The Lightning Project

The ongoing saga of the PNG Lightning Maroon Clownfish Breeding Project

Browsing Posts in Other Maroon Clownfish

I’m a man of my word; Mike reared a good batch with Spawn #27, and tonight, new photos of the ORA Gold Nugget Maroon Clownfish in Rhinelander (LiveAquaria’s Diver’s Den) were posted.  The fish looked good, and being on sale from $499.99 to only $349.99, it was time to honor my end of the bargain.  So this fish….


…is now Mike Doty’s and should be here on Tuesday morning.

I can’t say how blessed I am to have a fellow fish breeder who lives four blocks away and is willing to come feed babies on short notice….Mike I am always in your debt!  Now lets see what this throws when paired with a standard Gold Stripe Maroon! My prognostication – we get 100% Gold Flake types out of it…


On 5/21/2014, initially the hatch didn’t appear so good, but by afternoon, it was clear I had a solid hatch with hundreds in the BRT. I checked the tile, looked like 50% had hatched perhaps, so I let it go in the BRT overnight again, with only ambient light.  THAT might have been a mistake, because this morning, there was no additional hatch, but many of the larvae had perished. Seems like I have a pretty reliable hatching protocol with H2O2 dip and broodstock water yielding reliable results on the first night. Moving the batch for a second night hatch might just be the ticket.  The OTHER interesting thing – I do have to wonder if we have hatches going on during the day. I’ve long since wondered if that could be happening…

On the other front, Mike sent me an update video of Spawn #27.

Looks like I’m gonna owe him a Gold Nugget Maroon from ORA.


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.

S&R-Morse-Code-Maroon Clownfish-Group First posted at Reef Builders on February 3rd, 2014.

Sea & Reef Aquaculture announced the release of their new PNG-lineage “Morse Code” Maroon Clownfish, Premnas biaculeatus. Lovers of the Lightning Maroon Clownfish, or for that matter any of the unusual Maroon Clownfish that came out of Papua New Guinea (PNG) from SEASMART or the later EcoAquariums PNG, will recognize these distinctive looking Maroon Clownfish.  There’s more to the story of course.

continue reading…

Just went downstairs…all but one offspring in Spawn #20 is dead on the bottom.  !#%!#!!@!!

Water test shows completely off the wall parameters…eg. Nitrite at 5 PPM, Ammonia at 0.5 ppm, Nitrate at 40 ppm?!.  Now, whether that’s all the dead fish in the tank, or if that’s the cause, I’m not sure, but I’m thinking cause vs. effect…this must have snuck up on me this week and must have built up rather suddenly.

Since this type of loss has happened so many times now at this stage, I’m admittedly baffled because water quality hasn’t been a problem in prior losses, and yet they all have occurred around this same timeline, so I must be doing something horribly wrong, and water changes should have been keeping this under control (remember, this group got a near 100% water change earlier this week!).  Only 5 days to go from perfect parameter new water to the above?  I’m shocked.  The bioload and feedings simply don’t add up. I’d say I was overfeeding, but I can’t see how that’s the case.  In the past, at this point in time, I’ve normally put the fish onto the system only to watch them all die immediately after.

Looks like I must reevaluate my methods yet again.  Talk about frustrating.

Update – so I’ve been sitting her mulling this over, and here’s the things I recently did – #1 Fed them Brine Nauplii last night.  That seems to be a recurrent theme…feed the babies brine nauplii, have dead babies… #2. I did top off last night.  Is my RO/DI water contaminated? Time to test it…

It’s been a busy January here, with my trip to Cleveland to give some well-received talks at C-SEA followed by a grueling week of fishroom preparation in advance of Reef Builder’s world-reknowned Jake Adams dropping by for a surprise visit and a bit of Q&A at the Lake Superior Marine Aquarium Club’s winter / holiday / new year bash. Of course, the Lightning Maroon breeding and rearing doesn’t stop because life gets in the way, but you better believe the online posts can sometimes drop in priority!

Spawn #20 has progressed, but not without hiccups. You may recall I split this batch between the 10 gallon tank and a 15 gallon BRT (black round tub), earlier this month. This proved to be a wise move. More on that in a second, but I found it extremely interesting to note that the larvae which were moved to the BRT under 24 hour light grew faster and underwent metamorphosis sooner…3-4 days sooner, than the ones left in the 10 gallon tank (which by default gets around an 8 hour dark period).  Just before my trip to Cleveland, I took this shot of the babies in the BRT:

Spawn #20 in the BRT, post metamorphosis, already easily discernable as white stripes or lightnings.

