The Lightning Project

The ongoing saga of the PNG Lightning Maroon Clownfish Breeding Project

Browsing Posts tagged Bubble Tip Anemone

Just because the Morse Code Maroon failed to make it doesn’t mean that the Lighting Project is on hold.  Far from it.

The Lightning Maroon is having problems….keeping anemones in the new cage!  They keep LEAVING it, and the Lightning Clown has grown accustomed to having a BTA to frolic in.  So I added some more tiles to the bottom of the cage, but still, the BTAs flee the scene!   Not sure what I’m going to do here, if anything.

Remember my  “jumpers”?  Well, it turns out that the Sumatran Fire Clown was not jumping out of the breeder net, but escaping through a gaping hole that the Bristletail Filefish had gnawed in the netting.  Yesterday, I found the Fire Clown in bad shape, pummeled by all three Centropyge argi and the big Labrador Maroon.  I got it out, put it back in the net, and a couple hours later, found it again out of the net, beat up even more.  It was then that I discovered the hole in the bottom of the net.  The discovery came too late, and the Fire Clown was dead by morning.  Now, this fish was never a risk to either Maroon Clown, as it was far smaller.  I only share this story here to serve as a reminder of how vicious marine fish can be.  I blame the Fire Clown however, for not learning the first and second time to stay IN THE NET where it was safe, and blame myself for not catching the hole sooner.

The Brooklynella on the remaining largest juvie PNG Maroon seems to have disappeared, and all 4 remaining juveniles are doing well.  The one that jumped and got in a tiff with the other seems to be recovering quickly, and honestly may be my utlimate mate choice for the Lightning Maroon.  But I have yet to really think all of that through now.

The big female Gold Stripe Maroon (GSMs are from Sumatra) from Jonica and Scott is settling in well and has taken a shine to her little PNG mate.  There was never the slightest hint of aggression between these two fish.  The female was shy, but a week on is starting to adjust to seeing me come at her from the side (Jonica can tell you that she lived in a big vat, the entire surface covered in Chaetomorpha, so the only way she saw humans for the past several months was from above).  I had some new arrivals show up this week for another breeding project – Meiacanthus bundoon!  They seemed like a great match for this mis-matched pair of Maroon Clowns.  Sadly for Joncia’s GSM, her new “mate” is also up as a possible candidate as a mate to the Lightning Maroon…I like the color, and the fact that it has a broken tailbar to me says “increased chance of genetic predisposition to stripe variations”.  I’ll close with some updated pictures of the GSM, her PNG Mate, and the new Bundoons!

Jonica & Scott's Goldstripe Maroon, and her little PNG white striped mate!

A little community of Bundoon Blennies and a mismatched pair of Maroons!

A little community of Bundoon Blennies and a mismatched pair of Maroons!

Meiacanthus bundoon, the Bundoon Blenny

Bundoon Blenny

Meiacanthus bundoon, the Bundoon Blenny

Today was just a crazy day.  A week in the making, I owe a bit of thanks to Jonica and her husband Scott (rest of her name withheld for privacy).  They provided the impetus for a day long road trip from Duluth to the Twin Cities region to pick up another massive female Maroon Clownfish.  This one happens to be a Gold Stripe Maroon (Sumatran form).  She’s pretty darn big, although the “Labrador” female from Frank & Mary has at least another 2 inches on her!  Thanks for this great donation to the cause.  She’ll have a good home here!

As you may know, the *plan* for whatever big female I could find was to place her on the other side of the eggcrate with the “Morse Code” Maroon in the hopes of applying social pressure to test the sexuality of the Morse Code maroon, and hopefully keep it a male if it still could be a Male.

Let me say now that the Morse Code Maroon continues to decline despite being hit with both Maracyn and Maracyn Two in combination.  So I’ve now thrown three antibiotics at this problem with no resolution.  It’s a slow progressing infection, but frankly, I hate to see fish suffer for so long.  Here’s where things looked tonight when I got home.

Now, I must say that I’m toying with swabbing that with Hydrogen Peroxide.  At this point, what else can I really do?!

Meanwhile, there is no way, and arguably no point, to introduce the new female Gold Stripe Maroon on the other side of the divider.  The Morse Code is lethargic to the point where social pressure isn’t going to do a darn thing for it.  There’s no positive upside at the moment to risking the GSM, so instead, she was placed into one of the QT Tanks with one of the smallest 3 PNG Maroons.  Submission was instantaneous on the part of the little Maroon, so it is safe to say that at minimum, this one small PNG Maroon will remain male until called upon for service!

