live food for mandarin fish, live copepods for saltwater tank

The Lovely Mandarin

Salt water aquariums can house some of the most beautiful fish. It is a hypnotic experience to watch these creatures move through their underwater world with such grace and beauty. Among the many beautiful fish that are popular aquarium dwellers, the Mandarin goby is one of the most dazzling.

live food for mandarin fish, live copepods for saltwater tankThe Mandarin fish is also known as, and commonly referred to as, the Mandarin Dragonet. There are several types of Mandarin, varying by color, such as the spotted Mandarin, stripped “psychedelic” Mandarin, green Mandarin, and red Mandarin. All Mandarins are brightly colored, with hues ranging from bright blue, red, green, yellow and orange; arranged in exquisite stripes, spots and patterns. Mandarins are arguably the loveliest fish found in many saltwater aquariums.

Growing up to 3 inches in length and native to the South Pacific, Mandarin fish are found on sandy ocean floors between rock and reef crests. They can be found in groups or in pairs and are very docile.

The Mandarin’s non aggressive nature and beautiful colors make them a popular choice for aquarium hobbyists, but with this popularity comes some drawbacks. Mandarin fish are very finicky eaters and due to this, they are the most likely fish to die when introduced into a new aquarium. Mandarins feed primarily on copepods and amphipods and prefer live copepods and amphipods to frozen foods or pellets. Add to their picky eating habits the fact that they are a slow moving fish, slower than other aquarium fish that will get to the food first, and the feeding problem is compounded. In short, if they don’t like the food and are too slow to get to any live food, they will starve.

When introducing Mandarin Dragonets into an aquarium it is important to have enough rock and coral to mimic their natural environment. The rock and coral also help in building up a natural environment for live copepods to hide, reproduce, establish a colony and provide a renewable food source. By using live food for Mandarin fish a food chain is created, the fish is well fed and you are one step closer to a sustainable aquarium.

The Mandarin fish is a beauty. Their calm nature and striking colors make them a wonderful addition to any saltwater aquarium. With special handling and preparation, a Mandarin will happily transition to your aquarium and become a brightly colored, pretty new addition.

341 thoughts on “The Lovely Mandarin”

    1. Yes this was the first fish i wanted for my tank but then found out you need a more seasoned tank to support them.

    2. I would love to get s pair of mandarin fish, had one many years ago but wasn’t able to keep him alive(non pods avail back then)

    3. I hope a Mandarin will find me, anytime, any day. Here I am your special reefkeeper, come away, come away…. Mandarin, Mandarin, Mandarin!

      Yes I will sing it if I win it

  1. Meghan Corvington

    These fish are so amazing, but so sad that so many die due to improper knowledge of feeding. Great quick read!

  2. I can’t believe AlgaeBarn is making this contest happen. This is once in a lifetime to win some mandarins

  3. Javan Argenal

    These are the reason why I started the hobby and I havent owned 1 yet ;( mainly because I’ve read they can be picky and I wanted a bigger tank before I got 1 and now I have the bigger tank with a sump and refuge for the copepods to feed my future fish, so it would be so awesome to win my first fish for the tank 🙌🏻

  4. Just love Mandarins. A pair would be awesome. I picked up a couple of yellow tangs from AlgaeBarn they are doing great.

  5. Javan Argenal

    These are the reason why I started this hobby and I still haven’t owned one 🙁 I wanted to wait until I have a bigger tank and now I finally do (150gallons) with a sump/refuge for copepods to feed these beautys so it would be awesome if I won, to have these as my first fish for my tank !!🙌🏻

  6. When I was a kid mandarins were about $100 and nearly impossible to keep. I’ve always wanted one but still have never owned one.

  7. I think the most important message in this article for all hobbyists is that “they are the most likely fish to die when introduced into a new aquarium.” As tempting as it may be, it is in the best interest for everyone to ensure your tank is established and stabilized before you add this magnificent fish.

  8. Love algae barns phyto and pods. I’ve used them to initially set up my tank and now they are all over the place!

  9. Lindsey Smith

    I’ve loved this fish since before I set up my first saltwater tank. Such a beautiful creature!! I’ve been growing pods in my reef for 8 months to get ready for a mandarin!

  10. My favorite fish. I have spent the last months preparing my tank to have enough copepods and amphipods to add this beautiful fish shortly

  11. Michael Wilkshire

    I have a captive bred Mandarin in my 120 gallon reef. I’d love to have a pair for my 50 gallon cube.

  12. I’ve got pods and phyto from algae barn and both were amazing! I always love seeing such a great company do giveaways 🙂

  13. I love mandarin fish and the colors but finding a good eater that’s both healthy and reef ready, that’s hard thanks to algae barn it’s a heck of a lot easier and I can’t wait for more!

  14. I’m still amazed that mandarins are being captive bred. Hopefully more fish start being captive bred!

  15. The mandarin is a beautiful and majestic fish, and it will grace the tank if anyone should ever choose to own one.

  16. My favorite fish. I have spent the last months preparing my tank to have enough copepods and amphipods to add this beautiful fish shortly.

