The Lightning Project

The ongoing saga of the PNG Lightning Maroon Clownfish Breeding Project

Browsing Posts tagged artificial incubation

So I discovered a trick last night – if I run my finger over a clownfish nest, the fish inside the eggs will wiggle if alive. So despite having had no appreciable hatch all day, I pulled the tile, sanitized it again with H2O2, and threw it back in the larval tank.  I DID get a few eggs to hatch during the vigorous aeration in the sanitizing dip, so that further told me I was on the right path.

I didn’t get to check the nest until 4 PM today, but sure enough, there were significantly more larvae in the tank.  It required a new strong feeding with rotifers.  I once again tested the eggs…still viable, so I put some ChloramX in the water, and left the tile back in there.  They may not get checked again until tomorrow…

Lots going on in the basement.

Spawn #33 is almost all through meta at this point, so this afternoon I turned on the system water.  It’s sad that I’ve never used my larviculture system as it was meant to be used by design, but hey, finally, I’m doing it right.  The system water is dripping through at a rate of roughly 1-2 drops per second…a very slow flow at this point but it should slowly flush out larviculture water over the next day or two.

Spawn #34, well, I botched it.  I did have more hatch out during the day today, but I discovered tonight that I had neglected to return the heater to the tank after I cleaned it last night. So basically the eggs went from 84F down to room temp, which was probably 76F.  Historically, any time temps go down on eggs, I’ve found it to be a bad thing.  I returned the heater to the tank, made sure it was really greened up, added some rotifers, and will now wait to see if anything else hatches out in the next 24 hours…

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?

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…

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.

In short, Spawn #29 was not pulled on Monday, the 14th, as I had initially suspected.  Looking at it, I opted to wait until Tuedsay, the 15th, to pull it, 7th day post spawn.  I used well-aged new saltwater which was 1.026; same as the broodstock water.  Water temp may have been a couple degrees cooler.  The eggs were given a H2O2 bath for roughly 15 minutes (4 ml to 0.5 gallons saltwater), and then placed in the 10 gallon hatching tank with a wooden airstone.

Come Wed. morning, there had been minimal hatch, most eggs were on the tile and still looked viable.  I saw only one larvae swimming.  I opted to do nothing, and let it go another day.  Come Thursday morning, once again, no eggs on the ground really, some dead larvae, and one viable offspring. Eggs were all dead come this evening.

I’ve noted repeatedly over the years that despite what everyone says about using ‘new saltwater’ for hatching and incubation, I NEVER have good look with it.  Was it the temp drop in this case?  Possible.  But every time I use broodstock water, I don’t feel like I have these problems :/

Talking with Mike on Friday, as best as we can figure out Spawn #25 was put down Saturday, February 22nd. This fits the timeline…come Friday night (Feb 28th) we’d be at 6 days post spawn, which is the earliest eggs hatch. I opted to wait until the 7th night, which was last night (Saturday, March 1st) to pull the tile.

Come Saturday morning, it was clear that some eggs were gone…perhaps as much as 50% of the nest must have hatched on the 6th night. But as we’ve seen so many times before, these eggs, for whatever reason, are prone to split hatching over 2 nights (a problem I also had and never fixed with my wild Onyx Perculas). So last night, technically 2AM this morning, I pulled the tile to prepare it for hatching.

I returned to the 15 minute hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) bath in broodstock water, and I drained the 10 gallon clownfish hatching tank, soaked it with FW, rinsed it all out, and filled it with 5 gallons of broodstock water. Thinking that either the use of clean new water, or a weak air setting, caused the hatch failure in Spawn #24, I set up the tile with a rather vigorous flow of air from the wooden airstone. A dime white moonlight at the far end of the tank was set up to draw larvae away from the heavier currents & flow of the hatching setup and tile.

By 3 AM, I took a peak and noticed there seemed to be a good hatch, so I harvested 1.5 gallons worth of rotifers and added 20 drops of RotiGreen Omega. I was feeling optimistic.

9 AM this morning, I checked in and removed both the hatching tile and the large tile that I had placed on the bottom to prevent the hatching tile from sliding / fall. To my disappointment, it appeared that most all larvae were on the bottom, and some were dead. There was only maybe a dozen eggs on the tile that had not hatched. I added almost 50 drops of RotiGreen Omega to help green up the water and hopefully get the babies up off the bottom; I also turned the air flow down significantly to just a trickle, feeling that perhaps I should have done this “last night”. Could it simply be that several hours of turbulence in the tank had caused some of the larvae to expend excessive amounts of energy and doomed them to a quick death?

I’ll be keeping an eye on these obviously….wish me luck.

I left for Reef Currents this past weekend in Houston, hosted by MARSH, and well, it was the typical dice roll of being a speaker…some things will be fine, and some things just won’t work out.  BTW, it was a great event – thanks for having me guys!

Spawn #24 never really hatched.  Despite being pulled after 6 days, there was nothing hatched Thursday morning before I left.  Friday, Mike had seen 1 or 2 larvae hatch, but the rest were still tightly held in their eggs.  Come Saturday, still no hatch, and come Sunday the eggs were definitely dead. So what did I do wrong?  Was it the use of completely new saltwater?  Insufficient aeration from the wooden air stone?  The fact that I didn’t sanitize the eggs with H2O2.  Incidentally, I spent part of the weekend with my friend Mike Hoang, who some readers may remember as the guy with the Gold Flake Maroons down in Houston…before ORA isolated theirs but after Sustainable Aquatics created and applied the name to theirs. I bring Mike up, because he actually breeds a lot of clownfish and has many tricks he’s very willing to share; one of the things he mentioned is that if he has a failed hatch, he does an H2O2 dip and then finds he has a hatch after wards.  So maybe there is something mechanical at play here; either heavier agitation is needed, or the H2O2 dip helps soften / break down the outer membrane of the egg, facilitating hatching (which normally might be facilitated by the parental clownfish biting on or otherwise roughly agitating the eggs).  All speculation…

I returned home Sunday to also find Spawn #25 had been put down.  Mike failed to mention that, so I’m not sure whether he noticed it or not (I’ve sent him an email to ask).  Based solely on how they looked when I saw them, I’m guessing they were laid on Saturday, February 22nd, 2014.  At least I get yet another chance.

The Lightning Maroon “holdback pair” is finally a true pair.  It wound up taking 4 separate introductions for the pairing to stick; the last time I introduced the larger female to the male was on Wednesday afternoon, and what I saw that suggested things would go different was a lack of fighting and a more conciliatory demeanor from the male.  Lots of cheek biting / nibbling by the male any time the female would lunge at him, and that nuzzling / nipping / biting behavior would quickly diffuse the larger fishes aggression.  Come morning there were no split fins, and the pair was spending considerable time together.  I took a calculated risk, and left them together while gone, with everyone knowing what to do and what warning signs should be watched for.  It’s been 5 days now, and they share a small bubble tip anemone.  Looks like this pairing is going to stick.

Sorry for the lack of photos…I’m simply too backlogged to do anything with them.  And besides, seen one clownfish nest, you’ve seen ‘em all.

Did anyone see the outrageous “Peace Keeper” Gold Stripe Maroons?  If not, go check ‘em out on ReefBuilders.

 

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