IF by some crazy chance this pair happened to spawn, I may opt to rear the babies solely for practice, but all of them would be humanely euthanized.  This may sound very cruel, but the reality is that such offspring are possible “hybrids” (there has been talk in the past that the Gold Stripe Maroon could be reclassified as a different species).  Regardless, they would be a mixing of color variants / races, which for all intents and purposes is something fish breeders should strive to avoid.  Afterall, I could hypothesize that the resultant offspring could turn out like either parent, or more likely a muddled version of a GSM.  And the reality is they wouldn’t be discernible by the average hobbyist or even most breeders.  In other words, there is NO upside to releasing such a fish into the hobby.  So yes, they would be put down.  But at least I would get some valuable experience rearing Premnas larvae.  Long term though, this temporary pairing will be split up, and each fish ultimately placed with an appropriate mate.

Meanwhile, I finally found the time to do a bit of eggcrate and zip tie fabrication.  The Lightning Maroon has been given a larger, more spacious home with a better view and the ability to better interact with the Labrador Maroon.  If they couldn’t see each other before, now they can.  The new eggcrate cage is pretty substantial.  I’ve heard stories, I think one told to me by Carl Kmiec, of clownfish being able to fertilize a spawn even when separated by eggcrate, even several inches away.  Could that happen in this situation?  Who knows?!

New larger "egg crate" breeder net!

Hinged top opens to provide easy access. Used the frame from an old breeder net to provide easy hangers.

The Lightning Maroon Clownfish chilling in his deflated bubble tip anemones.

One more top down view of the Lightning Maroon chlling in its RBTA!

That’s going to be it for tonight!  Catch you tomorrow!

Where’ve I been???

3 comments

Well folks, nothing new to say really.  There are PNG Maroons being held @ Blue Zoo Aquatics by the trusty staff there…they’ll send them to me when the time is right.  In the meantime, the Lightning Maroon enjoys swimming in its Bubble Tip Anemones, and I enjoy being a new dad!  Yes, not much to say…amazing how “boring” and un-news-worthy each day is when there’s nothing to say other than “it’s still alive” :)

I have 4 empty tanks up and running, fully established and ready for new PNG Maroons.  Some of these are dividable as well.  I’ve been setting my sights on getting the fishroom at large up and running, as well as trying to figure out a permanent home for the Lightning Maroon and its mate (when it’s finally paired up!).  I’m sure this wait is simply killing some of you out there…nothing good in this hobby ever happens when you rush it!

So good news!  The fine folks @ SEASMART and BLUE ZOO have more PNG Maroons for me, on their way from Fisherman’s Island! Amazing how a short chain of custody, with fish collected specifically to fill particular orders, can work to the hobbyist’s benefit.  I’m eager to see what arrives and to document it all.

But of course, things couldn’t go smoothly.  That’s just not the way.  Patience is key if you’re going to find the right time.

First, it was a snowstorm in Duluth MN in MAY. Yes, it SNOWED.  Mark Martin was all set to send ‘em, but a snowstorm isn’t really ideal for the fish to make it here safely.  Check it out!  No Joke!

It's snowing in Duluth, MN in MAY!

Yes...that's May 7th, 2010!

Of course, I figured probably, after the weekend, things would be better.  But Sunday night, my wife and I got the surprise of our lives.  Our baby was coming a full month early and there wasn’t gonna be any stopping it.  We didn’t know what we were having.  Monday morning, May 10th, 7:15 AM, Renee and I had our first child, a baby boy, coming in at 5 lbs, 5 oz., and 17″.  We named him Ethan Thomas Pedersen!

Ethan Thomas Pedersen

Ethan Thomas Pedersen, born 5-10-10

So…being premature (and missing having an obligatory stay at the NICU by a DAY), we’ve had a crazy week.   I instantly had to let Mark know that nothing could be shipped until further notice!  Everything fish-related has been in a holding pattern.  We’d been staying at the hospital day and night since he was born, and as recently as this afternoon, it was looking like he’d be there until Sunday at least.  Mostly, I just snuck in a couple times a day to take the dog out, feed the fish, and maybe a water change here and there.  But, a few hours ago, in what I can only describe as another stunning twist, they gave Ethan the green light to come home!

So finally we’re home, and life, while never returning to “normal” as I knew it, will still hopefully settle down a bit and we’ll get into a routine.  Part of that routine means being home and able to handle new fish when the arrive on my doorstep.  Mark has been waiting patiently, and currently, the 10-day forecast is showing daytime highs in the 70′s.  With no snow in sight, and me returning to work next week, the timing is finaly perfect for the newest ambassadors from Papua New Guinea (and SEASMART) to show up on my doorstep.  There will be fresh rounds of quarantine, and if all goes well, we could be back to pairing attempts in a few weeks!