Spawn #20 in the BRT, post metamorphosis, already easily discernable as white stripes or lightnings.

During my time at C-SEA, my good friend and fellow clownfish breeder Mike Doty (you may recall he helped hatch and rear the very first Lightnings) was keeping an eye on the fishroom. For no reason, somewhere around the 17th or so, the babies in the 10 gallon just died. Mike can’t explain it, I can’t explain it. We’ve seen this happen before.

Meanwhile the ones in the BRT fared better, but there still have been losses. During one of Mike’s stop overs, he found 7 dead.  This photograph from 1-27-2014:

Lightning Maroon Clownfish Spawn #20 at 1/27/2014

Lightning Maroon Clownfish Spawn #20 at 1/27/2014

Most recently, on the 28th I started a water change, which normally is done with a very slow siphon into a 5 gallon bucket, the intake being placed so that it won’t drain the tank completely. Well…I didn’t have it really clamped down, and so it drained the BRT ompletely. Those babies which were still in a couple mm of water survived the 99.9% water change, but those that were in shallower water – damp, but not submerged – were dead. 21 lost totally due to a preventable accident. The upside is that the fish took a very traumatic, near 100% water change, and yet survived.

Victims of a water change gone awry.  Totally my fault.  Very frustrated over it, but moving on...

Victims of a water change gone awry. Totally my fault. Very frustrated over it, but moving on…

I’m guesstimating another 20-30 still alive. Either way, that shows you the losses through attrition that happen as these fish grow up – I stocked the BRT with 140 larvae.

Spawn #21 – I left Spawn #21 more or less in the hands of Mike to hatch…a handful of offspring had hatched out on the morning of the 17th (pulling the nest on the 16th was 7 days post spawn), and later that afternoon I had to depart for Cleveland. Unfortunately, the tile fell overnight, so come the 18th, instead of Mike finding a bunch of larvae hatched out, he came over to find a dead nest.

The few offspring that did make it from Spawn #21 underwent metamorphosis during Jake’s visit; it was pretty clear to see which were lightnings vs. not by Saturday night (the 25th)….this seems to be a pretty fast time to metamorphosis.  My headcount on offspring from this batch is somewhere around 4-6 post settlement…another very small run.  This photo also from 1/27/2014:

A couple of the survivors in Spawn #21, photographed 1/27/2014

A couple of the survivors in Spawn #21, photographed 1/27/2014

Spawn #22 – on the afternoon of 1/20/2014, the 22nd clutch of eggs was put down by the Lightning Maroon and her mate. Paying a close attention to things, I knew I could be pulling them as early as 6 days post spawn…so 21,22,23,24,24, evening of the 26th being 6 days on. Well, I took a gamble, left a little more ambient room light falling on the eggs, and found that on the morning of the 27th, we still had a nice, solid nest. Come the evening of the 27th, I pulled the tile along with 5 gallons of broodstock water and 5 gallons of new saltwater, and set them up with a wooden airstone incubation. I used a second tile to prevent the tile from falling, as well as to help weigh down and position the wooden airstone under the eggs. (I found my wooden airstones from eBay seller hoolko, who happened to be mentioned on Reef Builders a while back).

Spawn #22 set up and ready for hatching in a 10 gallon tank.

Spawn #22 set up and ready for hatching in a 10 gallon tank.  Note the larvae already hatched!

Within minutes of transferring the nest, I had a few larvae hatch, still in full light.

Newly hatched Lightning Maroon Clownfish offspring swims next to the Seachem Ammonia Alert Badge....

Newly hatched Lightning Maroon Clownfish offspring swims next to the Seachem Ammonia Alert Badge….

I left things go, not feeding or anything else. By the morning of January 28th, I had a few dozen larvae in the tank, but the bulk of the eggs remained unhatched. I weighed my options a bit, and ultimately decided to introduce some rotifers (about 2 gallons worth) but refrained from adding any phytoplantkon. I thought maybe I’d have more hatches later in the day, but come nightfall, nothing had happened. Would this be a botched hatch?

Apparently yes and no. This morning (the 29th) several hundred larvae were present in the tank, but many many more dead eggs were on the bottom. Most of the larvae held tightly to the black back wall of the 10 gallon tank.

Spawn #22 after the large hatch, before cleanup.

Spawn #22 after the large hatch, before cleanup.

I took the opportunity to first siphon off all the dead eggs (and dead larvae) on the bottom before tinting the tank with 50 drops of RotiGreen Omega.

