mandarin fish compatibility - need quick answer please

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Aquarium Advice Activist
Aug 1, 2005
I have a spotted mandarinfish in my tank now and saw a mated pair of green mandarinfish at the pet store. These two fish will NOT be at the store very long and will probably be sold in a day or two. I was wondering if I could add this pair to the tank? I think my spotted mandarinfish is a female as the dorsal spine is not long (not sure though). Here's a pic:

Let me know if adding them will work.

I am not sure that the tank listed in your profile will be able to produce enough food to keep three manderins from starving. I would skip it based on that.
tank size and how mature it is would be very important. And IMO it is not a good idea, I have read they are territorial fish.
I also would skip it. How long have you had the spotted mandarin?
Is it eating frozen foods?
You list a 72gal tank with 50# of LR and a 5gal sump. I' not sure you can produce enough pods for one mandarin to feed on. Three would starve IMO.
Well my spotted mandarin eats all sorts of frozen food including mysis shrimp. I've had him for almost 5 months now. Food wise my plan was to switch the new guys over to frozen food as well. I am more concerned about them fighting.

Thanks for the quick responses.

P.S. Does anyone know the gender of my spotted? I think it's a female but not sure.
It's hit or miss as far as getting a mandarin to take frozen foods. Most do not, and end up dying of starvation.

I can't tell if that's a male or a female, but I'm not an expert. It's the anterior dorsal fin that would be larger on a male. The males tend to be larger also.
Looks to be male to me. I have green and spotted mandarins in my tank. I have never had aggression issues with them. If they do happen to bump into each other which is seldom they just check each other out and keep grazing. I do agree with others in that they will more than likely starve in your tank. If yours is eating frozen food then consider yourself lucky. Even if all of them will eat prepared food you will still have issues since they would need a constant food source and feeding many times a day is really not a option.
Male = spiked dorsal fin

Female = smooth dorsal fin

Brenden your experience is based on a 500+ tank.. Big difference.. If I had a tank that big I would have a herd of them...

Food being a BIG issue in a small tank...
Brenden your experience is based on a 500+ tank..........
Food being a BIG issue in a small tank...


Even if all of them will eat prepared food you will still have issues since they would need a constant food source and feeding many times a day is really not a option.
That's a male. And your tank isn't big enough for them all to have their own territory... look at it like... 50-100lbs live rock per mandarin. That'd be 150-300lbs rock for 3, and then each is going to have roughly a 40-50 gallon territory. Even then, the males are likely to duke it out. Also, spotted mandarins are well known for eating frozen. That's not a big accomplishment, honestly, but it isn't insurance either. Your guy is looking good though, as long as he's getting a variety, he should be okay. But green mandarins are a whole different story... only rarely do they accept frozen food, and usually only from a pipette. If I were you, I'd invest in more liverock and look for a female to match the male you have. Even mated mandains really don't hang together any time but during spawning time. Good luck comin to a decision!
Just wanted to give you guys an update.

So I went ahead and got the pair of mandarins last week. I returned my spotted mandarin (a male) to the LFS. :( My wife was so upset. The guy there is a friend of mine and put him in one of the display tanks. I didn't want him going to a bad place. :) The spotted male was attacking both the male and female green mandarins.

Now about the food. After a lot of patience, tricks, and time I've gotten both the male and female green mandarins to accept frozen food. YEAH!!!!! I guess this is quite an accomplishment given what "zuzecawi" posted. The male was easier to get on frozen food than the female. This could be due to the fact that she is much smaller in size and consequently has a smaller mouth. The male eats both frozen brine and mysis to a lesser degree. He even ate KM carnivore pellet food yesterday which was awesome. I think soaking all food in Garlic is the key along with making sure everyone else in the tank has a full belly. Now that they are both trained to eat frozen food they actually chase them in the tank when I put the food in.

I'll have to post a pic of them. It's quite interesting to watch the behavior of the pair. Sometimes the female comes to the front of the tank when I'm there to greet (I'm guessing) but as soon as the male sees her there he comes right at her scaring her back into the rock. Kind of funny. These are some of the most beautiful fish. Thanks again to everyone who posted.
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