In the meantime, the Lightning Maroon has settled in, enjoys his three Bubble Tip Anemones, and in every respect has adjusted to captive life.  It’s only a matter of time before the next chapter begins.

Some of the readers of this blog are aware that we had a pending home purchase in the works when this project started.  Thankfully it was a short move.  NOTHING like my marathon 8-hour drive move from Chicago, IL to Duluth, MN, where I moved 4 reefs and 2 juvie tanks all in one shot in one car.   No, this was not going to be anything that drastic.

The short story is that after months of wrangling with the seller (Freddie Mac) we were supposed to close on Friday.  Let me tell you now that Freddie Mac, as a seller, was absolutely horrible to deal with.  We probably got a great deal on the house, and now that I sit here I’m pretty happy about it I guess.  But if you find yourself looking to purchase a foreclosure (we didn’t know it was when we first put in offers), be forewarned that what you hear about foreclosure purchases is probably true.  Whoever was handling our house as Freddie Mac genuinely should be fired.   I say that because Freddie Mac is a company and had something to sell.  When you are trying to sell something to a consumer, the last thing you should do is treat them like crap and screw up the deal.  Honestly, were it not for my wife, I would’ve walked away from the entire deal sometime last week, and yes, it would’ve largely been out of spite and teaching someone a lesson.

I had several members of our local marine aquarium club, LSMAC (Lake Superior Marine Aquarium Club) who were going to come help move stuff, including fish.  Of course, the seller screwed things up on their side and pushed our closing to Monday.  Which meant all that great help in moving basically evaporated.  My inlaws (bless them!) came Sunday and helped us pack.  Renee did all she could despite being almost 8 months pregnant.  We moved all the house stuff into trucks on Sunday, and all Monday we unloaded, again with the help of my wife’s parents, as well as a coworker’s husband and one of his friends (wow, thanks again…two people to me who are basically strangers helped us move – I am still floored and grateful they came to our rescue to help!).

The first opportunity to move fish came Tuesday evening, when fellow aquarist Nick Krumrie came to my rescue and helped me move the 4 reefs.  Things really couldn’t have gone more smoothly.  We moved each 24 gallon nanocube one at a time.  Basically draining out the water, saving it all in buckets, removing the rocks and fish, driving them to the new house and setting them back up.  Nick got to try his hand at aquascaping the second one we moved and he did some stuff I’ve never tried with those rocks!   Interesting to see someone else’s creativity with the same materials.

And no, I’m not forgetting…you’re all here to read about the Lighting Maroon Clownfish!  Well, I’m happy to report that the tank housing him (and the Labrador Maroon from Frank & Mary) was the last one we moved on Tuesday night.  It’s a bit over 24 hours later, and the Lightning Maroon is doing fine.  I haven’t fed today because the tanks are already compromised…no need to add MORE waste to them at this point.  The only loss I’ve had on this move was a male Orange-Tail Dottyback…killed by the female.  I knew it was risky letting them “play” but they’ve been next to each other for months while forcing the sex reversion.  The best time to introduce them was when EVERYONE was new to the tank, or so I thought.  Figures.  Chalk up another breeding failure.

I’ll leave you with an interesting side note.  I think I discovered a way to stimulate Red Bubble Tip Anemones to split.  I say that, because I moved four clones on Tuesday night.  2 were recent splits and are small, but the other 2 were rather large (i.e. one filled up a 6 gallon nanocube).  I noticed today that the 2 large ones both have split following the move, and they are in totally different tanks.  It’s definitely NOT coincidence…something about the move caused them to split.

As best as I can determine,  I’m guessing there was a temperature drop combined with a lack of circulation, and/or possibly having physical stress being placed on the anemone during the moving process (i.e. low water levels, sagging weight).  In other words, a bit of  “stress” applied to the anemone caused a healthy mature specimen to split.  I don’t know if it was one stimuli or a combination, but it’s certainly no coincidence in my opinion.

Interesting find.  I wonder if it can be replicated again or by someone else.

So just discovered the female PNG Maroon dead this morning.   End of her story.  The entire tank has crashed out…once agian, a tank running for months and at one point had 150 small black ocellaris in it.  .  Both anemones I had in the tank are dead too.  Basically I was unable to do anything yesterday with the house closing and the move, and that was all it took for things to crap out big time.  As best as I can piece together, I’m going to blame the Methelyne Blue dip.  Here’s what I think happened.

