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Mandarin Dragonet and Scooter Blenny Compatibility

PoppinthekapPoppinthekap Posts: 111
I currently have a scooter blenny in my tank and I am curious if a mandarin dragonet would be compatible with him if I add one?

Peace, Poppinthekap :cool:


  • edited May 2009
    As far as "agressive behavior" both of these fish are probably about as docile as any marine fish you can find and would most likely coexist with one another, especially in a tank of your size. However, both of these fish can be somewhat difficult to keep because of the demanding diet they require. These fish will do best if you have a lot of mature live rock in your tank with lots of copapods and other "critters" that they feed off of...sure there are other foods to supplement their diets that they may take but a majority of their time is spent combing rock and sand searching for 'pods'. You may be able to keep them both in a 125 provided your system incorporates a sump with a refugium where 'pods' will thrive and make their way back into the DT. If you already have the Scooter Blenny, adding a Dragonet may create too much of a competition for these 'pods' which are usually their primary diet source...but, then again, I have heard of others who get their scooters and mandarins to eat other prepared foods too. Personally, I wouldn't add a mandarin if you already have a scooter blenny.
  • SnappySnappy Posts: 34
    edited May 2009
    I agree with that as well. Eventually one or both will likely starve unless you can train them to eat frozen foods or keep adding in large amounts of live pods. Especially if you keep any wrasses as well there just won't be enough live food in a 125 gal tank so they will slowly starve to death.
  • PoppinthekapPoppinthekap Posts: 111
    edited May 2009
  • edited July 2009
    If you have a refugium and your tank is 6-12 months old they will be fine together. You will also need to have 50-125lbs of established live rock or lots of macro algae. A 115 gallon is about as small as you go for keeping these two fish together. Other pod eating fish such as Pseudochromis, Hawkfish, Pipefish, and most Wrasses should not be kept with them as they are too much competition for the live foods they seek.

  • Blue AssessorBlue Assessor Posts: 3
    edited January 2010
    I know this is a year or two late, but since I stumbled across this, I figure maybe more people might also, so I'll offer my knowledge as well.

    I agree with all the posted opinions. Bugs are key to keeping these guys happy. Extremely porous live rock, lots of it, with spaces where fish cannot get that bugs can live, a refugium with a healthy growth of macro algae (nothing beats several different species of caluerpa under a 24 hour light!), and a lack of fast feeding fish are how you maintain these bugs. An easy way to assess the bug population is to shine a flashlight into the tank at night when the lights have been off for a while. Look along the surface of the substrate in the corners and along the walls, as well as around the base of the rock work. If you don't see them, or just one or two, you're not ready for the Dragonets. You want to see lots of them. In a really good tank, you can see them during the day running or swimming about in their little low current fish proof areas, like a rock up against the glass on the side or back of a tank. The dragonets are not fish for new tanks. General rule of thumb is large amounts of live rock that have been established for at least six months. Research Copepods and Amphipods to learn more about these little buggies. They actually have their own dynamics going on. You can see Copepods swimming about, chasing each other out of their areas and doing some cool maneuvering. If your Dragonet is thinning out, and you have plenty of bugs in your refugium, then as long as you know it’s not a parasite/disease problem with that fish or a slow fish losing food to a fast or aggressive fish, you can manually move the bugs to your display by moving what they live in up to the tank or into a bucket. Macro algae rocks or masses are best when moved to a bucket first, swish them about, then net out any plant pieces that may get the idea to root across your zooanthids before pouring the bugs in. A bare rock can be dunked directly into the tank a few times. A porous piece of foam or mass of plastics sold for use for mechanical and biological filtration can be dunked too, or suction cup+zip tied to a wall of the tank and remain there overnight so the bugs will come out more willingly.

    If you don't know the difference between fast and slow feeding fish, just watch a dragonet for a few minutes. When they are comfortable, they hop about the rock work on the hunt. Typical behavior is hop about a half an inch, look around, peck, hop, look around peck, hop, look around, peck.... ad infinitum. Whereas a Six-line Wrasse will do more of a chomp, chomp, chomp, chomp, dashing about the whole time - the typical frenzy feeding most fish do when you feed them. Very different. Fast feeders will very happily eliminate your bug population as quickly as they can. Decide if your fish allow for the bug population necessary to maintain multiple numbers of Dragonets. Of course the same goes for any new arrivals you may want to add after the Dragonets are established as well. Remember some other animals eat bugs too, like certain brittle stars with the knobby/spiny growths on the legs, some corals, larger filter feeders, shrimp and crabs(the only crabs I would keep in my tank live in corals and never leave them), and so on.....

