Jump to content
Fisker

Starving Mandarin Dragonette for $5- a waste of time?

Recommended Posts

Fisker

So, I went to my LFS today in between shifts at work and was offered a Mandarin for $5. He's still alive and active, but has a sunken stomach and is very clearly emaciated. Like, I'd say he has a week or less left in his current tank. The owner basically doesn't know how to care for Mandarins, and when I saw him and made a comment on how skinny he was, it led into a pretty long conversation. It's a good store, but they don't always know exactly what they're getting into with some of these fish, and this isn't the first starving fish I've seen in the store... they were trying to feed him flakes and frozen mysis. He ignored the flakes, obviously, and I'd say he probably ignored all the mysis as well. I told him I'd think about it until tomorrow.

 

Here's my thing - I don't really have much of a tank set up for one. I do have a 20 long that I'm filling with macros, but I'm not sure if that tank would be large enough - I know for a fact the pod population wouldn't be enough, but I'm talking simple bioload and size. If I DID end up getting him, he'd be going into a relatively bare 10 gallon QT until I was sure he was going to make it or I could find a good home for him locally. I don't trust any stores around here to take him, if I'm being honest, and the local hobby seems pretty small.

 

Here's what I have to offer the guy:

 

Frozen Mysis

Frozen Bloodworms

Frozen Brine Shrimp

Live Brine (possibly... might take a while to get some)

Some pods (not many, unless I can get some ordered in pretty quick)

Fish roe? Not sure where I'd get the stuff without paying insane shipping costs.

 

Is it a good idea for me to try and save this fish? Is it worth it? I'm willing to try, but given the success rate on mandarins in nanos, for all I know, I could just make things worse. I've been doing some reading on techniques and stuff to get them on frozen, but I'd like some guidance from N-R!

Share this post


Link to post
darkcurrent

Sounds like a rescue mission! If you really care, keep the mandarin by yourself ... a LFS that can't keep livestock alive can't be helped by advice alone 🙂

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Tamberav

I will be honest, when a mandy gets to the 'skinny bones' stage, they usually do not make it. For $5 it might be worth a shot but if you have to order lots of stuff online it may do no good and you may end up spending a lot on a fish that simply won't make it. 

 

Do you have an asian market to get roe from? 

 

You can order live brine to hatch yourself easily enough but right now this fish really needs some nutrition and fatty foods but live brine might trigger a feeding response. 

 

The problem is when mandy's get too far gone they sometimes just refuse foods or won't eat much at all.

 

Is it actively hunting pods? Even if there are NO pods, it SHOULD be looking for them? If it is not hunting, I would say it is likely too late. 

 

I would only take a chance if its actively hunting but know that the chances are small. Also know that these wild mandy's have a small upfront cost but can have a high maintenance cost since it may mean special ordering food and pods on a regular basis or setting up to grow your own, adding refugiums and equipment, etc.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Fisker

I stopped by the store right before they closed and picked him up. He was actively scooting around the tank and picking at the rocks and glass. I'll see what I can do for him.

 

There is an asian market nearby - I'm not sure if they sell roe, though. I'll call up there tomorrow and see. I've heard these guys take to roe pretty quickly, so maybe that'll help him out.

 

I'm trying bloodworms tonight. Will report back when I know if he's going to take them or not.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Tamberav
5 minutes ago, Fisker said:

I stopped by the store right before they closed and picked him up. He was actively scooting around the tank and picking at the rocks and glass. I'll see what I can do for him.

 

There is an asian market nearby - I'm not sure if they sell roe, though. I'll call up there tomorrow and see. I've heard these guys take to roe pretty quickly, so maybe that'll help him out.

 

I'm trying bloodworms tonight. Will report back when I know if he's going to take them or not.

 

Actively hunting is good news, roe would definitely be the best thing for him. 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Snow_Phoenix

Also try hatching some live BBS - feed up to 3x per day. You will need to get him plump as quickly as possible to give him a fair shot at survival. Skinny mandys usually don't make it as Tamberav has mentioned, but as long as it keeps eating and you can supply the appropriate food, it may just stand a chance.

