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05-23-2012, 09:17 PM
After having watched my mandarin for the past few years, I've realized the vast majority of what he eats is too small to see. Mandarins prefer benthic (bottom dwelling) pods, the tiny ones like the Tisbe's you ordered off of ebay. You're assuming that because you see Dilly strike, but don't see the food that "he's" not getting any. In fact, I've found that my guy rarely misses - it's just that the target is too small for us to see with an unaided eye. Grab a magnifying glass and you should be able to see them. I'd estimate my Mandarin (George) strikes every 5~10 seconds all day long, every day and rarely am I able to see what he's eating.
If your concerned about having enough, you should start a culture - it's extremely simple.
I maintain cultures of Tigriopus califoricus also called Tigger Pods (Tigger Pods is a registered Trademark of Reed Mariculture) and Tisbe. While the Tigriopus multiple rapidly in culture, they are of little value to my Mandarin as they largely remain in the water column and are large enough to be seen by the other fish (Clowns love them.) This results in them being consumed before the Mandarin has a chance.
Whether Tigriopus will breed at reef temps is debated - to me, it's irrelevant as they are eaten long before they have an opportunity to reproduce. The Tisbe are much smaller and reside where the Mandarin can find them and without being noticed by other fish.
Both are very simple to culture, bucket, saltwater, very little air (it's not really needed if the culture container is shallow, at most a couple bubbles per second) no heater, no light and Phyto - then ignore them. I use a lid to control evaporation and add phyto when the bottom of the bucket becomes visible. I use 7 gallon buckets, and occasionally add more saltwater to dilute the ammonia and do a water change every couple months. After a couple weeks, you'll have pods everywhere, enough to keep Dilly more than satisfied an they will continue to multiple after being added to your tank.
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