The Lightning Project

The ongoing saga of the PNG Lightning Maroon Clownfish Breeding Project

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I probably don’t keep as meticulous of records as I should, but the blog here allows me to keep decent notes, rather easily and quickly. From that, it’s possible to reconstruct what’s happened over the past 2 years in terms of spawns and their results, leaving perhaps a few gaps or uncertainties.  Here’s a recap, to the best of my records and recollection.

Spawn #34 – small hatch
Spawn #33 – now settled, probably 50-100 fish so long as I don’t screw it up.
Spawn #32 – all died
Spawn #31 – failed collection
spawn #30 = 10 or so alive, all in BRT, looking good
spawn #29 – failed hatch
spawn #28 – mostly failed hatch, all dead
spawn #27 = all at Mike’s – many alive (50+) and looking great
spawn #26 = all dead
spawn #25 = hatch failure?
spawn #24 = hatch failure
spawn #23 = not pulled
spawn #22 = all dead
spawn #21 = was 5 (3L 2WS), the 3L disappeared, found one in the sump, of the two remaining white stripes; perc killed them down to 1, and the survivor is in really rough shape as of today.
spawn #20 = no survivors
spawn #19 = no survivors
spawn #18 = no survivors
spawn #17 = no survirors
spawn #16 = no survirors
spawn #15 = By Nov 28th only 2 alive – I never did account for them, but I presume these were a couple that randomly “went missing” (it seems that many fish wind up going down a certain screened drain pipe)
spawn #14 = 2 lightnings and 1 White Stripe – I remember culling a batch quite heavily, and I’m assuming what is still here (LM19, LM20, WS17) are from that batch.; 10-24-13
spawn #13 = I have it noted as , hatched 9-30 (this might also be LM18, but it seems too small to have made it in with LM17 by the time I first documented it)
spawn #12 = no survivors
Spawn #11 = failed
Spawn #10 = ? (8-16-2013) – 1 survivor went in with fire clowns, LM18; based on other timelines, this is most likely where LM18 came from, because he was younger than LM19 and LM20
Spawn #9 = failed
spawn #8 = vanished (failed)
spawn #7 – failed hatch
spawn #6 = missed hatch
spawn #4 = (4-5-2014) – LM17 came from this clutch.
spawn #3 = no dice.
spawn #2 = where all the 2012 crop came from
Spawn #1 = they ate it…


As of 11 AM, it’s a small hatch on Spawn #34.  I added a little RotiGreen Omega to help keep the fish off the walls, and will check a bit later to see if the hatch has improved during the day.

Spawn #33 – Starting midday on 6/9, the first larvae started showing signs of metamorphosis and settlement; white spots on the heads of the Lightnings are among the first signs; most are through meta today.

Spawn #34 – Tonight is the scheduled hatch night; I used the 4 ml H2O2 / 0.5 gallon broodstock water as a 15 minute bath before placing them in a 10 gallon; 5 gallons of broodstock water and a coarse air feed going over the nest; they’ll sit for the night and I’ll be sure to check them in the AM.  Will there be a morning hatch yet again?

I made a rare 8 PM trek down into the fishroom tonight (6/4/2014) and discovered the Lightning Maroon and her mate putting down Spawn #34. Based on how things are going, next Tuesday night should be the pull night.

My attempt to get a second night’s hatch out of Spawn #33 utterly failed. I did place the tile back with the parents come morning, and I went through the egg sanitizing protocol (with H2O2) for another 15 minute bath. I saw ONE larvae hatch out…a total dud.  My plan for the next spawn will be to pull the tile and 20 gallons out of the broodstock tank (BIG water change); 10 gallons each will go into two BRTs, and then I’ll simply move the tile from the first night’s hatch into the 2nd BRT for the 2nd night, sticking with the egg sanitizing protocol (as it seems to be helping?)

Those larvae that are alive from Spawn #33 are doing reasonably well..they are plowing through rotifers at an alarming rate; I’m adding in new saltwater along with RO/DI Water daily, as well as small feedings of TDO A to supplement for what I think might be a rotifer shortage. Low doses of ChloramX and RotiGreen Omega continue to be pulsed in as well.

It is now a fact – big Lightning Maroon Clownfish hatches are happening in the morning. I went to bed sometime after 4:30 AM on June 1st, and a few hours later, around 8:30, the kids woke me up. So, I went down to look at the BRT – just a handful of larvae.  I checked with a light, none on the bottom…just a very weak hatch.

I greened up the tub with RotiGreen Omega and added 2 gallon’s worth of rotifers from a culture. I turned on the light, left the tile in place.  Around 10:30 AM, I went down again and I now had hundreds of larvae in the BRT.