Spawn #22 after cleaning up the larval tank.

Spawn #22 after cleaning up the larval tank.

I gave the rotifers their morning feeding of RotiGrow Plus, and later this evening they’ll get the next infusion of rotifers. I’m thinking I will once again work on a system of water changes, lowering salinity, and 24 hour lighting, to grow this batch, and as I discovered, I will once again at minimum split the batch early on.

The Holdback F1 Lightning Maroon Clownfish Pair

So I finally pulled the trigger on pairing up my holdbacks.  The Ecoxotic cube had been up and running for a while with a single holdback Lightning in it, so I swapped the fish and simply added in my Lightnings as a pair (they had formerly been neighbors, side by side) on 1/21/2014.

Initially, things went very well.  Here’s some video the day after, 1/22/2014.

Unfortunately, things didn’t continue down this blissful path.  A few days later, the larger fish turned on the smaller fish, damaging a few fins and forcing me to segregate the fish around 1/25/2014.  Currently, it is the larger, “future female” Lightning Maroon who resides in a drilled specimen cup.

Future pair of F1 Lightning Maroon Clownfish

Future pair of F1 Lightning Maroon Clownfish

The Holdback White Stripe Maroon F1 Pair

I should mention that somewhere in January I shuffled some fish around and introduced my two F1 PNG White Stripe holdbacks to each other as well.  The pairing has gone so-so.  They are not paired, but they continue to share their tank, the smaller fish cowering in a protected area but not otherwise excessively abused.  I’ll try to snag some photos at some point.  This will be a very important pairing to breed, as it will help definitively answer the question as to whether the “white stripe” siblings carry any special genetics (and it will prove or disprove the presence of a recessive Lightning gene).

Stumbled across this post last week and figured I’d share it here – Brandon Mehlhoff shared some updates on LM15 and its PNG mate over on Reef2Reef.  I snagged one of his videos showing the pair here:

Go see more over about Brandon’s Lightning Maroon on!

Surfing Concrete

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Walked into the fishroom Thursday night and saw something on the floor that didn’t belong there…

Upon closer inspection…

It would appear that White Stripe #12, aka. WS12, had some suicidal tendencies.

Now, before I get a bunch of nasty or snide comments about how I should be using covers on my tanks, you probably need to look at this:

This is how I keep the vast majority of my Lightning Maroons covered up. With heavy ceramic tile no less.  WS12 is, to the best of my recollection, the 2nd Lightning Maroon offspring to have jumped in the entirety of the project.  And no, I didn’t do this after the fact…

Please, if you’re keeping any of my fish – no open top tanks.  It’s just too risky.  Don’t think clownfish can’t / won’t jump.


It’s been a busy couple weeks around MACNA and I wasn’t even THERE this time! I have to circle back to the last update which left us with Spawn #9′s babies disappearing, and the laying down of Spawn #10 on 8-26-2013.

Well…I did not pulled Spawn #10 as planned on the night of September 2nd – I think folks are right in terms of me getting confused counting nights vs. days; if counting “nights”, 8-26 was the first night, meaning that the 7th night would be 9-1-2013. The pair was going nuts tending the eggs that evening, which tends to indicate a pending hatch. So the eggs were pulled on the evening of 9-1-2013, only 144 hours post spawn.

Lightning Maroon Clownfish Spawn #10, the 7th night (144 hours post spawn)

Lightning Maroon Clownfish Spawn #10, the 7th night (144 hours post spawn)

This worked somewhat well – the next morning there was a hatch of possibly as many as 100 offspring.

Hatch on Spawn #10, the 7th night (144 hours post spawn)

Hatch on Spawn #10, the 7th night (144 hours post spawn)

Hatch on Spawn #10, the 7th night (144 hours post spawn)

Hatch on Spawn #10, the 7th night (144 hours post spawn)

With the bulk of the eggs NOT hatching this night, I opted to move the tile to another spare black round tub so that the next night’s hatch would be separated and any dying / decaying eggs would not pollute the first group.

The next night, there was a very small hatch, and most of the eggs were found dead. I transferred all the larvae I could find (< 10) in with their siblings from the night prior.

Meanwhile, an incident with the 2012 group of Lightning Maroons the week prior resulted in the demise of LM10 on September 4th.

LM10, expired, the postponed results of a beating by its siblings.

LM10, expired, the postponed results of a beating by its siblings.

