The Lightning Project

The ongoing saga of the PNG Lightning Maroon Clownfish Breeding Project

Browsing Posts in Lighting Maroon Clownfish

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:

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The Lightning Maroon Clownfish at the Great Lakes Aquarium enjoy a brief feature on the homepage of the Duluth News Tribune on the morning of Sept. 7, 2014

The Lightning Maroon Clownfish at the Great Lakes Aquarium enjoy a brief feature on the homepage of the Duluth News Tribune on the morning of Sept. 7, 2014

The Lightning Maroon Clownfish offspring (GL1 and GL2) I donated to the Great Lakes Aquarium in 2013, are now officially on display.

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GL1, the lower fish, foreground, carries the Lightning gene; it’s whit striped mate, above, does not.

Late on Saturday evening, one of my FISHING friends (not to be confused with FISH friends) posted on Facebook that the official story had run online; this Saturday, September 7th, 2014, the Duluth News Tribune is running a story by Alysee Shelton about the Lightning Maroon Clownfish and its mate, which are now on display at the Great Lakes Aquarium here in Duluth, MN. You can ready the story online here for the next coupld days - http://www.duluthnewstribune.com/content/nemo-great-lakes-aquarium-duluth-fish-breeder-shares-lightning-maroon-clownfish-public - Now, I should point out that the article isn’t 100% accurate. As you all know, I like to indulge in a bit of mythbusting (aka. Fact Correcting) here at the Lightning Project…the Duluth News Tribune will “suffer my wrath” (meant very tongue in cheek, affectionately), receiving a healthy dose of disambiguation just like everyone else.

For starters, the fish were actually delivered to the GLA on August 2nd, 2013, which means they were behind the scenes for just over a year before being put on display, not the “6 months” the article mentions. The year behind the scenes is perfectly understandable given that aquarists were VERY busy with the new “Shipwrecks Alive” exhibit that was being put in place in the rotating exhibit hall to replace the “Masters of Disguise” exhibit, which was the replacement for the “Seahorses” exhibits I never got to see…but there’s another reason which I’ll cover in a second.

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I would remind readers that while this article suggests that “[SEASMART] decided to send that fish to Matt Pedersen, an international marine aquarium fish breeder in Duluth.”, that it was actually a) Blue Zoo Aquatics who had the final say in whether I would receive the fish (although my understanding is that all parties felt it was a good move) and b) they didn’t just “send” me the fish…yes, the rumors still persist that I was just “given” the Lightning Maroon!

Jay Walker is a great guy and Operations Manager at the aquarium; I LOVE that QUARANTINE, a practice that too many aquarists skimp on, was mentioned at great lengths in this media coverage and attributed to Walker.  To pull a shortened version of Walker’s comments, “quarantine lasts for a minimum of 30 days, and within this time we do prophylactic treatments for diseases, developing husbandry practices and observations. This process can last for more than 30 days depending on the situation.”  I wish to just elaborate here, that in the case of the Lighting Maroon Clownfish and its normally patterned mate, a BIG part of the actually year-long “quarantine” was the process of size-differentiation leading into successful pairing (“Mating” as the Duluth News Tribune called it in reference to when I first paired the wild fish here in my dining room…and no, not pairing with wine…).  Yes, the GLA didn’t try to accomplish pairing these sibling fish in just a month or two…

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Shelton’s article also glosses over the actuality of numbers a bit, but that’s more due to the brevity of the piece and a word we’re all forced to deal with.  For example, “produced their offspring, classified as lightning maroon clownfish, on June 29, 2012.” As most Lightning Project followers already now, only about 50% of the offspring wind up displaying the mutated phenotype (appearance) and therefore, only about half of them are actually “Lightning” Maroon Clownfish.  I should mention this because one of my worst fears is that someone picks up this story and starts talking about the fish as if they are a NEW SPECIES (which they are certainly NOT). I will also point out a subtle fact that cannot be discerned from the article as written – the GLA only has one Lightning Maroon Clownfish; it is paired with a White Stripe (Normal) sibling. When you get caught up using a word like fish (same when singular or plural) I realized, as I read this piece, that you never can really tell whether you are talking about one, two, or for that matter dozens/hundreds/thousands.

