The Lightning Project

The ongoing saga of the PNG Lightning Maroon Clownfish Breeding Project

Browsing Posts in Breeding

This is the 8th spawn from the F1 Lightning X Lightning pair, and unlike all prior small nests, this is a nice tight half dollar sized group; at least a few hundred eggs.  And it’s the 2nd nest on a tile.  FINALLY, we might be getting somewhere.  The nest was spawned on the late evening of Wednesday, March 18th, 2015.

In other news, Spawn #50 for the wild lightning pair hasn’t gone so well…most of the eggs are gone, presumed eaten.  It was a much bigger nest..but looks like it’s still not working out right.  I also received word on 3/18 that the Great Lakes Aquarium’s pair was sitting on a 6 day old nest.  Additionally, Mike Doty’s pair spawned again!  I wonder who else has fish spawning for them now?

This is a spawn of note; on the evening of March 17th, 2015, the wild pair of PNG Lightning Maroon Clownfish and her PNG White Stripe mate put down their 50th spawn in captivity.  It looks like a good one, so I think they might be back on track!

I’m also just noting that my Nebula Percs threw down  nest the evening before, March 16th ;)

Until April, I’m not starting any new rearing projects, so I’ve just been watching eggs for time.  The Lightning X Lightning pairs eggs were viable and went full term.  Hatch timing is interesting however. By Saturday, March 14th, the Nebulas (which are A. percula) had hatched out (spawned on the 5th); meanwhile the Lightning’s eggs were still present and eyed up even though they had spawned a day later.  This seems odds, as the hatch timings seem flipped from the norm. The eggs from Lighting X Lightning Spawn #7  were gone only on Sunday morning, March 15th. Being spawned in the 6th, this seems long; 9 days?  The parents are typically 6.

It’ll be interesting to see what happens on their next spawn.

Last week was a flurry of clownfish sex.  March 4th, at 7 AM, I got a text image of the Lightning Maroon clownfish pair on display at the Great Lakes Aquarium; a small next was on the tank wall (I’m guessing laid on March 3rd?). This wasn’t the first spawn out of the pair; another had been seen, and evidence of prior spawns was also observable when the first spawn was discovered.

Mike Doty’s pair ALSO spawned; he shot me a text just a few hours later (10:30 AM) on March 4th as well.  I’m guessing they too spawned on the 3rd.  On the evening of March 5th, I found that the Nebula percula pair in my basement had spawned, and Friday, March 6th, the recently reunited Lightning X Lightning pair had thrown down their first nest as well; it’s a tiny nest, but it is viable.

It’s interesting how much of this breeding activity centered around the full moon.

Thursday evening (2-19-2015) I discovered a random small spawn from the other PNG White Stripe Maroons in the house. This pair has never been on a scheduled…they spawn infrequently, when the feel like it. As near as I can tell according to my notes here, this is only their 4th spawn.  By the evening of the 21st, the eggs were already gone, so nothing to even bother to try to hatch.  The next evening (2-20-2015), the pair of Nebula Percula I have on hand also spawned (really just noting it here as I’ve had no time to deal with their spawns!)

First, a bit of mythbusting – someone, somewhere, started some rumor that I had lost one or both of my lightning maroon clownfish pairs.  I heard about this from multiple people in early February, but never could pin down the source. Simply put, nothing could be further from the truth.  That said, there hasn’t been any production as of late…here’s why:

So nothing has been going on with the original Wild Lightning X White Stripe pair…they’re just sitting in their tank, not breeding.  I’m trying to figure out why, and here’s what I can come up with. First, when I put all the fish in the fishroom on a prophylactic course of Spectrum’s Ick-Sheild pellet, a Chloroquin-laced food, it shut down ALL my breeding pairs.  That said, most of my breeder pairs have returned to breeding…except the Lightning pair.  They had a few bad clutches and then just stopped.

Next, I had run out of their normal staple diet, Spectrum Thera-A.  So the fish were switched over primarily to feeds like Ocean Nutrition’s Formula One and Formula Two pellet as the daily staple.  Could a dietary switch account for failing spawns?  Perhaps.

Additionally, I noted tank temperatures were slightly down.  Instead of running around 80-82F, they look more like the 78F range lately.  I’m not exactly sure why this is, as I haven’t changed my room temperature nor have I adjusted their heater in any way.  Unless…unless their heater has failed and the tank is now just going down closer to the fishroom ambient temp.  I’ll have to investigate this.

Finally though, I noticed that my lights are coming on very late in the day; so I think my photoperiod is messed up and might be shorter on the tank. In fact, that seems like a logical explanation; we’re in winter, so ambient light cycles are reduced, and the length of day may be reduced as well.  In short, I may have to restore a longer photoperiod, restore warmer temps, ramp up foods and feedings, and hopefully see the pair return to active spawning.  But perhaps it’s good to give the fish a “winter break”…constant spawning certainly must take a toll on our marine fishes.

On the other front, the Lightning X Lightning pair hasn’t been spawning either, but I know why.  As readers may recall, I separated them on January 5th as the pair bond had deteriorated.  I chose to separate the female, isolating her in a breeder box from Florida Aqua Farms.  She remained in isolation for a solid 6+ weeks while the male recovered from his injuries.  Yesterday, 2-18-2015, I added her back into the main tank and watched.  At first, the male attacked her…she took it for about 1 minute, then grabbed the male by the pectoral fin, flipped him upside down, and simply held on while he struggled.  I thought for sure this was the end, but a little while later the pair was found cohabitating peacefully. 24 hours later, the pair remains in good shape, not a nick or scrape or torn fin on either fish.  This is not the first time that a “female time out” has proven to be a helpful factor in curbing excessive female aggression in my maroon clownfish pairing and breeding. I’d encourage people to keep this trick in mind with their own fishes.

Spawn #47 didn’t go anywhere and was gone after a few days. Spawn #48 was laid on 1/3/2014 by the wild Lightning X White Stripe Maroon Clownfish pair. It was a weak spawn, scattered, not a quality nest.  It certainly seems that putting the fish onto Ick Shield set them off their game.

Meanwhile, the Lightning X Lightning pair is just continuing to be in a funk. They’re not getting along, constantly bickering. This from a proven pair.  Today I found the male pretty beat up, and the female’s spiney dorsal fin is swollen and appears infected.  My plan is to at minimum segregate the pair, and possibly to move them into different quarters as well.

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Surprised to hear that tonight, Mike Doty’s pair of Lightning Maroon Clownfish had thrown down eggs. This is one of the freely distributed “genetic repository” pairs I placed locally, just in case anything ever happened here at home.

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The female Lightning Maroon, MD1, and male Morse Code Maroon, MD2, represent the first F1 sibling pair that I am aware of which should replicate the pairing of their parents. We already know of the results Soren Hansen had when pairing an F1 Lightning Maroon Clownfish with a wild White Stripe Maroon; I expect that Mike will see a 50/50 White Stripe/Lightning spread in the F2 generation from Mike’s parents.

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Filials, What the F?

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It seems that at least one irate aquarist thinks I’ve made up the concept of “F1″, “F0″ and so forth. Maybe as a marketing ploy even?! Nope, sorry, they’ve been around forever.

Originally, this content was intended for inclusion in the Conservation Breeding Chapter of my half of the book, Banggai Cardinalfish, which was published last year. Most of that last chapter was cut…we were 17 pages over-length and the most esoteric parts of the book were the first to go. But, I found the text in my drafts, and I’m publishing it here, very slightly edited from what I found in my drafts.

Filials Denote Generation and/or Inbreeding

You will routinely see the use of tags like F1, F2, and F3 attached to aquarium-produced specimens of wild-type forms in the freshwater trade, most often attached to fish from private versus commercial breeders. These notations are called filials, and are meant to convey the generational distance from the last “outcrossing,” that is, a mating between two completely unrelated fish.

Officially, F0, or generation zero, represents a pairing of two unrelated fish regardless of the source, and the resultant offspring are F1, the first generation. Mate those F1 fish together and you have F2, and so forth. However, in some cases, including in the general aquarium hobby, F0 more often used exclusively to mean a wild-sourced broodstock. This slight difference in use can cause a significant level of confusion.

From an inbreeding standpoint, and for tracing the extent of inbreeding, the use of F0 to denote the parents of an unrelated mating is both practical and proper. From a conservation standpoint, breeders are often concerned with “distance from the wild.” Given the possible conservation implications, and that the general accepted practice among freshwater hobbyists is to use filials to show distance from wild genetics, Banggai breeders might consider implementing the methodology outlined here.

F+ the number of generations away from wild-sourced genetics. Thus:

  • F0 denotes a wild fish.
  • F1 is generally the progeny of a wild pairing.
  • F2 is the offspring of an F1 X F1 pair, related or not.

When fish of different generations are mated, the resultant offspring are F+1 to whichever mate is already further away. For example, F3 X F5 = F6, not F4.

Problems arise when a captive line is outcrossed back to a wild fish. This fundamentally resets the inbreeding that has occurred, so F0 x F6 should be called F1. Many aquarists and breeders may disagree, considering such a “reset” as deceptive because only half of the parentage is wild, and thus insist that F0 X F6 should be denoted F7. Some breeders sidestep all this debate, using F0 for wild fish, F1 for progeny of wild fish, and “aquarium strain” to denote everything else.

The important final message is that filials are used by different people in different ways. From a genetics standpoint, the filial is hardly the final word, because it can mean two fundamentally different things: one breeder’s F6 fish may be far more genetically solid than another breeder’s highly inbred F3 specimens, and a third breeder’s F1 fish might be 10 generations removed from the wild. If there is any doubt, a conversation with the breeder should help clarify the meaning of the filial label he or she has applied.

In the very week morning hours (eg. 2 AM) on 12-13-2014, I discovered spawn #47 from the wild caught pair.  Obviously it was actually put down on Friday afternoon (12-12-14).  Now that the fish are off the Chloroquin-laced food, it’ll be interesting to see if this clutch holds out or not.

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