The Lightning Project

The ongoing saga of the PNG Lightning Maroon Clownfish Breeding Project

OMG Lightning Maroons

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A lesson to you all – beware of freakishly tall men in straw hats brandishing video cameras.

OMG Lightning Maroons

Come see ^ THIS GUY ^ give an epically animated talk this weekend at the 2014 Marine Breeder’s Workshop.  Yes. It has Lightning Maroons in it.

Thanks Kevin Erickson. That is all.

Spawn #37 is laid

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It felt like this one took a long time to happen; spawn #37 was laid this afternoon by the Lightning Maroon Clownfish and her white stripe mate, 7-12-2014.

That is all…

The first second-generation Lightning Maroon Clownfish, progeny of a F1 Lightning Maroon mated to an unrelated, Wild (F0) PNG White Stripe, produced by Sea & Reef Aquaculture.

The first second-generation Lightning Maroon Clownfish, progeny of a F1 Lightning Maroon mated to an unrelated, Wild (F0) PNG White Stripe, produced by Sea & Reef Aquaculture.

I had to sit on this news since last month as this was an exclusive for CORAL Magazine; now that the magazine is out I can shout it out – Sea & Reef Aquaculture has succeeded in producing a second generation of Lightning Maroon Clownfish by using LM12 (an F1 from my pair here) with an unrelated wild (FO) PNG White Stripe Maroon. Highlights include the same 50/50 offspring split, as well as the interesting fact that Sea & Reef used the Lightning as a male vs. female.

As it’s a CORAL Magazine exclusive, I invite all Lightning Maroon Clownfish fans to head over to Reef2Rainforest.com and read the EXPANDED online version there.  I should note, I actually didn’t want to write the story (I prefer to have people tell their own stories) but in the end, the job fell to me. I hope you enjoy!

4 more offspring up for bid in a Blue Zoo eBay auction.

4 more offspring up for bid in a Blue Zoo eBay auction.

Over the weekend, Blue Zoo started up 4 more eBay auctions for a few of the remaining fish I have to offer this summer.  These include the last 3 available fish from the June 29th, 2012 hatch; WS11, WS4, and LM11. LM19 is from spawn #14, the 10-24-2013 hatch, and is one of the best offspring I’ve raised to date (in my opinion). It is also a small fish at 1.5″, and would make an solid male in a pairing with a larger fish (of course, this is not without risks in trying to establish a pair).

>>>>> Just 2-3 days left to BID! <<<<<

This leaves only WS17 and LM20 for possible future auctions this summer if we so choose; I won’t have more fish at saleable size until fall or winter of this year.

*UPDATE* – Also, I should note, that Blue Zoo denoted LM19 as “best for last” in the auctions – we had been planning to keep LM19 for the last, but perhaps the wrong auction got made live or Blue Zoo changed the order but forgot to change the description.  So, as far as I know, it’s the “2nd to last”…

Spawn #36 missed

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Not really sure what happened on this one.  By all schedules, the evening of July 2nd, going in the morning of July 3rd, was the first “hatch night” for Spawn #36.  Somewhere shortly before midnight on the 2nd, we had a power outage.  It maybe lasted an hour, and when I got down into the basement, there was not a single egg on the tile, and not a single larvae swimming around in the tank. If I’m honest, it appears as though they may have hatched far earlier in the day, or perhaps were even eaten by the parents – normally there would have been SOME eggs left, but this time, nothing.  Did the fish freak out and eat the eggs during the power outage?  Frank, I don’t know. I don’t recall checking the nest at all today, so I really can’t say if it was even there in the AM.

And so ends spawn #36…

 

Over the course of the past couple years I’ve had a few Lightning Maroons go missing. Of course, there is the paranoid person who’d say someone is coming in and swiping them, but let’s be real for a second. You might recall the discovery of a Maroon that had traveled through my circulation pump; that one wound up dying, and surely some of the tiny brown hunks of “stuff” I’ve found on my floor over the years may well have been the end result of a Lightning Maroon or two along the way (I have covers on my cubes, but BRTs currently do not have covers).

You would think I’d learned my lesson by this point, but tonight I was doing my last round of feeding and I noticed that my holdback white stripe X white stripe pair was missing a female…what? I checked all over the floor..nope.  This actually gave me hope…I stirred up the tank a bit, still no fish.  HMM.  Well, their temporary BRT home sits directly over the sump, and sure enough, once I broke out the flashlight, there was the big girl just cruising around.

I netted her and was ready to move her back to the BRT when I stopped myself…there are 1 foot walls on the sump above the water level, while there’s only 1-2 inches about the surface of the BRT.  So….back to the sump she went, and after a few minutes her male sibling joined her down in the sump.  At some point they’ll get their own tank again…

Let this be a lesson to you – Clownfish can and do jump.  Lids on their tanks aren’t optional unless you’re willing to accept the possible outcome.

Spawn #27 came back to my fishroom on 6/20/2014, as Mike Doty has opted to do another run of Lightnings with spawn #36 (update on that as of 6-30, there were only about 10 that made it from Spawn #35 – Mike had some hatching issues this time ’round).

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I took the opportunity to do a headcount on Spawn #27 as I released the group into the BRT – provided I didn’t make any mistakes, the rough split was 28 Lightning Maroons, and 24 White Stripe Maroons.  Out of those 24 White Stripes, I maybe only noticed 3 that had extra markings and would fall into the “Morse Code” notion.

