Elder guardians are the biggest source of frustration while handling an underwater temple in Minecraft. There is a lot of loot to be found in underwater temples, but you will have to deal with elder guardians before you consider taking anything from an underwater temple. If one elder guardian exists in the temple you are attempting to raid, the guardian will inflict mining fatigue which makes mining a block take approximately 370 times longer than normal. Every underwater temple will have 3 elder guardians to defeat. This guide will outline the spawning, behavior, and drops of elder guardians in Minecraft.
Elder guardians are large variants of the guardians you can typically find spawning around underwater temples. Each underwater temple will have 3 elder guardians, one in the topmost room, and one in each wing. If one elder guardian exists in the underwater temple, you can still technically my blocks, but the time it takes is absurd. However, elder guardians will only spawn once during world generation, they will not respawn and you can despawn them easily by switching the difficulty to peaceful and back.
Since they only spawn in underwater temples, you will not have to tackle them unless you feel ready to do so.
Elder guardians behave almost identically to regular guardians. They will swim aimlessly until something wanders into its aggro range. They are hostile enemies and will attack you on sight. Elder guardians deal much more damage and have much more health than regular guardians. With 40 full hearts and up to 6 full hearts of damage with their laser attack, they are formidable opponents.
Once they see you they will begin charging a laser that grows brighter in color. Once it reaches its final stage of brightness you will take damage. This beam can be cut short or canceled if you manage to keep a block between you and the elder guardian. Like the smaller guardians, they are also capable of extending out spikes which will deal damage to you if you attack them.
If you are within 50 blocks of the elder guardian, they can inflict mining fatigue III on you. This is depicted by a “ghost” of the face of the elder guardian moving upwards across your screen.
This is to prevent you from being able to take anything and everything from the underwater temple without facing them. Because mining fatigue prevents you from quickly mining through the underwater temple, it can be difficult balancing your breathing meter as well as defeating all 3 of the elder guardians. Come prepared to an underwater temple with potions of water breathing and a well-enchanted trident to make the endeavor easier to handle.
Like all the other guardians the elder guardians will drop prismarine shards and have a small chance to drop prismarine crystals. They will always drop 1 wet sponge, which cannot be affected by the Looting enchantment. There is also a slot in their drops that has a small chance that they drop fish, prismarine crystals, or drop nothing at all.
Once you defeat all three elder guardians, you still have to keep an eye on your breathing meter, but you can wander around the temple without much worry. Since the elder guardians drop sponge, you can make use of the sponge to make small pockets of air for you to stop and take a breath before continuing to gather the prismarine blocks, the blocks of gold, or the sea lanterns from the underwater temple.
In a Nutshell:
Elder guardians are mini-bosses that you have to face in underwater temples in order to gain access to sponge, sea lanterns, and other prismarine blocks. They are quite difficult to manage without a good deal of preparation, but you can easily avoid their spike damage and their primary laser damage by staying at a distance with a trident. If you have a few water-breathing potions you can easily tackle an underwater temple if you have the appropriate equipment.
Congratulations, you now know how to handle one of the harder enemies in Minecraft. Elder guardians will only spawn once, and their sponge drop is to ensure that you have access to this unique block if a sponge room does not spawn in the underwater temple. They exist to prevent players from getting access to the drops from an underwater temple too quickly. Proceed with caution and keep a block between you and the guardian to easily take them down.
Underwater temples will always have 3 elder guardians and they will always spawn in the same positions. If you want to quickly dismantle an underwater temple, mine through the top of an underwater temple to kill your first guardian. While it may take a while to mine through mining fatigue, it makes for a simpler process than navigating through the maze-like layout of an underwater temple. Do the same for both wings of the temple and you can reap your rewards very quickly.
While you can drink milk to get rid of mining fatigue, this is only really helpful if you had passed by an underwater temple and you do not want to concern yourself with the temple just yet. The debuff still lasts for 5 minutes so even if you are just passing by, you will want to drink some milk to get rid of this annoying debuff. If you are nearby an underwater temple and looking to quickly remove mining fatigue, the only way to do so is to kill the elder guardians. Drinking milk will cleanse the debuff, but the elder guardians will quickly reapply it to you.
The sponge drop from elder guardians is static. You cannot get extra with a looting enchanted weapon in either version of Minecraft. Since there are 3 guardians in every underwater temple, each temple you clear is guaranteed to give you 3 sponges. If you are looking to get more sponges, you can obtain more through the sponge treasure rooms that can sometimes generate in underwater temples.