The Lightning Project

The ongoing saga of the PNG Lightning Maroon Clownfish Breeding Project

Just jotting down notes…Spawn #45 of the wild Lightning Maroon pair happened on the evening of 11-19-2014.  Meanwhile, LxL (the F1 Lightning Pair) Spawn #5 was gone by the same day….they obviously didn’t like me tiling their entire tank. I need to go by more terra cotta flowerpots…maybe they’ll like that.

So much going on and I’m NOT doing a proper job of tracking things.

I should start with the unrelated F0 PNG White Stripe Maroon Clownfish pair…they spawned sometime last week, possibly Wednesday the 12th. I didn’t make much of a fuss about documentation of it because I knew I couldn’t deal with them at any rate; I can’t remember if it was very late Sunday night, or more likely Monday afternoon, when I found the last few eggs just sitting around in the tank.  This pair, overall, is spawning quite infrequently.

The Lightning Maroon Spawn, #44, never made it to hatching.  Something happened, and the pair consumed the eggs.  Could the Lightning foundation pair be winding down or did they just have a bad spawn?  Their prior spawn produced a good amount of juveniles, which were undergoing settlement and on TDO A by last Thursday, which is when I drained them down to about a gallon, filled with clean new aged saltwater, and then turned them on to the larviculture system.

LxL spawn #4 was one I was going to let go because I wasn’t in town (I was off speaking at the Milwaukee Aquarium Society’s “Fish Bowl” event), but in short, Mike Doty decided to play with harvesting the eggs.  He took approximately 25% of the next out, using my little egg siphon, on Friday night (Nov. 14th).  I got a text while in Milwaukee…there was a hatch..and a big one.  Surprisingly, he simply did it in a 1 gallon olive jar with an air feed, sitting in a water bath with probably 75% new water.  If I had done that, every last egg would have been dead.  All credit where it’s due – Mike may well in fact rear Lightning X Lightning offspring before I do (they’re at HIS fishroom ;) )  Mike further relayed that this was a split hatch, with more eggs present Saturday the 15th, but all gone by 4 AM Sunday morning.

Yesterday, I caught wind that the F1 Lightning X Lightning pair was going to spawn again…the female was roving the tank with her ovipositor down.  I did my best to FURTHER add tile to their tank, blocking their prior spawning spot off..which caused them to move to another side of the tank’s back wall, which I then blocked off with tile. They were still going through the motions of finding a spawning site when I turned the lights off after Midnight; technically they spawned in the overnight on the wee-early morning of 11-18-2014, but if I was to be thinking about these eggs properly, then normally they’d be a 11-17 spawn.  Ultimately, they selected the ONLY section of black plastic background that I cannot get tile on (near the tank’s filter return).  Either the nest was small, or they ate most of it, and I am considering foregoing working with it.  I’m thinking that what this pair may really need is a clay pot…that might be the ticket here.  So LxL Spawn #5 has been put down, but for now, probably will be left alone.

So despite two nights of attempted hatching of harvested eggs, I ultimately only got ONE viable larvae out of LxL Spawn #3.  It is in a BRT all by itself.

On 11/7/2014 – the F1 Lightning X Lightning pair threw down another nest…and once again, not on a tile.  I won’t be in town to try trapping or harvesting this nest, so I’ll have to wait for the next spawn. Will update with some photos as I’m able.

Not a lot of time tonight, so I get to be real quick.

Spawn #44 was laid by the F0 pair on late evening of 11/3/2014.  Spawn #43 ended up no hatching much when it was finally set up, but seems to have hatched apparently during the morning.

I opted to harvest 50% of the nest from the F1 Lightning X Lightning pair tonight, the 7th night post hatch, the overnight from 11/3 into 11/4. I used a very simple harvesting technique, using a section of air tubing, inserting the tip section from a 2 ml pipette, which was cut at an angle on the harvesting end.  The eggs were scraped from the back wall while the tubing was siphoning into a specimen cup.  The harvested eggs were added to a brine shrimp hatchery resting in a water bath in a BRT, with a bubble rate of a few bubbles per second.  3 larvae were dislodged from their eggs during harvest…one was viable and started swimming, while the other two appeared lifeless.