It’s hard to say exactly what occurred, but several days prior when observing the remaining ‘communally’ grouped offspring, I noticed that both pectoral fins on LM10 had been chewed back – this is a common fin damage the fish inflict upon each other while sparring, and all times prior, segregating the fish has resulted in a quick recovery. For whatever reason, LM10 did not recover, but instead spiralled downhill, going of feed, breathing heavily and ultimately dying. It is my guess that a systemic bacterial infection took hold and made quick work of this fish, but ultimately I’ll never know for sure.

Meanwhile, with the last fish shipping from the Round 2 auctions, it opened up enough holding space to prevent any future murders or problems with aggression. As of 9-4, all the remaining siblings were segregated, whether into the holding cubes or breeder nets placed in the growout system.

Lightning Maroons and White Stripe siblings, all now segregated.


Spawn 10, as of 9-4-2013

Spawn 10, as of 9-4-2013

This was pretty much the last look I had ad what had seemed like a promising run for Spawn #10. The next day, on 9-5, the offspring crashed and vanished, and were gone by Friday, the 6th. Water tests revealed nothing conclusive, no elevated ammonia or low pH to blame. Ironically, the the tub that had contained the 2nd night’s hatch from spawn 10, 2 stragglers evaded my attempts to combine them with their siblings, and so tonight, 9-10, there is at least one viable offspring remaining from spawn #10. ONE.

It would seem that the Lightning Maroon pair has finally hit its stride in the sex department, so at least my seemingly never-ending blunders are met with the chance to do better the next time! On 9-4-2013, the pair put down spawn #11.


Lightning Maroon Clownfish Spawn #11, laid 9-4-2013

Lightning Maroon Clownfish Spawn #11, laid 9-4-2013

It’s my plan to do things differently this time. I’m going to skip the black round tub (BRT) in favor of the “traditional” 10 gallon aquarium. It is my thought that at least part of my difficulties lie in the lack of access to viewing the offspring from anyplace other than above. This makes it difficult to gauge whether larvae are standing on the bottom, or in midwater, while not visible from above.

The big question tonight – being 9-10, now roughly 144 hours post spawn, do I pull it? I should get some larvae if I pull the nest, but it again may be premature…

One other note – one new fish added to the “inventory” – LM17 is the only offspring to be around so far from 2013.  You can read all about him here.


I’ve invited all winning bidders from the Blue Zoo Aquatics Lightning Maroon Clownfish auctions to share updates here on the Lightning Project’s website to allow me and others to keep track of the offspring after thye’ve left my care.

Susan Ingold of S & R Clownfish sent an update and a few images of WS8 and WS10 on September 7th, and I wanted to share her update with you on this future F1 pairing of the Lightning Maroon’s White Stripe offspring. Here’s the update from Sue:

WS8 and WS10 adjusting to their new home.

WS8 and WS10 adjusting to their new home.

“Update on ws#8 and ws#10. The day they arrived which was Wednesday[September 4th], they both looked fine and went into their 29g qt together. All was well the first day and I left them to go out for a while and when I came back I saw that #10 had been picked on by #8 and had some shredded fins but no major damage. I sent my husband for a breeder box for the smaller one at Matt’s suggestion but while he was gone I decided to place some egg crate between them. That seemed to work well until later on when I saw that the fish had exchanged sides! I went out to the garage for another piece of egg crate and used railroad ties to keep them together to form a tight fit to the back of the tank.
Single Egg-Crate Divider in place...

Single Egg-Crate Divider in place…

The next two days were uneventful of course. I could tell there was some resentment from the smaller one because she wanted to swim around and explore her new home.  The other just wanted to bully.
Today is Saturday and since I was home from work and could watch them I pushed the egg crate a little so they could visit each other.  Watching them was a good thing to do as the little one did the twitching to let the other know he was submissive.
WS10 and WS8 on a date.

WS10 and WS8 on a date.

When I walked away and then came back it was worse. It’s like they know I am watching them.  When I took pictures yesterday they actually hogged the camera as if they knew what I was doing so I guess Matt took lots of pictures of all of them.  So, after leaving the egg crate sideways for about 30 minutes I decided to close it off again.
WS8 and WS10, separated once more.

WS8 and WS10, separated once more.

When I can hang around in my bedroom and read or watch tv I will do the same again. Hopefully by the end of my qt time which I was hoping to be  around 30 days, they will be fine together.  Time will tell. I am planning on keeping them together for breeding so as to further the investigation of the genetics on the PNG Lightning Maroons as well as producing good healthy maroons that might want to be used by others working with the png bloodline in the future.  I will be very happy to have happy and healthy fish as well.” - Sue Ingold, S &R Clownfish

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