For a long time,
my Blue Mandarinfish was very happy in my 29-gallon tank,
and ate prepared foods, much to my delight. I therefore never
worried much about her. In my 280-gallon reef, however, she
was actually starving to death due to stress from the other
mandarins that were harassing her, as well as from the voracious
tangs that would circle her at feeding time and get every
morsel off the sand before she had a chance to get in the
That is when I remembered that she had been able to eat on
her own in the previous tank, but that she had required some
alone time. So, about 3 months ago, I started putting food
into a spaghetti sauce jar, and lowering it into the tank.
At her leisure, the mandarin could go in and get some Formula
One or Formula
Two small pellet food whenever she was interested. Here
is how it all started...
November 16, 2004
Since this mandarin used to eat pellet
food in my 29-gallon tank, I decided to make a mandarin feeder.
My tangs are voracious, and love to eat pellet foods; my mandarin
was no longer getting her fair share.
I used a long, empty glass bottle, added the pellets first
and then some tank water, and gave the pellets a few seconds
to sink to the bottom of the jar. I then lowered it into the
corner where the mandarin frequently visits. As you can see,
the tangs were quite interested in the pellets, pecking at
the glass quite a bit.
The next thing I knew, the wrong guy got in there, and was
A few minutes later, the intended patron found the food supply,
and dined at the all-you-can-eat seafood buffet for about
five or ten minutes.
Soon a gentleman caller came by to join her, but never made
it past the maitre d'. About thirty minutes later, the buffet
was gone as if it had never existed. All that remained were
the busboys, a pair of Nassarius snails.
The problem was that the other fish liked that food too,
and the smaller tangs would fold up their fins and slip into
the jar to get the food and back right out again. I watched
my huge Naso tang hover in front of the mouth of the jar,
waving its fins back and forth to create current which would
wash the pellets out into the open where it could get them.
He was very adept at this, and I saw him do it often.
December 15, 2004
So, after a month, I finally bought
an olive jar, to limit the size of the fishes that could enter
the "Diner." I heated a piece of acrylic and wrapped
it around the jar to act as a handle for easy daily removal.
I even tried feeding her some newly-hatched brine shrimp,
but that really didn't work out so well. I never bothered
trying it a second time.
January 15, 2005
I've continued to use a mixture of the two pellets every
day, and the mandarin is almost back to her original plump
self. Keep in mind that I feed newly-hatched brine to the
tank every day, with the pumps off. This allows the smaller
fish the opportunity to eat, while the larger fish just wade
through the food like whales.
Other fish still go into the "Mandarin
Diner," including my Six-line wrasse, the Lawnmower blenny
and the Blue damsels... but the tangs can only hover near
the jar's opening hoping for stray pellets to accidentally
make their way out.
Various snails and hermits go into the "Diner"
at night, and each morning I refill it for the new day, with
about 1 teaspoon of pellets. If there is too much food in
the jar, it tends to rot and ferment, and an air bubble forms
in the jar. That is a good indicator of overfeeding. If that
has occurred, I dump the remains in the sink and rinse the
jar out with tap water, then use less food at the next feeding.
I have four mandarins in my tank, but the Blue mandarins
are the ones that are constantly near the jar. They travel
the full range of the tank, but know the food is to be found
at the "Mandarin Diner" daily. At times I've lifted
the "Diner" with fish in it, dropped in more food
and placed it back down into the tank. Other times, I put
the food down onto the substrate, and within 10 seconds the
mandarin goes right in. Click the button to see a (4.6MB).
I'm really glad this has worked out so well, as are they.