Share this post


Link to post
Fisker

We have a bloodworm-eating mandarin in the house, y'all. 

 

He hasn't eaten a ton, I'll admit, but I've seen him get 4-5 good sized worms. I'll see about picking up some roe tomorrow.

 

Now, here's another question - this 10 gallon QT is cycled, but is NOT ideal for a mandy. Bare bottom, dead rock, PVC pipe, low flow... Plus, I'm not sure how well it's going to handle the waste a Mandarin would produce. Do I go ahead and just watch him for 1-2 weeks in QT, and take a chance with putting him into my DT where there's at least SOME pods and a more stable cycle? Or should I keep him in QT for as long as possible, and just try and deal with waste the best I can? I've had good luck with this particular store when it comes to disease - yes, they aren't particularly educated when it comes to special requirements for fish, but they run a pretty good QT regiment. Not that I trust it 100%, but still.

 

Thanks for the input, @Snow_Phoenix! I'll see about picking up some of that too, and maybe trying to DIY one of the mandarin feeders I've seen online. I know that mandarins need a pretty consistent food supply - would two feedings a day suffice? I can manage a third on some days, but on others, a morning feeding and a night feeding is all I can do, unless I can rig up an auto-feeder somehow.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Tamberav

I keep mine in a QT until they are eating really well, bare bottom helps feeding frozen. Mine has live rock in it and I tossed in some macro. Low flow is good, I only have a weak return pump on my conditioning tank. I turn my pumps off for several hours and dump in food.

 

If the QT can handle the food then it doesn't sound bad. It will have to compete with other fish in the DT. I would probably dose pods into the QT though since it is skinny. 

 

In the past, I fed mine like 5 times a day to get them super fat but thats hard to do. Two feedings is fine with a good pod population but two feedings and no or low pods probably isn't a good solution long term. They have short digestive tracts and need to eat all the time. This is why I would cut the flow and dump in a ton of food and let them eat for hours. You can try to do twice a day if you can leave the pumps off and put in enough food. 

 

This is how I am feeding my clingfish and ruby dragonet atm in a 10g conditioning tank. I get up a few hours before work and feed/cut the pumps then turn the pumps back on when I leave, then repeat at night. 

 

 

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Fisker

Alright, gotcha. Not sure how well the QT will handle the food - I'll test the water pretty often to make sure it's going to keep up.

 

For now, I guess I'll try to get him eating a mixture of frozen bloodworms and mysis, get some pods from somewhere, and hatch some BBS. Feed him once in the morning, while stuffing him with as much food as I can, once around lunch when I have the opportunity, and once at night. I'm gonna be looking around for long-term solutions for that third feeding.

Share this post


Link to post
Snow_Phoenix

I think Tamberav has given a very solid response and outline on what to do. Bloodworms are okay, but not advisable to be used as a staple feed - they don't have enough nutrients and can raise PO4 levels in a small tank if they're uneaten. Your best chance is dosing pods, feeding live and then over time, wean the fish over to frozen. If you're hunting around for roe, try to get crab roe as well - BME, crab roe is smaller than most (not all) fish roe and is more readily accepted. Keep beefing him up in any way you can. 

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
ReeferBray

Get him into a refugium of a sump it wil be heaven for him or just get pods and enough rocks

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Fisker

Bloodworms were never planned as a staple - right now, it's what he's eating, so I'm just offering that mixed in with other foods until I get him onto something better.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Fisker

Okay, so quick update on some things.

 

I called the Asian market, and while they do have roe, it's processed and seasoned for cooking. Nothing "raw". I'm assuming no chain store would carry something like that? Pretty niche stuff, at least in the West.

