The Lightning Project

The ongoing saga of the PNG Lightning Maroon Clownfish Breeding Project

In short, Spawn #29 was not pulled on Monday, the 14th, as I had initially suspected.  Looking at it, I opted to wait until Tuedsay, the 15th, to pull it, 7th day post spawn.  I used well-aged new saltwater which was 1.026; same as the broodstock water.  Water temp may have been a couple degrees cooler.  The eggs were given a H2O2 bath for roughly 15 minutes (4 ml to 0.5 gallons saltwater), and then placed in the 10 gallon hatching tank with a wooden airstone.

Come Wed. morning, there had been minimal hatch, most eggs were on the tile and still looked viable.  I saw only one larvae swimming.  I opted to do nothing, and let it go another day.  Come Thursday morning, once again, no eggs on the ground really, some dead larvae, and one viable offspring. Eggs were all dead come this evening.

I’ve noted repeatedly over the years that despite what everyone says about using ‘new saltwater’ for hatching and incubation, I NEVER have good look with it.  Was it the temp drop in this case?  Possible.  But every time I use broodstock water, I don’t feel like I have these problems :/

So Mike Doty has had comparable luck to some of my better “early runs”; Spawn #27 remains at his house and in a startling role reversal, I’m now watching HIS fishroom.  As of yesterday, I discovered the first post-meta offspring, a Lightning juvenile, in the warmer, more lightly-stocked right BRT.  The rest are still pre-meta fish.

Spawn #28 was pulled too early, and I should have listened more to Mike Hoang’s advice to do an H2O2 dip on eggs that don’t hatch in the first night.  It seems that the eggs remained viable on the tile up until yesterday afternoon, 4-8, but the majority never hatched. Interestingly, it wasn’t until the morning of 4-8 that the last of the eggs in with the parents had disappeared. There are a scant few larvae in the 10 gallon tank from this batch as a result.

The other news to report is that on the afternoon of 4-8-2014, the 29th spawn was put down by the Lightning Maroons.  Based on my dates, I should pull the tile for hatching next Monday, the 14th.

While I was away, Mike did a great job with the fishroom and the baby Lightnings from Spawn #27.  He got two hatches out of them, which means once again, these eggs hatched out over THREE nights.  Crazy.  When I stopped by Mike’s place on 4-3-14, he had maybe 50-100 pre-settlement offspring in one tank, and maybe a dozen from the 3rd night’s hatch.

Also while I was gone, Mike recorded a spawn on 3-30-2014, making this Spawn #28.  The most interesting thing about spawn #28 is that they laid it on two tiles; a small cluster on the leaning tile, and the bulk of the spawn on the vertical wall tile.  I didn’t take a picture for lack of time, but I should have.  Come the morning of 4-4-14, it was clear to see that the smaller disc of eggs on the leaning tile had become rather “sparse”…did some hatch out on the night of 4-3?  If they were laid on 3-30, that makes 3-31, 4-1, 4-2, 4-3…that doesn’t seem like quite enough days have passed.  But that also means that come tonight, 4-4, it is a pretty safe bet that there is going to be a hatch.  So I pulled the tile and placed it in my 10 gallon with a coarse air stone for hatching; I neglected to do a H2O2 (hydrogen peroxide) dip, mainly because my Angelfish are so productive I don’t have any spare large specimen cups running around the fishroom..they’re all full of Pterophyllum eggs or fry.

Tomorrow AM, I’ll find out if I pulled them right, or screwed up again.

By March 21st, both Mike and I were at zero for larval maroons from batch #26…we both crapped out.

It’s now the evening of March 25th, 2014, and Mike left my fishroom about 25 minutes ago with a bucket and a tile; I’ll be out of town at the NEC convention this week followed by a visit to the Vermont-based home offices of CORAL Magazine, AMAZONAS Magazine and Reef To Rainforest Media LLC, so Mike and my wife get to pay attention to the fishroom in my absense.  It makes more sense to have freshly hatched clownfish in Mike’s fishroom vs. my own, and the deal I’ve made with him is this – if he rears a good solid batch up, I owe him a Gold Nugget Maroon to pair with his existing Gold Stripe Female.  Done deal in my book.

