Is there anyway to tell if I have an adequate pod population for a mandarin? I'm considering getting one but certainly don't want it to slowly starve. Anyway to monitor pod population after I get one? How can I help ensure an adequate supply?
my best advice is to try to find one eating prepared foods. i got a blue and green mandarin from my local fish store and she was eating prepared foods.
but yes check with your flash light and you should see lots of them. do you have a fuge for them to breed in, and sometimes in the tank itself you can have some rock rubble in the back for them to breed in.........
Yes to the flashlight; and try feeding phyto to the tank in fair frequent doses. This helps the pods. Probably, however, you will have to have a refugium backing up that 28 gal in pod production, and feed it a lot. I manage handily in a 52, at 6 months, with a refugium and extra phyto feeding.
If you lust after a mandarin, however, and are willing to go the expense, Reed Mariculture supplies pods-by-express as well as Phytofeast, and they're entirely reliable. If a mandarin has no other pod-eating competition you might eventually populate the tank heavily enough by supplementing that you can stop the mail orders, but I'd really recommend the refugium.
i have one of those specimen containers hanging in the top left corner of my tank, drilled thru and put live rock rubble, chaeto, I notice pods running around in there often and they breed happily and drop out the bottom when they want.
you can feed them reef chili once in a while
And my refugium is a heck of a bodge-job. I had help putting my system together and the help installed my sump backward. I was too new to the berliner method to know which end was up [or forward] and I have a wedge stand that just makes adding things a pain. So I tossed cheato in the downflow chamber, the one that originally had bioballs and a tray, [turbulent as Niagara] along with some live rock, put a light on it, put some embroidery canvas [fine plastic mesh] between that chamber and my skimmer, and put a rubberbanded bit of blue filter medium on my sump intake cone to make sure nothing got in. It's absolutely not what's recommended for a refugium, but the cheato is growing, the skimmer is skimming, and meanwhile the pods are turning up in the tank, because the mandarin is getting fat.