 

He got fed this morning, and has gotten another feeding just now. He'll get a third feeding tonight before bed. I'm currently feeding a mix of mysis and bloodworms, and he seems to be mainly ignoring the mysis - but I have seen him take a few small pieces of it. I think the problem is that the whole mysis are just too big for his mouth - he's barely 1" long. The worms are larger, sure, but they're very narrow and probably go down easy. I was at the store today and looked in the frozen foods, and didn't see anything that might be better. Here's what they had - if you see anything that I should consider getting, please let me know!

 

Frozen Brine Shrimp

Frozen Daphnia (freshwater, I know, but maybe it could work? I know there's no problem feeding FW inverts to puffers)

Frozen Carnivore Mix (Mysis, bloodworms, brine shrimp)

Oyster Eggs (these are probably too small for him, right? I've never feed them, but I'm kinda assuming since they're marketed for corals that they're too small to be of interest to even a tiny fish)

Frozen Blackworms (interesting, but I can get and keep these live, so I'd go that route if I was to go with blackworms)

 

I'm working on hatching some brine right now. I found my eggs, and it looks like they expired last month... I'm going to try it anyway. I'm not needing to hatch massive batches or anything, so hopefully the hatch rate will still be high enough to satisfy the mandarin and get rid of this old bottle. I've seen a few different takes on feeding mandarins, and I think I'm going to try the "Mandarin Diner" first - I have the materials on hand (aka a jar), and if he does make it into my main tank, this'll be a good way to keep him fed without having to compete with other fish. If this doesn't work so well, I'll try my luck with Paul B's design. I do have to wonder if the mandarin will take the brine, as I'm sure they'll try swimming upwards as they try and get to the light - they won't escape the diner, but they'll be at the top. We'll try it.

 

He looks better today than he did yesterday - obviously, a lot of that has to do with him getting used to the tank. But, his stomach isn't nearly as concave now. It's still sunken in and he's clearly emaciated, but I can see that he's got something in his belly, and that's a good sight for me.

 

And by the way... if it seems like I'm coming off as rude or am shooting down suggestions, I really don't mean for it to seem that way! I probably just need to take a step back and think about things a bit more carefully. Mandarins scare me, as I've always heard about them being the fish from Hell - that the ones who "make it" usually end up wasting away anyway, long before their natural lifespan is up. It's not that my entire reefing hobby rests on this fish or anything, but I definitely want to see him survive and thrive. Plus, I'm leaving one job and starting another, and trying to get classes lined up... it's a busy time! Thanks for your guys' help, though, and I'll keep you updated.

Share this post


Link to post
Tamberav

Hikari mysis CUBES is much smaller than the PE stuff, you can also chop it while its frozen but I basically only buy the hikari for its small size. 

 

I would try the oyster eggs, I use shrimp eggs which are super tiny specs and mandy's love them. Remember tisbe pods are one of the mandy's fav and so small you can hardly even see them. They are like dust particles. 

 

Trial different foods, some may not work but thats just how it goes. 

 

I would put a fuge on your DT if this works out long term. A macro tank with a dedicated large fish to grow pods and overfeed the pods its a perfect home for them and will make it easier on you during busy times. This will be the direction I go when the tank is ready. DO NOT put any fish in your fuge. 

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
ninjamyst

good luck with the little guy!  tell your LFS to give you some free food to try since you are pretty much doing them a favor.  If there's a local forum, you can ask local reefers with big tanks to maybe give you some pods from their fuge?  

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Fisker

I'm actually using Omega One at the moment - but if I come across any Hikari, I'll pick it up. Believe it or not, that's not a brand that I see locally, other than the occasional container of dry food.

 

I'll definitely pick up the oyster eggs - perhaps they'll be worth it! I wish I had picked them up today, now.

 

For a fuge on the macro tank... what do you think would be the best option, given my extremely limited space? I do have a spare 5.5 and a spare 10 I could set up, but I honestly wouldn't want to do any serious drilling, and it'd have to be pretty slim in order to work. Perhaps a HOB fuge would be best - but then, would a modded AC HOB serve that purpose?