    Lots of rocks, lots of bug havens, lots of macro algae in the refugium, and no fast feeders or territorial, aggressive fish....

    Yes, most can learn to take frozen foods. Mysis of the right size (baby mysis) is usually a good staple, though I highly recommend supplementing all foods for all fish with a marinating and freezing process. Use spirulina powder and HUFA, Highly Unsaturated Fatty Acids, garlic to deter parasites, along with some good quality (Read The Ingredients!) flake foods that you have powdered and mixed into the liquid marinate. Add some caluerpa to the mix as well. Not only will it help to congeal the food together, but it also contains (caluerpacin*), which makes caluerpa a miracle plant when it comes to fish dis-eases of all types. (Pinch the caluerpa first where you want to break it apart, then come back a moment or so later and break it off, to help the plant start the healing process – caluerpa doesn’t have cell walls so it is possible for it to “bleed out”) All fish should receive algae and vegetable mater in their diet. We’re trying to simulate an oceanic environment with all that has to offer and that includes the massive variety of foods. And a lion and lionfish only eat live food, but remember that live food has been eating greenery. If mom made you eat it, put it in. Broccoli, peas, carrots, spinach, kale, blah blah blah. See the ingredients of HBH Veggie Flakes for an excellent example to the variety you want to provide. If you choose to juice your own veggies and greens, of course remember to clean them well first, and then once they are juiced (/prepared for serving if it’s for larger fish) freeze them to rupture the cellulite walls of the land plants, as saltwater fish are not equipped to do this themselves.

    A particular note. Training these guys to frozen foods is possible, but not guaranteed. They don't always make that switch. That's why a bit of extra liquids and little pieces from the frozens that your fish miss are ok because hopefully the bugs will get it and then the Dragonets get it from the bugs. Be aware that the Synchiropus pictatus is the least likely to accept food that isn't alive. They like their bugs. In my experience, I only know one that readily ate mysis, and she was the only fish in a reef tank, and kind of our co-worker. She wasn't for sale, and had a great personality! Maybe one or two times someone told me their Synchiropus pictatus was also accepting frozen foods.

    I've said all that because that is the deciding factor to answer your question. As for how many, it depends all on the food that is available to them.

    You can keep as many Dragonets as you can provide for. Here is the key: Only One Male. All the rest are going to have to be female.

    Males are the guys with the longer first ray on the first dorsal fin. When the fins are displayed, it's pretty obvious if you have a longer rayed male. If the fins are held down along the length of the body, as they usually are, it can be a bit more challenging to see that ray, but a close inspection will give you the answer. Compare pictures on the web or fish in a store and you can tell the difference. Again the Synchiropus pictatus is the exception. The initial dorsal ray on these fish is much less pronounced, but it is still longer on males than on females. Comparing several will make it obvious to you. (Please remember that I am only addressing the Synchiropus species that are common in the aquarium trade. Other species may not have a longer initial ray, but rather the entire first dorsal is larger than that of the female of the species.)

    That's it! Easy! These are great, completely non-aggressive, laid back fish that are in their own little world. Beautiful to behold and I personally never tire of watching them inspecting my rock work, and with time, they can come to be responsive to us like most fish do. Nothing complements a beautiful reef tank full of color better than a fish that is just as colorful itself, except for several different ones with different color patterns!

    My personal preference is a male Synchiropus stellatus with at least one female to join him. At times they will move about together. I love the contrast of the red on white coloration. They are easily camouflaged in some areas, and stand out brilliantly on other backgrounds of the same tank. Occasionally individual Synchiropus ocellatus and Synchiropus marmoratus will also have a more red than brown coloring, but I find the stellatus to be a much cleaner white and a more uniform red. Add to that a female Synchiropus splendidus and a female Synchiropus pictatus and I've got at least four remarkably colorful fish that my ecosystem supports with no special care from me. A few times I got to see my pair of stellatus swim side to side - the lower/back halves of their bodies pressed together, upwards to the surface with a release of eggs into the water! (Yeah, I spend a lot of time in front of the tanks!)
    I want to clarify that these are Dragonets. They are neither Blennies nor Gobies. They are in the Callionymidae family, not the Blenniidae or the Gobiidae families. I encourage people to address them as Dragonets when in conversation. (I just cut that down from a really long rant… lucky you!)
    I hope this information helps. I apologize for all of the tangents, but I feel the information is important, and that’s how we do it on my home world. Much Peace!