The article went on to state that “Great Lake Aquarium officials believe they are the first aquarium in the world to have these fish.” – I’ll emphatically say that “believe” suggests perhaps more room for doubt than is actually there. When it comes to “firsts” – and for a small public aquarium like the Great Lakes Aquarium, firsts DO matter – I am reasonably confident that they were the first public aquarium to have possession of a Lightning Maroon Clownfish (I could go back and check my records just to be 100% sure). Regardless of that, to the best of my knowledge, I am very confident that they can rightfully claim to have been the first and (to date) only public aquarium in the world to have this unique form on public display. I can say this with reasonable certainty given that I know where all the Lightning Maroons in my fishroom have gone…so unless someone “changed their minds”, I would presume that the Lightning Maroons that were sold in 2013 and 2014 are still in the same breeding programs they were when originally purchased…and not on public display.  Will other aquariums in the future display a Lightning Maroon Clownfish? Perhaps…but I am proud that the GLA stands apart in the world, at least for now.

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I am truly delighted that the fish are on display, in the capable hands of the aquarists at the GLA. And yes, anyone who feels the current retail pricing is just too much to spend on a fish, you can now see one for the price of admission at a unique public aquarium on the shores of St. Louis Bay on Lake Superior. My special thanks for Alysee Shelton for taking the time to craft her article for the Duluth News Tribune – in a few hours I hope to see it in print!

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 #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!

A look at the Lightning Maroon Clownfish available for purchase by a winning auction bid! 4 Auctions, 5 fish (including a PAIR) are available right now!

>>>>> BID NOW HERE  <<<<< 

Blue Zoo Aquatic’s eBay page has ALL active auctions

After that, a look at the 6 fish that remain for the Summer 2014 crop (after which, there won’t be any more to offer until fall or winter)!

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F1 PNG Lightning Maroon Clownfish LM9 on eBay

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F1 PNG Lightning Maroon Clownfish LM14 on eBay

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F1 PNG White Stripe Maroon WS13 on eBay

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F1 PNG Lightning Maroon Clownfish BONDED PAIR, LM17 and LM18, on eBay

What’s left for summer 2014?  Not much, so start hatching your plans.

Still to come, includes 2 large White Stripes, 1 small White Stripe, 1 Large Lightning Maroon, 2 small Lightning Maroons.  So, again, plan appropriately! Still to be auctioned this summer (and probably very soon):

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F1 PNG White Stripe Maroon Clownfish WS4

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F1 PNG White Stripe Maroon Clownfish WS11

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F1 PNG White Stripe “Morse Code” Maroon Clownfish WS17

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F1 PNG Lightning Maroon Clownfish LM14

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F1 PNG Lightning Maroon Clownfish LM19

LM20

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F1 PNG Lightning Maroon Clownfish LM20

 

 

I totally neglected to share this here – Jake Adams came to visit me back at the end of January, 2014, and we recorded an interview that focused heavily on designer clownfish, including the Lightning Maroon.  There’s some great video shot by Jake that you won’t see anywhere else, so dive into ReefBuilders The Show (aka. just “The Show”), episode 2, and enjoy.

 

Let’s start with Spawn #34 – as of Sunday morning, 6/15/2014, there were a lot of dead eggs on the bottom of the tank, but when I gave the eggs the viability test (touch them and see the larvae wiggle inside) they were actually still alive.  I pulled them and placed them in a specimen cup with vigorous aeration – none of them hatched, and through the course of the afternoon they all died and came off the tile.  So spawn #34 has wound up being a bit small, but there are probably still 50-100+ offspring in there. Seeing the larvae live for days behind the initial hatch HAS made me reconsider whether I am perhaps having egg quality issues, and more specifically issues that cause hatching problems.  In talking with fellow breeders like Mitch May (aka. Booyah, a good friend from back home in Chicago), he of course raised the same concern with me, but when we talked diet, that ruled out the problem.  Still, this could be a case-by-case thing, so it’ll be interesting to me to see if I can change this. One of the annecdotes that Joe Licthenbert always instilled upon me was “if you want good eggs, feed the fish eggs”.  Time to call up Rod Buehler of Rod’s Food and see about getting a fresh shipment of Rod’s Eggs up in here!