 

10 minutes ago, ninjamyst said:

good luck with the little guy!  tell your LFS to give you some free food to try since you are pretty much doing them a favor.  If there's a local forum, you can ask local reefers with big tanks to maybe give you some pods from their fuge?  

Thanks! I wish they saw it that way - I think they know that the fish is starving, but I'm not sure they see it as me doing them a favor.

 

As far as local forums go, there is one - but it's mostly locked behind a pretty steep paywall. There's some functionality for others, though, so I'll see what I can get into on the site.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Tamberav

Never modded a HOB AC for one, not sure it would hold a ton of space, I know some of the HOB's are decently sized. You could do a HOB overflow OR you could do it so your spare tank is higher than your DT on a little stand behind it or beside it. This way you wouldn't have to drill the DT although drilling the sump beside it would still be a good idea. 

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Fisker

Can you link me to anything on having the spare tank beside the main one? I'm assuming I'd have to elevate it a bit, but minimal/no drilling would be best.

Share this post


Link to post
Tamberav

Called a gravity refugium. I think almost everyone drills them....no matter what drilling is always safer for floods when running an external sump/fuge. 

 

It doesn't have to be this much higher...just high enough for gravity to drain the water back and a pump from your tank (near the surface so it can never drain your entire tank) sending water to the fuge. 

 

https://www.reef2reef.com/threads/making-waves-changing-the-paradigm.152728/

 

You wouldn't have to drill the DT which obviously no one wants to do on a running tank! 

 

It works the same as a HOB fuge tbh...just instead of a spout pouring back over the rim...it is a bulkhead.

 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Fisker

Hmm... Okay. This is completely new territory for me - so sorry for any questions that might have super obvious answers.

 

Having the tank elevated behind the DT wouldn't be an option - however, I could set it up directly to the right of the DT, and then just build a mini-stand to sit on top of my stand... standception. I guess 6"-12" would be sufficient?

 

With that configuration, I'd guess that best way to do it is to have the pump on the side closest to the fuge (so the pumped water has to travel the least distance), and then to have the gravity-fed return on a slant to the other side of the DT, correct? That's a long pipe, but I don't necessarily see a reason why it wouldn't work.

 

What pump should I shoot for? I know literally nothing about pumps designed for sumps and fuges, including what turnover rate I'd need. I'd like to stay on the cheap and reliable side, if possible - but I have no clue what brands would fall into that category, if any.

 

In the link you gave, it looks like he's using 1/2" Mur-lok tubing, which I guess is designed for RO units. Is that kind of "the standard" for this kind of set-up, or would something else be better? It's pretty cheap from BRS, so I don't mind ordering it if it turns out that that's the best option. For the return, it looks like he's using standard PVC that's he's painted black - is that accurate, or is there a certain variety of PVC that's better suited for the job? I doubt pressure would be a concern, but better ask now than be sad later. Would I need to cement the PVC joints? Again, I imagine not, but still.

 

As for drilling the tank, installing the bulkhead and running everything correctly, I'll just do my best to get all that from online, as I'm sure there's no shortage of guides.

 

What you would you run in the fuge? I'm assuming that chaeto would be a good choice, as well as Ulva. 

Share this post


Link to post
Tamberav

It doesn't matter too much, whatever flow rate you want or if you have an extra one around. As long as the drain can handle the flow and some wiggle room. If debris settles in the fuge, it should be easy to suck out with water changes but you may not even want to... debris feeds pods and feeds macro. 

 

I didn't look close at the link but that tubing fits maxijets with the push connects so that may be what he is using. You can even buy a little valve for it to dial in flow. Just like how the BRS reactors have. Vinyl tubing into a return jet or 2 elbows works fine too.

 

Nothing special about PVC. I would cement them unless you get the threaded kind, them some pipe tape. You want to remove all potential leaks. 