    *It’s been a while, and my book has been missing for ages so I don’t remember if I have the name and spelling correct here. Couldn’t find it on the web. Consult The Baensch Marine Atlas – Volume 1 for a 33 page chapter on caluerpa for this and some other amazing information about this group of macro algae.
  • edited February 2010
    Thanks for the info on Scooter blenny. I just got one but at the time was under the impression it was a eyelash lawnmower . My tank has only been up and running for a month it has cycled and has a few pods but not enough for the sb like i have read. It doesnt seem to like the frozen mysis yet and the store wont take him back so I am going to do the best I can to keep him alive. Your info was very helpful if you know of anything else I can do to help him let me know.

    100 gal., refugium with caliper plants, rock, 2 clowns,3 damsels, 8 small hermits, 4 cerith snails, and 4 peppermint shrimp
  • Blue AssessorBlue Assessor Posts: 3
    edited April 2011
    Thanks for the info on Scooter blenny. I just got one but at the time was under the impression it was a eyelash lawnmower . My tank has only been up and running for a month it has cycled and has a few pods but not enough for the sb like i have read. It doesnt seem to like the frozen mysis yet and the store wont take him back so I am going to do the best I can to keep him alive. Your info was very helpful if you know of anything else I can do to help him let me know.

    100 gal., refugium with caliper plants, rock, 2 clowns,3 damsels, 8 small hermits, 4 cerith snails, and 4 peppermint shrimp

    Sorry for the delay in responding. Hope you've still got the little guy with you. Options I can think of for giving him more food would be:

    Add more live rock or living corals. These need to be more porous (the base of the live corals or the rocks they are on) so you are more likely to be adding more bugs within the rocks. Any live rock you consider should not smell bad/rotten. You want to find fresh rock that has nothing on it or in it that will not survive in the aquarium environment. Ask the knowledgeable people where you are getting the rock from to help you with this. Also ask for any rocks that have been sitting in the store for a long time. These may not have the coralline algae on them due to a lack of light, but it's the bugs you're looking for. Many aquariums that have this category of rocks in them will have pods swimming about in the corners and shaded areas if you look closely for them.

    I think one of the best living corals for this purpose is the Pipe Organ, Tubipora musica. It's one of the two soft corals that makes a skeletal structure, and that structure is a great place for bugs to live. Live colonies do best in higher current, though if it's too strong you'll be able to tell because the polyps won't expand where the current is too much for them, so adjust current/coral accordingly. You may also be able to find Tubipora skeletons in stores where they have died. As always, smell for rotting organics before purchasing. If there are only a few polyps left living on a specimen you can ask for a discount on that piece, and, given proper care and environment, the coral will grow and expand. Algae can be a problem on the skeleton where polyps no longer live. The easiest way to handle this is to break the living portion from the skeleton and attach it to your rock work. Place the remainder of the skeleton in a shaded area. You'll find the skeletons are very delicate, so be careful when handling living or dead pieces, and when separating the surviving polyps from the main piece. They are beautiful corals!

    Plants will often be full of pods as well. The more spaces within the rocks or plants, the more bugs are likely to be there. For plants, be sure it is a hardy aquarium species, that you have the proper lighting for it, and know it's growing habit. If it spreads and covers up corals by growing too fast, best to keep it in a refugium rather than get pissed at me six months from now!

    Live 'pod cultures can be purchased at some stores, and perhaps found on the internet. It's a good way to get them into your tank, but you will be paying for them as well as the rock/coral/plants.