  17. Brandon Stickel

    Mandarin’s are awesome and it’s so muc easier now to keep them. You don’t ave to setup a huge pod culturing setup. It’s pretty cool.

  18. its great to see that aquacultured marine life is becoming more popular expeciall for a species that is relatively difficult for many to keep

  19. They’re the most stunning fish I’ve seen in this hobby and I’m glad they’re now being captive bred.

  20. Robert Espinosa

    Mandarins are definitely one of the most beautiful fish available for home aquariums. I so glad so much info is available now to be able to successfully keep these beauties.

  21. it’s a beautiful fish I got mine a long time a go when you had to get on the algeabarn webpage and order and paid within 5 minutes or they were all sold

  22. Beautiful fish, make sure you have an established population of pods to feed them, from Algae Barn of course.

  23. Alexandra Hawley

    I love reading the articles on here as they provide such great information especially for beginners! The mandarins are awesome!

  24. Rhonda Swetnam

    This is my DREAM fish! Love Algae Barn; your pods are great as are your urchins and macro algae! Your customer service is A+++ You guys are the best! Thanks so much for putting on this contest! Good luck everyone!

  25. After 10+ years of having a saltwater tank I think I’m finally ready to try a mandarin. Their private tank is up and running just waiting on them!

  26. Scott Weinrich

    These mandarins are so much easier to feed than the those wild caught. I love supporting captive breeding g!

  27. Michael Lawrence

    Great fish addition to a Mature Reef Tank able to support their nutritional needs long term.
    After 4 years my 210 has a diverse population of copepods, Amphipods and mysis shrimp within the display and constantly being delivered to the whole system through the Refugium tank connected remotely to the main tank. I as well as my tank are ready for Mandarin additions from Algae Barn.

  28. I am new to the saltwater hobby, but as soon as I saw that these mandarin hobbies were something I can have in my aquarium I knew I had to have one.

  29. Jackie Gerardi

    Mandarins are my favorite fish by far. I hope to win a pair to join my seahorse tank ❤️🤙🏻

  30. Angela Siddons

    I have one of these. Incredibly beautiful and one of my favorites to watch. The colors are spectacular, and it’s got a great personality. It follows a finger, and it a huge hit with kids!

  31. daniellenseymour

    Mandarin’s are what drew me to reef tanks, I’ve been slowly growing a pod population to sustain them and am pretty much ready to go. I love these gorgeous fish.

  32. Hopefully the captive bred are easier to feed it would be great for the hobby, and open it up to the more inexperienced hobbyist.

  33. This is great new’s and congratulation’s to Biota and everyone involved in captive breeding fish. Look forward to seeing more species in the future so that we can reduce our impact on the ocean.

  34. Easily think these are one of the most beautiful type of fish for an aquarium. The vibrant colors and the way they swim around the bottom of the tank is just so mesmerizing to watch.

  35. Great fish. These should only be captive bred. Beautiful fish and it would be sad if they were wiped out in nature.

  36. Robert Espinosa

    Mandarins are an awesome addition to any reef tank. Would love to win these pairs. Thanks Algae barn for the opportunity.

  37. They are one of my top three fish I want to own. Mandarins are so beautiful. I have been dosing my tank with pods to be able to get one.

  38. Madarin’s are my favorite saltwater fish. I’m so glad that they’re being bred captively now and have more of a fighting chance of surviving in tanks now.

  39. Mandarins are very beautiful in color, don’t be fooled by their looks. They are very teritoral. Having a pair would be a blessing.

  40. Mandarins have some of the most vibrant colors, and have the most interesting behavior. That would do well in my aquarium I’m sure.

  41. Mandarins are one of my favorite fish,
    I never got the opportunity to have one and because of their difficult to care back then, make me step back. But this days with the captive breeds and with the accessibility to pods. I will love to enjoy them in my DT.

  42. It’s super important to have a lot of rock thanks you alas barn for the pointers on how to successfully keep a fish like this the color and the Reuter’s of the fish are do to what they eat thanks !!!

  43. I’ve been out of the hobby for a few years and now just getting back into it and now the green mandarin are Going to be the next fish I get

  44. I’ve had my first Mandarin for a year next month. They are beautiful fish & one of the main reasons I got into the hobby. I did alot of research before purchasing my first one & seeded my tank with Algae Barn pods months before I brought her home. I’m also careful about not putting too many other pod eaters in the same tank. Over time, I’ve also been able to get my Mandarins to eat live baby brine shrimp, vitamin enriched live adult brine shrimp, salmon eggs, frozen mysis & frozen bloodworms.

  45. I love my Biota Mandarin Dragonet. It is such a beauty and the colors are really vivid. I’m so excited to see him grow out.

  46. Hi! I am getting my tank setup for a mandarin. Once I go through tje cycle process when should I start adding pods to build up the numbers?

    1. You want to be sure your chemistry is stable, 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite, 5-10 nitrate. At that point it should be prime time to add pods, phyto, and your first fish!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *