If you’ve been paying attention to the pairing experiments and attempts I made with the PNG Maroon pairs (the Lightning + White Stripe Pair and the other normal PNG WS pair) you’ll recall that in both cases, I kept the males in small isolated chambers within the larger female’s tank for several months, and yet each time, introduction of the male would ultimately result in malevolent rejection of the male by the female.  Eventually, through suggestions including a particularly interesting one from Mitch May, I wound up getting both pairs to work.  In part, I attribute this to a “role reversal”, what I’m calling the female flip, wherein for a short period of time, I allowed the “male” fish full access to the tank, while the “female” can only sit and watch.  In both cases, the change to this technique for only a few days or a week (I can’t remember…I’d have to look back) resulted in pairs that while initially appearing shaky, are now solidly bonded pairs.

You may also recall that I had many other Maroon Clowns on site.  Well, the Gold Stripe Maroon pair spawned in the last week but it was a small nest that disappeared quite quickly.  I’m guessing that this may have been the first spawn between the old female GSM (she was the one spawning with the PNG male that is now with the Lightning) and the Gold Stripe Male I had sent from the west coast.  Regardless, that pairing was a breeze.  One of the other normal White Stripe Pairs was sold off this week, and I still have one other I’m trying to find a home for as well now that they’ve served their purpose in the project.  Meanwhile, the Labrador Maroon, Frank’s big ‘ole Maroon, remained unpaired as it was, for a long time, the fish being used to keep the Lightning Maroon a male.  All attempts to pair the Labrador with a medium sized white stripe have failed.

Now, it’s important to note that these fish have now been in contact for maybe a couple months or more, the smaller of the two was given to me by a hobbyist who had tried to use it as the “female” in a pair (the failed “male” in that failed pairing is now mated with the larger Maroon that Debbie from the Twin Cites contributed).  So maybe it’s too late, maybe this “female” is actually a female, and thus, will continue to be rejected by the Labrador?  You might think that until you watched how desperately the smaller maroon acts out the male behaviors and wants to be with the Labrador.  Well, the Labrador is having none of this.

The other evening I tried a normal introduction, releasing the smaller fish into the main tank.  It instantly dove to the flower pot occupied by the Labrador Maroon and started doing submissive twitching an the cheek kissing that seems to be the normal behavior for a Maroon Clownfish who’s trying to appease a potential mate.  Well, 1.5 minutes in, the little maroon was shredded, and yet it was STILL trying desperately to be with the Labrador.

So I quickly pulled out a 4 gallon drum style fishbowl…I had these on hand for use as kriesels back when I was breeding Harlequin Filefish (Oxymonacanthus longirostris).  I threw it in the tank, put the Labrador Maroon in it, and got it rigged up so that there is some water flow but the big Maroon is trapped.  This will be yet another test of the “female flip”…will a week of isolation like this temper the Labrador’s mean streak and allow these two Maroon clowns to be finally firmly paired up?

Here’s video of how it’s going a day in.