else was laying around.

It's not expensive, it's not difficult and its not time consuming, but it will give you peace if mind knowing your prized mandarin has a ready source of food.
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Old 10-29-2012, 10:34 AM   #2
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This is a very informative thread. Thanks for taking the time to write it. I will be following along with your experience!
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Old 10-31-2012, 08:09 AM   #3
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Update # 1:


I left the male mandarin in QT for a few extra days to feed heavily on brine nauplii. Last night I moved him to the breeder box & let him settle for the night. Today will be the first 4 feeding attempts with frozen brine shrimp.

Last time I did this, I didn't fatten it up before hand, so I suspect the initial feedings may be delayed by a day or so since he should be pretty full.
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Old 10-31-2012, 09:28 AM   #4
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I hope it all goes well for you would love to keep one if it is easy enough to get them on sinking pellets
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Old 11-01-2012, 07:24 AM   #5
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Update #2:

3 tiny feedings of garlic soaked brine shrimp yesterday resulted in 1 confirmed "eat & spit out" and a fair amount of perching & staring closely at the brine shrimp. I haven't been watching all that closely as he doesn't like being eyeballed all that much.

Another 2-3 feedings today & hopefully he will take some.
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Old 11-02-2012, 06:07 AM   #6
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Update # 3:

I did 4 feedings yesterday, 3 brine & 1 Reef Pearls (coral food in tiny pellets). I have not directly observed anything yet but I suspect that he has eaten both the frozen brine & Reef Pearls. The problem is that he is quite shy. Whenever I enter the room, he's perched over the food but he immediately hides in his corner as soon as he sees me.

He's always over the food, as if he's grazing, and from a distance I can see what I think is picking motions, but I can't get close enough to confirm. I'm going to setup my GoPro today & try to capture some video next time I feed.
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Old 11-02-2012, 01:44 PM   #7
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Great info. Look forward to seeing a video when you get him to cooperate.
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Old 11-02-2012, 02:35 PM   #8
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Greay info! I wish uou lots of success!
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Old 11-02-2012, 02:38 PM   #9
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I am planing on geting a manderian after i set up my 32 gallon seahorse tank and have it up and runing for a few months. I hope i can do what you are doing to train yours onto frozen foods.
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Old 11-02-2012, 02:39 PM   #10
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Can you post pics of your setup and manderian?
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Old 11-02-2012, 09:33 PM   #11
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The setup is pretty simple: I have a Marina large Hang On Breeder Box, it hangs outside the tank and pumps water in via an air pump. I also have a secondary line from the return pumping a small amount of water via airline. I wanted redundancy to ensure decent flow and to prevent problems.

The last time I did this, I left out the stock air pump setup and just had the mod line from my return which failed & killed the fish while I was away - hence the redundancy.
I have a small length of PVC pipe for shelter and that's it.

In tank boxes work as well, but I found the mesh ones became fouled quite quickly.
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Old 11-03-2012, 01:21 AM   #12
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When I give advice to new saltwater owners that announce they have bought themselves a mandarin, I refer to folks like you that increase the odds these cool little fish will live a happy long life. It isn't easy and it isn't trivial. Yes, there are the rare cases of Mandarines eating flake food and living in fish bowls , but 99% of them don't make it.
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Old 11-03-2012, 01:46 AM   #13
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Great thread. I'd love to own one of these little guys eventually and will be looking forward to your updates. Good luck!
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Old 11-03-2012, 07:41 AM   #14
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In my opinion, all mandarins will eat prepared food, it's a matter of having a healthy fish to start, and putting your time in. You're training away from the instinct to eat moving things; thankfully survival is also a strong instinct. The big issue is that these fish are neglected through the supply chain, they're already in bad shape when we get them. That changes things greatly & that's why I gave this one a 4 day feast of brine shrimp nauplii.

I haven't seen any feeding yet so today I'm trying frozen blood worms. Yes they are freshwater food and not all that healthy, but the idea is to get it eating something prepared, then I can mix in better foods until I reach pellets.
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Old 11-03-2012, 05:47 PM   #15
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I agree. Use to own LFS. Finding a good source for fat mandarins wasn't easy. My son just got one of three that came in about 6 months ago. First fat green Mandarines I had ever seen. All of them are eating and doing fine, but they still love their pods. This lot of Mandarines was really unusual, because as you said, most of them are starving by the time we get them.
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Old 11-03-2012, 06:19 PM   #16
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Tank breeding is advancing with them, hopefully one day they will be as common as tank bred clowns. That would be a huge shift for the hobby - everyone loves them, not many can keep them alive. Hybrids would be pretty cool too.
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Old 11-03-2012, 06:28 PM   #17
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Just posting so that this goes into my responded post log lol.
Love this log, this will most likely help me in the future.
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Old 11-04-2012, 08:32 AM   #18
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Ok, yesterday was the day, or at least the day I actually saw it. Dropped some brine shrimp in, he went right over & started eating. I suspect he's been eating the brine shrimp before this, but he's been to shy to eat when not alone. I think he's become less stressed and will likely progress through the feeding shift to pellets fairly quickly.
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Old 11-05-2012, 11:02 AM   #19
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He is now regularly eating brine whenever I feed without hesitation. Today I started mixing in Reef Pearls - .5mm-1mm coral pellets. In mixing the brine & pearls in Garlic Guard. Slowly I will feed fewer shrimp and more Reef Pearls until he's on them regularly. Then I will stop soaking them and mix in NLS 1mm finicky eater pellets until he's onto them. I'm hoping at this point he can hit the DT, trained onto pellets within the next 4 days bringing this exercise to about a week and a half.

I've not seen an explosion in my tigger pod culture that's been running for just under 2 weeks. Phyto is growing like crazy though.
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Old 11-14-2012, 06:18 PM   #20
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Very nice and informative thread. Ive also been trying to train mine! He was gobbling up big live brine. When my brine get bigger, im going to mix them with the live. Hopefully it will work!
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