Spawn #35 was laid on Father’s Day afternoon, 6-15-2014 – if all goes as is typical, it should have the first hatch night on the 21st, going into the 22nd.

And finally, it’s been too long since I posted these – updates of the holdback Lightning Maroon Pair, the fish I’ll call MWP1 and MWP2.  They’ve been in the Ecoxotic tank for a while now and are solidly paired.  What I hadn’t really done is take closeup shots to update the pattern progression photos, and wow am I glad I finally did.  There are some big changes in both fish (but it’s been almost 6  months). The largest change I noticed is in the headband of the larger fish, the female I’ll be calling MWP1 and have been using for the pattern progression photos. Where her headband had been mostly solid white for all these years, it has finally seen the first pinpricks of red spotting come through. Knowing how these spots grow and evolve, it is fair to say that her once “boring” headband will now become an intricate latticework of pattern…in another 6 months or a year.

I’ll post the photos in just a second, but here’s the interesting thing.  If it has taken this long for the pattern to get this far, I wonder if the pattern development can be used to gauge the age of their wild mother.   As we’ve seen the pattern evolve, certainly it may hit a point where it truly feels analogous to mom…presuming the fish in my care grow and develop at a similar rate to the wild (a big presumption) then I feel that yes, it could give some insight into mom.  After all, we know that wild-type Onyx Percula offspring can continue to develop coloration and pattern for 3 years in captivity (which is why I never produced any great numbers of them) and now here, with the Lightning, I think my hypothesis that the pattern development takes years is unfolding before our eyes.  Look at the OTHER one, MWP2, the one that for all this time has until recently had solid white flanks.  It too, is finally turning.  I find this incredibly fascinating; if the speed of pattern development cannot be easily improved upon through selective breeding, it could mean that all Lightning Maroons will be a bit of a diamond in the rough.  You may have to buy one and wait for it to develop over time.  I wonder too, will there then be a huge premium placed on older fish, who are showing more well-progressed pattern? I could see this happening given that to this day, a well colored Onyx Percula which may be a year or older, will always fetch more than a partially barred, partially colored up juvenile.

Here’s some photos I shot last night, Father’s Day, June 15th, 2014, of MWP1 and MWP2.

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I also have some other photos and such I need to post…I think I skipped some things over the past few months!

It’s taken over 24 hours of work, but the website has been updated with new photos of many Lightning and White Stripe Maroon Clownfish. 5 new fish have been added to the inventory as well! I’m not going to post every last new photo in a blog post. Instead, you can follow the links to any particular page you’re interested in.

First, we have a great update on Mike Doty’s pair, MD1 and MD2 – I took the photos back in February but only now have them online! Looking at both these fish you can see how they’ve developed over time.

MD1 (Lightning) and MD2 (White Stripe aka. Morse Code) - Feb 28, 2014

MD1 (Lightning) and MD2 (White Stripe aka. Morse Code) – Feb 28, 2014

MWP3 was added to the inventory – he is a fish I’ve held back due to an obvious dorsal fin defect and had intended to use as the Lightning in a Lightning X White Stripe sibling pairing. At the moment, with no real place to house such a pairing, I may let him go to a new home.

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WS4, WS11 and WS13 are all White Stripe Maroons that have been here for 2 years now; I wasn’t able to get any good new photos of WS13, but WS4 and WS11 have updates, and all three fish have now been measured too!

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The same can be said for LM9, LM11, LM14.

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LM17 and LM18 remain together, and LM18 has finally been given its own page.

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And finally, your first look at 3 new offspring – WS17, LM19 and LM20! All three of these were reared in individual containers from a very young age, and it seems that has really helped produced better offspring (no battle scars from being reared together)!

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Enjoy!

 

 

 

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