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Am I over thinking it?

I've read that a 20 gallon tank as a refugium with chaeto would produce enough pods for a mandarin to live off of. Yes, training it to eat pellet is ideal, but the bottom line is when you buy a mandarin and have a nano, you are gambling whether or Not it will live.

 

I was just thinking, couldn't someone just take old tank water from water changes, put it in another tank completely filled with chaeto, and basically let nature do its thing, then shake a nice handful in your main tank once or twice a week?

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You are overthinking it. The chaeto and old tank water are unnecessary and you can grow the pods in any container with just some crushed up fish flake

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i think its a fantastic idea. or just plumb it to your tank as a resevoir that the mandarins cant get to.

 

but the plumbing would be better as to provide a continuous supply of pods

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^ yeah a sump full of chaeto would be better as a food source and has the added benefit of nutrient export. But if you don't have a sump, separate cultures work well

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