 

There are many videos on drilling and the drill bits are very cheap on ebay. 

 

Chaeto, ulva, even have done caulperla prolifera before but you already have caulperla in the display so perhaps the other two. Ulva may need a cheap powerhead as it seems to love high flow. 

 

I would also build a little box out of egg crate or something over the drain to prevent chaeto from clogging it. Again don't put your pump all the way at the bottom like he did. Keep it near the top so if somehow if the drain ever got clogged, the pump can only pump maybe an inch or 2 of water out of the DT before it runs dry. 

 

  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Fisker

Okay, so let me run you through what I'm thinking of picking up.

 

Maxijet 400 - same as what the OP was using in the thread you linked, and seems to be a pretty simple solution.

5 ft of the Mur-lok 1/2" tubing

2 Black Mur-lok 1/2" Elbows

1" PVC

2 1" elbows

1" bulkhead slip x slip

1" bulkhead slip strainer

45mm diamond hole saw

PVC Glue (from what I've read, any off-the-shelf clear PVC glue should be fine)

 

Think that about covers it? I'm looking around right now for lighting options for the fuge, and am considering just doing a high-light variant of some 5000K LEDs.

 

One idea that I've run into that might be better for me, personally, is just to culture the pods in a separate system and to harvest them 1-2 times a week. Keeping a 5.5 gallon culture with daily feedings and weekly 100% WCs might be easier than trying to drill a super thin 10 gallon, as I've heard that even if you can get them drilled, the slightest bump often ends up in a shattered tank.

Share this post


Link to post
Tamberav

One of these to connect it to your maxijet: https://www.bulkreefsupply.com/mur-lok-ro-straight-union-push-connect.html

 

Never drilled a 10g personally, other sizes but not that one. I think people also drill the rubbermade plastic sumps. 

 

Culture can work but you would need multiples as cultures eventually crash, I think growing phyto to feed them is popular. That being said, it is not particularly expensive to do so. 

 

I also remember people using food containers to make DIY hob fuges: 

 

 

Definitely think in it a bit and explore all the options. 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Fisker

The food storage container idea is actually one I'm interested in - I think I'd have to modify it to work on something bigger (unless you think 2 gallons would be sufficient?), but it might be cost effective and small enough to work well. I'm also looking at culturing both phytoplankton and tisbe pods, and that's an equally possible option. I've done DIY CO2 for my FW planted tanks before, and that involves having about 4 2-liter bottles with caps drilled sitting on the stand, along with a drilled HOB intake for the CO2 to enter the water column... pretty fugly, but that was a daily chore. Perhaps culturing my pods wouldn't be so bad, other than feedings. Both would cost about the same to start at this point, so I've just gotta start thinking about some logistics, I guess. I think I'd get more volume out of a culture solution, but it's more hands-on for longer than the DIY fuge. Having my own phyto to spread around locally would be cool, though...

 

I just did a water change on the little guy's tank - it's kinda cloudy, but I'll post a picture here in an hour or so, once it clears up. He's had two feedings today, and is heading for his third here in about 3 hours. I've been keeping food in the jar at all times - I put a large amount in just before lights come on, and monitor until lunch. If he runs out before lunch, I'll add some then. Then, repeat the process for dinner. For days where all I can fit in are an early-morning breakfast and a late night dinner, I may try Paul B's baby brine doser. Not perfect food, but until I get pods... it might be the best I can do.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Fisker

Tank's currently got the ABI PAR38 "Tuna Blue" over it... so, picture quality sucks. But, it keeps the macro alive.

 

1449174862_FTS81.thumb.jpg.06f4a7798cf18a158f432de4cc1f5927.jpg

 

2022111307_Mandarin18.thumb.jpg.b381a170dc0d5f15838079c9f0f33f20.jpg

 

503540844_Mandarin28.thumb.jpg.715cdd1e8aceab1027c456fad804364a.jpg

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Recommended Discussions

×
×
  • Create New...