What I’m more curious about is to see if Mike can fair better than I have been doing.  Just on the ride home, 10 already hatched….which brings me to the other ongoing issue – as this morning, it was apparently that a good portion of the eggs had already hatched on the overnight from the 24th going into the 25th. Once again, only 5 days post spawn.  Mike should get a solid hatch tonight (6 days post spawn), and he might even be able to get stragglers again on the 7th day if he plays his cards right.  What’s up with the hatch spreading out over THREE days?!  At any rate, this is what it looks like will happen for Spawn #27.

 

Last week, the hatch of Spawn #26 approached.  I’d been talking with Mike, at this point looking for really different way to approach the rearing problems I’ve been facing.  The thought process was simple – send a tile over to Mike and see if he can do any better.  Well, based on the 6-7 day model, Spawn #26 was due to hatch on either the night of the 12th, or 13th.

Come the morning of the 12th, it looked like there had already been a big hatch…at least 50% of the eggs were gone.  Easily half hatched on the only the 5th night!  Well, I pulled the tile that night, gave it a H202 dip (4ml in 0.5 gallons for 15 minutes), and come morning of the 13th, probably 50-100 more larvae had hatched.  And there were still viable eggs.  So the afternoon of the 13th, Mike came over and grabbed the tile.  And come the morning of the 14th, Mike had a few more babies hatched out.

And so, by March 19th, the larvae I had dwindled to around 6 or so…and Mike was down to 1.  I noticed a very disturbing change in larval rearing; for some reason in this run, my larvae were floating on their sides…a very odd set of circumstances that only seems explainable by an internal gas buildup…odd seeing fish kinda stuck to the surface with headstripes forming.

Meanwhile March 19th was also the date of Spawn #27; as far as I can tell, the tank temperature has rising from 82 to 84F, and that could explain why hatch started coming as early as 5 days post spawn…we’ll see if we do better on the next one…

3/6/2014 marked the arrival of spawn #26.  Another good sized nest of orange-red eggs on the tile, laid on the “roof”, which seems to be the usual location for the pair.

As I wrote last about Spawn #25…I thought the hatch had been a dud, but once I configured the larval tank and got things going, it was clear I had hundreds of viable larvae.  They were PLOWING through rotifers…easily 4 gallon’s wroth of harvested culture daily, spread out over 2-3 feedings. With the larval tank starting at 5 gallons running volume, I was adding clean new water daily, roughly one gallon.

As of this morning, 3/6/2014, I still had several hundred larvae, but when I checked on the fish again this evening, it was clear that something was wrong…I was quite literally watching larvae die right before my eyes.  I started slowly draining out the water, and as I continued to drain, the number of free swimming larvae dwindled and the hundreds of shriveled up bodies piled up on the bottom of the 5 gallon bucket.  The ammonia alert badge never so much as made a peep.  I have yet to test the water, but I have suspicions how it will test out…

By the time I was simply too exhausted to go further,I had the tank down to maybe 1.5 gallons, and I added roughly 5 gallons of clean new saltwater.  Basically the hail-mary approach when things go downhill this fast.  I would estimate no more than 10 larvae are still swimming around in the tank at this time.

This is getting really, really old.

Talking with Mike on Friday, as best as we can figure out Spawn #25 was put down Saturday, February 22nd. This fits the timeline…come Friday night (Feb 28th) we’d be at 6 days post spawn, which is the earliest eggs hatch. I opted to wait until the 7th night, which was last night (Saturday, March 1st) to pull the tile.

Come Saturday morning, it was clear that some eggs were gone…perhaps as much as 50% of the nest must have hatched on the 6th night. But as we’ve seen so many times before, these eggs, for whatever reason, are prone to split hatching over 2 nights (a problem I also had and never fixed with my wild Onyx Perculas). So last night, technically 2AM this morning, I pulled the tile to prepare it for hatching.

I returned to the 15 minute hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) bath in broodstock water, and I drained the 10 gallon clownfish hatching tank, soaked it with FW, rinsed it all out, and filled it with 5 gallons of broodstock water. Thinking that either the use of clean new water, or a weak air setting, caused the hatch failure in Spawn #24, I set up the tile with a rather vigorous flow of air from the wooden airstone. A dime white moonlight at the far end of the tank was set up to draw larvae away from the heavier currents & flow of the hatching setup and tile.

