Mandarin Advice Please!

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AZL

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I set up a reef tank several months ago at the mental health organisation I run and a couple of my colleagues have become involved in maintaining it. One wanted a mandarin, as it is just big enough, there are a good amount of pods, and we're going to upgrade soon we got a juvenile about 2" long we got one from the private dealer I go to that I knew was eating bottled pods so at no risk of starving in our tank. Actually the little guy will gobble marine pellets as well which is surprising, we've been quite lucky as the coral gobys also eat well - pretty low maintenance tank, only other creatures are a pair of common clowns, a fire shrimp, and some soft corals. I realise mandarins are poisonous, how careful do we need to be with hands in the tank and what would the implications be if one of us accidentally touched him? I need to be able to risk assess and caution the others appropriately. Thank you! :)
 
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stella1979

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I wish I could give you an informative answer here but all I can say is that... I don't think most are very aware of the poison, or at least, not worried about it. It has been a long time since I've had a mandy but I do love the species enough to check in on most threads I see about them.;)

Okay, so here's my take... In reef tanks, there are a myriad of toxins that may be in the water at a given time. Sure, from fish, but perhaps released more often by corals and anemones. Consider palytoxin, one of the most dangerous substances on Earth, carried by some zoanthid and palythoa varieties. We don't generally know for sure if a particular variety carries palytoxin and even though most that are common in the hobby probably don't (I think!) it is just safest to protect oneself whenever handling zoas and palys.

Couldn't speak for every and all toxins but because most will need an entry point, a good rule of thumb is to NEVER put hands in the reef tank when you've got an open cut or wound. Always wash hands before and after putting them in the reef tank and if one will be handling corals (or a fish) outside of the tank, eye and mouth protection is also a good idea. For example, if I have a fresh cut on my hand, that hand won't go in the tank without a very long (to the shoulder) glove. Once that cut is scabbed over/healing, I no longer worry about gloving up or keeping the hand out. However, if I am fragging zoas, I do not take any risks. I wear goggles, a face mask, and gloves, plus, I keep the zoas in little cups of water as much as possible when doing such tasks.

Now, I know this isn't a direct answer to your question but I hope an explanation on how I keep myself and my family safe with the reef tank is helpful to you. :) Mandys are generally very nervous little creatures and I highly doubt the fish will allow contact. Congratulations on a fat and happy, absolutely gorgeous little fish. They are my favorite and I love them enough to know that I cannot have one at this time. Do keep an eye on your pod count and the little prince's eating habits and... I'd love a pic!:D
 
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AZL

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Thanks very much for that! I must admit I don't keep zoas or palys as I worry about the toxin affecting myself and those around me if I accidentally damage it nor do I keep nems as I'm far too attached to my fish and other creatures to risk them getting poisoned or eaten. I do find most of my fish interactive - some actually initiate contact, even the fire shrimp does so, and this little mandarin is already approaching me and the colleague who helps with the tank. Given where this tank is I'll put a warning sign up but everyone knows to keep hands out of the water apart from those helping me to care for the creatures. I'll get a good pic later :)
 
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AZL

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coralbandit

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I have mandarins since the 1980s. I lost my last one a couple years ago in a tank move ..He was replaced with a Ruby Red[I never knew ?]..
Without any research I would say their toxin to you and I is less then a weak bee sting if that can even be a comparison?
It is clearly toxic enough that other fish have no desire to eat them ! I believe it is greater at night when they sleep and slime ? They don't slime so much you clearly note like a parrot but enough that detritus will often stick to the slime in the AM..
Yours looks male [spike on dorsal ]..
Well done finding a good one and having a suitable tank.
I might give up marine if I didn't have a mandarin , comet or Ruby red ..They are must haves for me !
 

saltwater60

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I’ve had a few and never had issues. My one loves for years and he was rather big. My hands were in that tank daily and there’s not much wrong with me at this point. I’d say your fine. Wear gloves if it’s a concern to you since I’m sure the long term effects have never been studied ever.
 
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