It’s the 7th night for Spawn #43 which was spawned on 10-22; we’re on the night of 10-29 going into 10-30 now; there wasn’t any noticeable hatch on the tile over the 6th night (I left it with the parents yesterady)….it will get pulled.  This is what Spawn #43 looked like when it was laid fresh on 10-22…I should also point out this is the first time I’ve taken pictures of the F0 original wild pair of Lightning Maroon X White Stripe PNG Maroon Clownfish.






The larvae from spawn #42 that are still alive have largely settled out…it was a small group, but I’ll find a way to work with them.  More importantly, it looks like LM X LM Spawn #2 might be over…I have not found any larvae in the BRT, so one more look, I repurposed  it for Spawn #43.  The eggs got the usual dip in H2O2, but started hatching during it, so they were moved straight into the BRT with 8 gallons of broodstock water and a few ML of RotiGrow Plus (only thing I had thawed…it’ll be fine for the first 24 hours and by that point I’ll have RotiGreen Omega up and running).

The most frustrating news is arguably LM X LM Spawn #3. recap.  Here was the first spawn:

F1 (Lightning X Lightning) first spawn for the Lightning Maroon Clownfish


So…I took some proactive steps and tiled the back wall of the tank.

This was LM X LM (or LxL if you prefer) Spawn #2 on the first attempted hatch night:


Yeah..that gray patch on the side..those are the eggs…

So that didn’t turn out obviously…so I tiled the side wall as well.

Here is Spawn #3, laid on 10/27/2014:


The internet shorthand FML seems somehow appropriate. Clearly the pair is flipping me the middle fin.


It’s been a few late late nights waiting for results on the Lightning X Lightning pair’s second spawn. Given that they had either spawned on Thursday, Oct 16th, or Friday, Oct. 17th, and going off of their parents 6 day hatch window, I set up their tank on the evening of Wednesday, Oct 22nd, to prepare for a possible hatch.  This made sense given that it would either fit into the 6 day window if the eggs had been spawned on the 16th. No hatch was observed. On Thursday night, Oct 23rd, I encountered a very small hatch around 3 AM, a solid hour after lights out.  But, nothing furhter happened, so the 10 or so larvae I had snagged simply sat in the snagger for the next 24 hours.  And now, Friday night, the 24th, going into Saturday AM, it’s now just shy of 4:00 AM and I just finished “putting away” around 50-100 larvae from the F1 Lightning X Lightning pairing.  I snagged them with the Vossen Larval Snagger…ultimately most totally bypassed the snagger, so I had to set up a LED crank-charge flashlight and manually attract the larvae to it. I also had to really crank up the flow rate faster than I was comfortable with, but if I hadn’t done that, I watched as most every larvae would swim back out of the trap once it realized what was happening.

I gave LxL Spawn #2 a very weak dosage of RotiGrow Omega (yes, I know this is not ideal, but I need to thaw out some new RotiGreen) and placed a half gallon’s worth of SS-strain rotifers (because I have those going now as well, thanks Mike) along with roughly 4.5 gallons of broodstock water in a BRT downstairs. Now we wait. Knowing how these fish tend to color up quickly, as long as I don’t massively screw up, we should get an idea of what’s going on very soon…eg. within 30 days.

The larvae from Lightning Maroon Spawn #42 did not do well despite what appeared to be a solid hatch on their second night.  I’m guessing no more than 6 are still viable.

Back on Wednesday, Oct 22nd, 2014, the Lightning Maroon and her mate threw down Spawn #43.  A beautiful nest.  I have a lot of photos in the camera to post, but I’m still recovering from two back-to-back laptop rebuilds, so pictures are just going to have to wait for now.

It amazes me still that even with the entire story documented here for the world to see, there are still people out there who get it wrong, and sometimes blatantly so.  I was alerted to a discussion on Facebook today  in a semi-private forum, so I’ll refrain from naming names and keep it strictly to the inaccuracies.  Within this discussion, all sorts of factually inaccurate statements were made, and so, it’s time for another round of “Lightning Maroon Mythbusting” – let’s set the record straight.

