The jist of it is they are very difficult to feed. The lengths you would have to go to in order to keep them alive in a small tank without a huge pod population would eventually begin to naw on your last nerve and in most cases not even possible to do.
You could ask the LFS what the fish has been eating. If he tells you it has begun to eat something other than pods ask to see this with your own eyes. Tell him to feed the fish. If this is the case and the fish has been trained to eat prepared foods then you may consider giving it a go.
Doesn't really matter how many you have right now, in your size tank, they will be depleted quickly, then what will the mandrin eat? You can never reproduce them as quickly as a mandrin (and other inhabitants) can eat them.
Please don't make the same mistake we did. Our LFS said a scooter blenny would be perfect to put into our newly cycled 55 gallon. In fact, they recommended 3 of them but we wanted to start slow. Well, our poor little guy was slowly starving to death and thankfully we started a reef about a month later which had a good pod population in it so we moved him over. Now let me tell you, we had tons of pods in the tank and he has illiminated them in a matter of a week. From what I have heard, scooters are very similar to mandarins as they are in the same family (dragonets). Just to let you know, we are now setting up a refuge which is bigger than our display tank to give this little baby some much needed food and hopefully give him a great home in the end since our LFS won't take him back. BTW, pods are "little critters" that you will notice in the sand and live rock in your tank. They are about the size of ants and look like teeny tiny shrimp. You will only see them at night usually. I like you would love to have a mandarin but know that in no way could I give it a home for a long time and keep it happy. Sorry to be such a downer just want to let you know about our mistake.
I read in another thread about growing "pods" for the mandarins. It said to use a small plastic container ( like one strawberries come in) and put it upside down in the tank so there will be plenty of pods for the mandarins to eat. But I cant remember what else to put inside the container. What do the pods grow on?
Originally Posted by DAVE_15
i have one in my 29 i had it for about 2 years and its doing great
for every success story there are a 1000 failures. The large majority of mandarins will only eat live pods.. and you can't keep enough pods in a 29 gallon for them.