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I should point out that Mike and I discussed his rearing methodologies at great length; you’ll recall that part of the reason for allowing him to rear batches was to see if he could do any better, and my own effort to learn from him and work in collaboration. Say what you will, but the bottom line is that Mike reared spawn #27 with what amounts to a 50% water change weekly.  I can guarantee I was nowhere near that on some runs.  Of course, that’s not the only difference involved here…his methodology was to drain the standalone BRT half way each week, and gradually fill it back up over the course of the week, and then repeat.

It seemed like a very manageable system, and frankly it should be obvious that good base maintenance will get you good results.  There are still some deformed fish, but if I have to be honest, I think he reared a superior batch than the first big one. I’m going to look into segregating them out, as well as stepping up the water changes overall, as that can only help produce superior fish. It’s interesting to note that the sizes do vary immensely within the group, whereas the group of 10 I had going from around the same time is more homogeneous in size and has more patterning, and is comparable in size to these.  It will take a lot of really specialized research to hone in on some of the variables in play, but I look forward to doing that if I’m able.

Mike’s routine is hardly surprising – my breeding of Angelfish relied strongly on 50% weekly water changes, and based on published recommendations, while I took 3-4 months to hit market size doing 50% weekly water changes on growout, if I had stepped it up to 50% daily water changes, I would have cut my growout time down to 6 week!  Think about that.

Back in June, we (I, Blue Zoo Aquatics, and Sea & Reef Aquaculture) announced an unprecedented raffle contribution to the Marine Breeding Initiative (MBI) in recognition of the 5th Annual Marine Breeder’s Workshop, which is coming up quickly on July 19th, 2014, in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. In short, Blue Zoo and I contributed one of my holdback Lightning Maroon Clownfish, Sea & Reef contributed two F1 Morse Code Maroons from unrelated PNG Bloodlines to get one to pair with the Lightning Maroon, and Blue Zoo Aquatics footing the bill to ship the resultant pair to the winner within the continental US after the workshop.

Well, the first hurdle has been seen, and passed. On Wed., June 18th, Soren Hansen of Sea & Reef Aquaculture shipped out two select Morse Code Maroons from Maine, to Duluth, MN. In a turn of events that I think has never happened to me before, poor weather somewhere along the route caused UPS to fail to deliver the package that Thursday. Soren and I were quite anxious to see what was in the box when it finally arrived on Friday, June 20th.

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My son, Ethan, was eager to see what was in the box too!

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The moment of truth – was it a box of dead fish, or had Soren’s packing stood up to the challenge imposed upon the fish?

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Yes, that was Soren just going 2 for 2, successfully shipping fish an extra day without issues. The fish were honestly a little stressed out from the extra time in the bags. Both were placed into a 5 gallon bucket with a fair dosing of ChloramX to neutralize ammonia, and then were drip acclimated to reside a cube that had, for months, held my White Stripe X White Stripe holdback pair.

Initially, I thought I might pair up the smaller one with the holdback Lightning Maroon (MWP3), so for the first few days it was given the freedom to explore the main tank.

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Meanwhile, the larger Morse Code Maroon was acting a bit jealously. Every time I walked up to the tank, this was what I saw.

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So, I switched things up, and allowed the larger one to be out and about, while placing the smaller one into isolation. Here’s the larger one…

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The best part? 24 hours after releasing the larger one, I allowed the Lightning (MWP3) to join him. So far…not a single bit of bickering whatsoever.

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They don’t sleep together yet, but they don’t bicker or fight and they are indifferent about each other’s presence. Therefore, it’s hard to say that they’re a bonded pair, but they are 100% on the road to more solid bonding in the days, weeks, and months ahead. So, barring any changes or unforeseen murders, this will be the pair of fish up for raffle at the MBI Workshop!

Mike didn’t have a good hatch over the weekend on Spawn #35; I believe temperature issues were to blame.  Spawn #36 was laid on the afternoon of Thursday, June 26th, 2014.  If all goes according to plan that makes next Wednesday “hatch night”. Spawn #34 was a failure…I had run low on rotifers due to the success of Spawn #33, so by the time span #34 was down to a few fish, I just let it go.  I have yet to rear a single successful batch of Maroons in a standard 10 gallon aquarium – I know it can be done, but it hasn’t worked yet!  And yes, Spawn #33 is doing great, lots of good looking (but still very tiny) babies.

Over the past couple years I’ve talked about this with various scientists (mostly younger ones), who’ve considered scientific opportunities presented by the Lightning Maroon.  I thought I’d just put this out there in the greater context.

In short, as breeding progresses and Lightning Maroon Clownfish become more ubiquitous, one of the things that WILL happen is that the culling bar will be dramatically raised. This means that I will have fish that should be destroyed actually being destroyed vs. placed out there to established a foundation population in the name of having genetic hedges. With increased culling, I’m very willing to entertain requests and ideas for putting these sub-standard specimens to use for research purposes. I would be willing to furnish dead, preserved specimens (to a scientist’s specifications) of both Lightning and non-Lightning siblings, free of charge (you pay shipping, any chemical-related costs etc.)

So, it’s on the table…if you’re interested drop me a message through one of the many avenues I can be reached. Availability will of course be quite limited initially, and projects that are the most interesting me will be given preference if I’m able to support them at all. Don’t know how many culls I’ll have to offer either…so…I will help as I’m able.

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