Myth - “My company ********* is a official retailer for sea and reef aquaculture the original and only breeders for the lightning maroon clownfish”

Fact – While the company in question may be an official retailer for Sea & Reef, even Soren Hansen himself wouldn’t be so bold as to claim that Sea and Reef was the “original” (aka. first) breeders of Lightning Maroon Clownfish, nevermind they are certainly not the “only” either.  I’ll just raise my hand here and claim originality (which is indisputable) and for a long time, until Sea & Reef produced their 2nd generation fish, I was also the only ;)

Myth - “Soren from sea and reef aquaculture teamed up with Matt from bluezoo aquatics and they had joined forces..first pair to successfully breed was a joint venture.”

Fact - The first pair to successfully breed was my pair, here in Duluth MN, the wild-collected Lightning Maroon Clownfish with a wild collected normally patterned Maroon, both from Fisherman’s Island in PNG. Soren / Sea & Reef had nothing to do with the first pairing, and it certainly was not a “joint-venture” between myself and Sea & Reef or Soren.

Furthermore, I am not “from Blue Zoo Aquatics”…I am a customer of Blue Zoo Aquatics, but I do not work for them.  I sell them the offspring of the actual “ORIGINAL” Lightning Maroon pairing, drop shipping them to Blue Zoo’s retail customers, but I am independent of Blue Zoo. There was no “joint-venture” in the production of the original F1 Lightning Maroon Clownfish offspring either – they were done by my own hand in my basement fishroom.  Mike Doty, a good friend and fellow fish breeder who lives literally around the block, can be credited with helping rear the first, and some of the subsequent batches I’ve produced to date here in Duluth.

Myth - “Besides bluezoo lost their first breeding pair which one was a wild caught and one was a regular maroon”

Fact - Nothing could be further from the truth.  In fact, NOTHING in that statement is even remotely true.  It would seem that the person speaking (who is retailing Lightning Maroons from Sea & Reef) is attempting to create the illusion of rarity / exclusivity in order to drive sales.

But…let me pick it apart point by point.  This statement implies that only one of the fish in the pair was wild caught. My pair = F0 X F0 (all wild caught).  Sea & Reef’s initial pairing was one of my F1 offspring, paired to another F0 PNG white stripe maroon (per Soren Hansen’s communication with me).

Blue Zoo never had a breeding pair, so impossible to lose something they never had. Let’s assume that the “blue zoo” pair this person is referring to is in fact MY pair, the one which has supplied the offspring which Blue Zoo Aquatics retailed – that pair is still alive and well and producing…heck they just laid their 43rd spawn yesterday.

Myth - “So when they had a hybrid and Soren had an original wild caught they teamed up to bring them to wholesalers for sale”

Fact -  I’m not even sure in what context the commentator / retailer is using the term “hybrid”, but I will say this – hybrid has multiple definitions. In the context it is typically thought of, being intraspecific hybridization (the offspring of two separate species) then no, no hybrids here. There are interspecific hybrids (at least one individual out there would prefer I use the term “population hybrids”) but at the end of the day, short of saying that ANY pairing of ANY fish of ANY type = hybrid, there is nothing hybrid about any of the breeding I did here, nor the breeding I’m aware of at Sea & Reef. The Lightning Maroon Clownfish is pure Premnas biaculeatus “PNG White Stripe”, but carries a mutant gene / allele which causes the unique stripe pattern alteration.

I think there’s also a lot of implication that there was direct collaboration between Blue Zoo Aquatics, Myself, and Soren Hansen, and I must clarify that. While I clearly have met Soren, have had many conversations with Soren, there was no coordinated effort on my part, or the part of Blue Zoo, to team up and bring Lightnings to wholesalers for sale.  Soren Hansen purchased his F1 broodstock fish at public auction from me via Blue Zoo Aquatics – anyone could have bought that fish.

It was Soren Hansen who had the foresight to be a commercial breeder which procured additional wild PNG broodstock when it was available, on the gamble that there would one day be F1 Lightnings for him to work with at Sea & Reef.  So, the credit for that goes squarely to Soren…he planned thoughtfully and then executed on that plan when the opportunity presented itself. I commend him for that foresight and a job well done.