I pulled the tile and gave it back to the parents…can’t remember if that was an idea raised here, or on Facebook, but it seemed like a good way to go.  I have yet to go back down tonight, but I’ll presumably set up yet another new tank for a hatch tonight and see if we get two solid night’s worth of larvae off this batch.  Things could get interesting.

It’s the night of 5/31 going into 6/1/2014, and right before 2:00 AM (6/1) I pulled the tile for the sanitizing H2O2 (Hydrogen Peroxide) dip. While going through the 15 minute treatment at 4 ML per 0.5 gallons of broodstock water, I wiped out the BRT which was used for Spawn #32 and refilled it with 10 gallons of water from the broodstock tank.  When I went to check on the eggs, with 25 seconds left, I discovered that about 30 larvae had already hatched.

I moved the tile into the BRT with good air flow using a coarse air stone and turned out the lights.  I then spent a little time pipetting some of the larvae from the specimen cup, but I ultimately did not get them all and some had to go down the drain.  I had to wonder – would these larvae be viable long term, or would their exposure to H2O2 burn them up and render them useless.  So I wasn’t overly concerned, and I also didn’t want to add too much of that bath water into the BRT.

I’ll try to check on the hatch again in the next 30-45 minutes…I wonder if they’re going to go really fast, or if it’s in spurts (you may recall my concern over “morning” hatches…)

UPDATE – as of 4:20 AM, a last check of the night after just under 2 hours reveals no further large hatching occurred.  I wonder if they’ll hatch come daylight?  Hard to say…

First, I must go back to 5/25/2014, Sunday night, when I discovered that spawn #33 had been laid.  So hatch should come this Saturday night.

Many people have asked when the next Lightning Maroon Clownfish will be sold.  You may recall last fall that Blue Zoo stated they were going to auction 6, but then only auctioned 3. In short, weather in Duluth got brutally cold and never let up, meaning we never could safely ship.  We had snow on the ground well into MAY this year…60+ days of temps that never made it ABOVE 0F.   In short, Blue Zoo Aquatics is ready to auction more Lightning Maroons.  It is currently me, at the moment, holding up the process (I need to get them the materials). Either way, it’s time to be on alert, and to start watching newsletters and emails and eBay.  I presume as soon as I get my butt in gear, Blue Zoo will be offering them up.

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.

Based on my calculations, 5/20 is the night we’re due to first have hatches. Having moved all the fry from Spawn #30 into a BRT “on the system”, I wiped down and drained their BRT, and refilled it with water from the Lightning Maroon’s broodstock aquarium. The tile with eggs (huge nest, 4″ X 2″) was placed in a 0.5 gallon specimen cup with 4 ml H2O2 for approximately 15 minutes, after which it was set up with a coarse airstone for hatching in the BRT. I confirmed that the air is flowing directly over the eggs at a moderate clip.  This *should* be a good hatch if I’ve done things right.

Side note on spawn #30 – ultimately the split was a nice dice roll – 8 Lightnings and only 3 White Stripes.

As of 5/13/2014, there were two fish from spawn #30 who had yet to undergo metamorphosis; the rest had. Trying to avoid past issues of small groups doing well and then just dying randomly, I selected 3 lightning juveniles and moved them into an empty black round tub that’s running on the larviculture system.  When 5/14/2014 came around, and those 3 test subjects remained alive, I transferred over 3 more Lightnings and one White Stripe offspring.  This leaves 1 White Stripe, 1 Lighting, and 2 unsettled juveniles in the larviculture BRT as of 5/15/2014.

In other news, the Lightning pair put down Spawn #32 on the slanted tile sometime in the afternoon/evening of 5/14/2014.

Then, there is the mystery.  I don’t recall what spawn these offspring are from at the moment, but I had a small group of 5 growing up in a BRT; what amounted to 3 Lightnings and 2 white stripes.  Mysteriously one day, all the Lightnings went missing.  I presumed there had been fighting and jumps, but I never found bodies on the floor. This evening, when doing my feedings, I discovered one of those missing Lightnings sitting on the bottom of a cube tank on the top run. This would seem to confirm that the babies did jump, although perhaps they either went down the overflow or otherwise landed in the sump beneath, and this one apparently made it through the PUMP (WOW) along with a small Onyx Percula (also discovered in the tank today)?!  At least that’s the only possible explanation I have, but wow, I am shocked that these fish would have made it through the pump at all…they weren’t that small!

I can only say this is bizzare.  I have yet to give the sump a more thorough examination tonight with a flash light, but I would not be surprised to find a couple more clownfish hiding in the dark down there!  The Onxy Perc and the single lightning were both placed back onto the Onyx Percula tub for the time being; frankly the Lightning did not look to be in good shape, and I would not be surprised if it doesn’t make it.

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