By 3 AM, I took a peak and noticed there seemed to be a good hatch, so I harvested 1.5 gallons worth of rotifers and added 20 drops of RotiGreen Omega. I was feeling optimistic.

9 AM this morning, I checked in and removed both the hatching tile and the large tile that I had placed on the bottom to prevent the hatching tile from sliding / fall. To my disappointment, it appeared that most all larvae were on the bottom, and some were dead. There was only maybe a dozen eggs on the tile that had not hatched. I added almost 50 drops of RotiGreen Omega to help green up the water and hopefully get the babies up off the bottom; I also turned the air flow down significantly to just a trickle, feeling that perhaps I should have done this “last night”. Could it simply be that several hours of turbulence in the tank had caused some of the larvae to expend excessive amounts of energy and doomed them to a quick death?

I’ll be keeping an eye on these obviously….wish me luck.

I left for Reef Currents this past weekend in Houston, hosted by MARSH, and well, it was the typical dice roll of being a speaker…some things will be fine, and some things just won’t work out.  BTW, it was a great event – thanks for having me guys!

Spawn #24 never really hatched.  Despite being pulled after 6 days, there was nothing hatched Thursday morning before I left.  Friday, Mike had seen 1 or 2 larvae hatch, but the rest were still tightly held in their eggs.  Come Saturday, still no hatch, and come Sunday the eggs were definitely dead. So what did I do wrong?  Was it the use of completely new saltwater?  Insufficient aeration from the wooden air stone?  The fact that I didn’t sanitize the eggs with H2O2.  Incidentally, I spent part of the weekend with my friend Mike Hoang, who some readers may remember as the guy with the Gold Flake Maroons down in Houston…before ORA isolated theirs but after Sustainable Aquatics created and applied the name to theirs. I bring Mike up, because he actually breeds a lot of clownfish and has many tricks he’s very willing to share; one of the things he mentioned is that if he has a failed hatch, he does an H2O2 dip and then finds he has a hatch after wards.  So maybe there is something mechanical at play here; either heavier agitation is needed, or the H2O2 dip helps soften / break down the outer membrane of the egg, facilitating hatching (which normally might be facilitated by the parental clownfish biting on or otherwise roughly agitating the eggs).  All speculation…

I returned home Sunday to also find Spawn #25 had been put down.  Mike failed to mention that, so I’m not sure whether he noticed it or not (I’ve sent him an email to ask).  Based solely on how they looked when I saw them, I’m guessing they were laid on Saturday, February 22nd, 2014.  At least I get yet another chance.

The Lightning Maroon “holdback pair” is finally a true pair.  It wound up taking 4 separate introductions for the pairing to stick; the last time I introduced the larger female to the male was on Wednesday afternoon, and what I saw that suggested things would go different was a lack of fighting and a more conciliatory demeanor from the male.  Lots of cheek biting / nibbling by the male any time the female would lunge at him, and that nuzzling / nipping / biting behavior would quickly diffuse the larger fishes aggression.  Come morning there were no split fins, and the pair was spending considerable time together.  I took a calculated risk, and left them together while gone, with everyone knowing what to do and what warning signs should be watched for.  It’s been 5 days now, and they share a small bubble tip anemone.  Looks like this pairing is going to stick.

Sorry for the lack of photos…I’m simply too backlogged to do anything with them.  And besides, seen one clownfish nest, you’ve seen ‘em all.

Did anyone see the outrageous “Peace Keeper” Gold Stripe Maroons?  If not, go check ‘em out on ReefBuilders.

 

Just a short note, tonight Spawn #24 was pulled for hatching.  I set it up with 100% new water, at 1.025, with aeration provided by a limewood airstone and a hatching escape route set up at the top of the tile.  The bottom of the tile is held in position by another tile lying on the bottom, and at the far end of the tank a small white LED nightlight is on to draw larvae  away from heavy flow.

Wish us luck!

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I noticed the F0 White Stripe PNG Maroon Clown pair acting oddly back on 2/16/2014.  Upon closer examination, I discovered this small nest…they’re second, spawned on the back of a large diameter PVC section.  Of course, disturbing the next allowed the Declevis Butterflyfish they live with to eat it….figures.  I’m thinking about removing all the PVC in the tank so I can force the pair to spawn on tiles.

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