    Freshly hatched brine shrimp are an option if you want to do the extra labor. In my experience, keeping them in the refrigerator with an air pump and air stone that circulates the entire body of water is a good way of keeping brine shrimp alive longer. Know that freshly hatched brine shrimp are a nice treat, and may help your scooter, but brine shrimp become nutritionally worthless as they grow. You can feed them Spirulina powder. Just a small bit! Perhaps add some HUFA - Highly Unsaturated Fatty Acids - added to them would be beneficial as well? I'll let you Google those, but HUFA is what you soak your live seahorse food in to keep your seahorses healthy.

    I would continue to offer the mysis and any other small frozen meaty foods, especially those combined with spirulina and other plants. Scooters seem to be the most likely of common Dragonets to eat frozen foods, while the Green Spotted Dragonets (Synchiropus picturatus) seem to be the least likely. Though I have met one female Synchiropus picturatus that was a co-employee at a store I worked at who did eat the frozen foods. A brittle starfish or a few are excellent janitors that will get any food the fish don't get, and they can reach places where hermits can't to get that big mysis that your 'pods won't be able to clean up like they can the tiny "filter" foods. Adding a few of the frozen offerings when you add the live ones will help the scooter learn to identify the frozen food with eating, and perhaps in time they will give it a try.

    Now I've read your comment more closely:

    Not sure what caliper plants are, but any plants are beneficial in my opinion because they do what your protein skimmer does, and more! It's the growth rate and habit that you want to be certain about....

    Ceriths are great! Get more for a tank that big if you want, and consider adding a few brittle stars. They are a real treat to catch a glimpse of, when food hits the water the come running, and all the rest of the time if you know where they hang out, you can almost always see them if you look for them. And for the few that stay hidden, they are still there, I would normally see mine every few months. There are some great colors, but Avoid the green Serpent Stars, they will catch and eat fish.

    For 100 gallons, 30lbs of rock is minimal. I would consider more, definitely so if you plan on keeping the Dragonets.

    (Remember I'm extremely opinionated when it comes to what animals go in my tanks, because once it's in I probably have to take the tank apart to remove it, I individually select every single animal I add to my systems and am very attached to them so don't want any other animal picking on them in any way.) Here is what is going on in your tank:

    You have 3 damsels and 2 clowns. Clowns are actually types of damsels, and most have the same disposition - "My tank My rock My food My place for raising babies and You are Right Out!" They eliminate food as quickly as they see it, and they hunt for it all the time they aren't bullying tank mates. Ocellaris and Percula clowns are less aggressive, so it comes down to the individuals of these if you have either of these types. You probably have the damsels because the store and popular rule of thumb tells you you have to have them to start/cycle your tank - in actuality your live rock did this when you added it as it already has the beneficial bacteria on/in it. If you cured your live rock in the tank, that was the cycling process as well. Unless you're emotionally attached to them, I would recommend getting rid (take them to a store and you may get store credit or just give them to the store or a friend who keeps more aggressive fish) of the damsels if you want to keep Dragonets. I would consider a store that sold you a Dragonet when they know you have damsels to be inconsiderate of the Dragonet's welfare and of you as a customer and probably only interested in taking your money (we already know this is true since they sold you a scooter for a month old tank!) rather than your success as a aquarist.

    Personally, I love the Gold Banded Maroon Clownfish (Premnas biaculeatus), so when I keep them, they live in my refugium/sump that is set up so animals and plants cannot be sucked into any filtration equipment.

    I skip all crabs, except the ones that live in corals all the time. Paguritta hermit crabs - tiny, colorful with two long feathery fronts used for filter feeding - and the different symbiotic coral commensal crabs that live in branching small polyp stony corals.

    Coral Crabs
    Tiny crab protects coral

    I'm betting you were told the hermit crabs would help you. True, they will eat algae and extra food that your fish miss, but they also walk across corals, sometimes eating some, they eat all manner of things on your live rock that you will never know had been there, as well as your plants, and a really big thing for me since I employee many types of small snails to eat algae, they eat those too! Consider: how big are your hermits? Will they be growing? If so they need new shells. Your Ceriths have shells! If they are big enough, they can damage your fish as well. I consider brittle starfish to be much more effective and much less damaging to my tanks.

    So yeah, if I got your tank, I'd keep the Peppermints, the Ceriths, the Scooter, and add more rock and plants. I would also hunt out a better quality store, or a better employee in the store you've been going to. Sorry I talk so much. Hope it's working out for you!
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