It figures just as I’m starting to contemplate moving the Lightning Maroon Clownfish and her mate out of the basement and back upstairs into a display tank, she goes and throws down a whopping big nest of eggs back on 3-16-2013.  I sat on that news a bit mainly because I’ve been fundamentally too busy to share it; among other things, this has been a month on edge as we are expecting our second child.  At this point, we had labor over a month ago…so every little pain or contraction has me (and my wife) wondering if “this is it”.  For a month.  To say I’m frazzled is an understatement.

But sitting on this news did make for an excellent double-gotcha on this year’s “traditional” Reef Builders Lightning Maroon Clownfish April Fools for 2013.  No, I did not partner with Monsanto to clone the Lightning Maroon.  But those with real keen eyes did notice something they hadn’t seen before – Lightning Maroon eggs in a flowerpot ;)  Curtis Kramer, Brandon Mehlhoff, and “Ted” – kudos to you for your mad powers of observation.

Here’s the spawn from 3-16-2013.

So this “third spawn” from 3-16-2013 hatched out on 3/24.  Here’s a photograph of the next the night before hatching, 3/23/2013.

By 3/27, it appeared that most babies were gone, but “no worries” I thought.  Why?  Because that evening, Lightning and her mate threw down another big nest that night, 3/27/2013.  That is the spawn I included pictures of on our April 1st, 2013, prank.

I pulled spawn #4 on the evening of 4/3 (technically wee hours of 4/4/2013 – my fishroom lights go off at 2:30 AM these days); the eggs went into a black round tub with 5 gallons of the water from the broodstock aquarium. Of course, it appears I jumped the gun as they didn’t hatch overnight and were still intact on 4/4/2013.  The bulk of the hatch occurred on the night of 4/5/13 leading into the next morning, although many babies and eggs were found dead yet upon the evening of 4-6, there were still apparently very viable unhatched eggs.  So a hatch potentially spread out over 3 nights?

As of today, 4/10/2013, there were maybe 5 larvae swimming around in the BRT.  If this was any other clownfish, I’d probably skip trying to rear them and just wait for my next run.

Admittedly, I am frustrated by this – my Onyx Percula pair has always had split hatches, and it seems that now the Lightning Maroon is as well and even my newly spawning Fire Clown pair (Amphiprion ephippium) is doing so as well.  The mortality following hatch is drastically high right now; it could be how I’m hatching them in the BRT.  There must be something about my husbandry or technique causing this, but I’m not sure what it is.  Off to ask the experts…

And sadly, the result of this is that there are STILL only a handful of Lightning Maroon offspring that will be put up for sale – even if I got a massive run at this point, it wouldn’t be until fall or winter that they’d be market size.  But there is hope.  As of 10:30 PM on 4/10/2013…yet another nest laid (Spawn #5).  I’ll be blunt; given that we could have a newborn baby in the house any day now, the odds are good that I’ll totally botch or not even get to spawn #5.  So for now, scant few, if any additional lightnings on the horizon beyond what I’ve already raised!

This does raise one burning question – do I move the pair back upstairs and risk putting them off their stride, simply to have them back on battery backups and such, or do I place a pairing of their offspring upstairs.  No easy call there…