Myth - “I will correct myself [Sea & Reef is] not the only breeder with the Lightning Maroons just the only ones that have quantity and the original strain”

Fact - Sorry, flat out “wrong”. While Sea & Reef does have the largest available quantity, they are not the “only ones that have….the original strain”.

I’ll avoid getting into the jargon of “strain”…as it doesn’t really apply well in this setting at this time anyway, but I will say this and I know Sea & Reef won’t argue. The “original” pair is here, still producing offspring. It is arguable that my stock has the “original” inherited gene, but we must understand that Soren’s offspring, which are 2nd generation Lightnings by using of my first generation offspring as a parent, should carry the exact same “lightning gene”.  So they have the “original gene”, inherited from their parent, who got it from my original wild fish.

Ultimately, there will be many lines of Lightning Maroons produced by breeders around the planet, but unless another wild Lightning is discovered, collected, brought to market, and successfully bred, all Lightning Maroon Clownfish will owe their unique mutant gene to the original wild fish which resides here in my basement to this day.

Now, whether other breeders will keep their Lightning Maroon lineages true to the PNG provenance is another story, and that one day could be a bone of contention (eg. anyone hybridizing Lightnings with Gold Stripe Maroons, or looking at white stripe broodstock outside the PNG provenance). Sea & Reef has respected the PNG provenance in their lines (both Morse Codes and Lightnings), I have as well, and I’m hoping that all other breeders will do so, because it does matter in the long term when it comes to conserving natural biodiversity.

Opinion - “You can pay 2k plus for garbage or you can pay $3-400 retail and get yourself a quality maroon. Its a no brainer those that spent big bucks not even a year ago I’m sure feel like crap after seeing the prices of these from sANDr”

Fact - everyone is entitled to their opinion, but they’re not entitled to their own facts.

Lots of little updates

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Spawn #41 was left to go for itself because the Lightning X Lighting Spawn #1 took priority.  Unfortunately, by the time the eggs reached the anticipated hatch night, Wed, Oct 8th, there were only 7 eyed up eggs left.  I attempted to harvest them by using a rigid air tube attached to a flexible tube to scrape and siphon them out…this broke one egg but the rest went through intact.  By the next morning in the incubation cup (a half gallon specimen cup with broodstock water), the eggs were dead.

So back to the F0 Lightning X White Stripe pair; Oct. 11 they laid Spawn #42, and tonight, Friday, October 17th, 2014, I pulled the eggs and gave them the typical H202 Bath..about 11 minutes in, we (Paul Whitby of HighDefCorals is in town to speak at our club) noticed that larvae had begun to hatch, so the dip was ended and I placed the tile in the cleaned, readied 6 gallon BRT which had 5 gallons broodstock water and 1 gallon new water.

In other news, the Lightning X Lightning pair put down their second spawn somewhere between 5 PM on Thursday, Oct 16th and 4:30 PM Friday, Oct. 17th. It’s a much larger nest, which was expected. Despite having basically tiled the entire backside of the aquarium, the pair thwarted my efforts by spawning around the corner in a tight area of black plastic background. I don’t know when the proper “harvest” date will be for these fish; I’ll like try my Vossen Larval Snagger this time around. But I also know that I’ll be putting even MORE tile into their tank now ;)

So yeah…October 2nd, I’m just walking by the tank and I see this…

F1 (Lightning X Lightning) first spawn for the Lightning Maroon Clownfish

We are about to embark on the next exciting chapter of the Lightning Maroon Clownfish and genes.  My hypothesis is that the Lightning gene is partially dominant or dominant. The offspring from this spawn, if successfully raised, will yield important answers that may shed new light on the genetics at play. Will we see something NEW come out of this? Well..I certainly hope so and it looks like I’ll get to name it!

Let’s give that a closer look:










Yup, one of those quick little posts…9-29-2014, Lightning Maroon Spawn #41 was put down…and we’re back on the “slanted” tile instead of the vertical one.

And alongside, the loaner pair of A. melanopus from Mike Doty also spawned on 9-29 as well…time to get me some MBI points!

That is all…

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