I think that despite the rinse water following the Methelyne Blue dip, that enough Methelyne Blue made it back into the tank to kill the anemone.   Afterall, the fish that had just been dipped went straight back into the anemone, possibly carrying with it whatever small amounts of Methelyne Blue made it past the rinse.  And then it rolled around in the nem, so any MB that was absorbed in the slime, even in that short 10 second dip, would’ve been directly brought back to the nem.  Once the anemone died and fouled the small tank, soon after, the PNG Female was overcome with ammonia and general decay and being already in poor healthy, *poof*, a dead fish.

Lesson learned – I’m sure I’ve read it before, and I should have thought it through earlier perhaps.  You can’t use a medicated dip on a clown that’s hosting in an anemone, lest you bring that medication back to the tank and thus, kill the anemone.  At least that’s what I THINK happened here, as I really have no other explanation for why it’d suddenly die off.

So, after last night’s update, I went downstairs and gave the fish a closer look and that’s when I saw something I really didn’t like. The female’s right eye was distended and had a big black splotch on it. There was not a spot of Cryptocaryon on her, which was the “moment” I had been waiting for to move her from the 20 long into her 10 gallon “recuperation” tank with a Red Bubble Tip Anemone that I got from Jim Grassinger. So, I did an abbreviated quick drip acclimation and moved her in. I called it a night.

This morning, well, it’s been chaotic around here. We were supposed to close on a new home on Friday and move this weekend. The seller screwed things up, so closing on Friday didn’t happen. I’ve been working all weekend in the hopes that I could trade the weekend workdays for days off next week (overall, I work for a very understanding and easy going guy who “gets it”. I cannot tell you how lucky and appreciative I am for that). Well, today my wonderful inlaws came over and helped move most everything into 3 trucks and a 17′ UHaul. The fish will all get moved later this week.

I say all this, because it explains why I’ve not been paying closer attention to things. I.e. not noticing that the Kanamycin, which should’ve been here Thursday, was still not here by Saturday. I know the Maracyn SW had not been working for the female’s eye troubles, but I’ve been stuck without any good options to treat it with up here in Duluth. There are NO pet stores open on Sunday in the Duluth region that carry ANY medications. In fact, there’s really only one pet store in the area that does, and they didn’t have Kanamycin. Yes, there are potentially other medications I could try in the interim, so it is my fault for waiting for the Kanamycin to arrive and not having a plan B already in place.

Well, after ignoring my fish most of the day, I went down to check in on the female. It appears to me that her right eye has now ruptured. There’s no coming back from that…this fish will be blind in that eye if that eye even remains. This is a great disappointment, ESPECIALLY because circumstances out of my control have now prevented me from giving her a treatment that could have prevented this. I must admit it, I’m a snob when it comes to broodstock. I want them to be pristine. Not missing an eye.

Of course, really at this point all I can do is hope that the move to a different, well established tank, and the anemone, can help the fish fight off whatever infection has been setting in. If the Kanamycin shows up, I’ll be ready to dose it for sure, and maybe it’ll help. But, it may not. And this fish could end up losing the left eye too.

If the left eye goes, there’s really no use for the fish. We could talk about the ethical and moral merits of continuing to try to keep the fish going, but I’ll say it now, it’ll be time to discuss euthanasia options for this fish. A fish that’s totally blind will have an incredibly hard time living, let alone mating with anything. In the wild, this fish would’ve been dead weeks ago already.

She’s been a fighter. If she can pull through and keep the left eye good I’ll certainly keep her around. The loss of the right eye is admittedly a setback, a really disappointing blow. I did take some pictures for all of you to look at her in her new home this evening.

So, plans have been in motion.  So many plans that in fact I’m not sure I laid them all out!

The most pressing issue remains the female PNG Maroon and her never-ending health battle.  Today, Monday, she’s decided to swim around more, to possibly eat better, but also to develop cloudiness in both eyes now.

My plan for the female started maybe a few days ago, and Boomer reminded me a bit of something I was already working on, and that is moving the female out of the main 20 gallon tank.  I’m honestly getting the vibe that the 20 long may be causing as much harm as good.  Boomer specifically expressed concerns about even the slightest elevated ammonia levels.  For me, it’s more about going back to some of those earlier comments that talked about the notion / concept / theory that wild caught clownfish are best served by being placed directly into host anemones.

Well, I picked up a large RBTA (Red Bubble Tip Anemone) from Jim Grassinger (www.TheFilterGuys.com).  I cleared out the 10 gallon that was being used to rear Black Ocellaris babies (at one point 150+) and gave it some serious water changes.  It’s lit with twin tube HO T5′s, so there’s arguably sufficient lighting for the nem and then some.  This tank will be the destination, the “recovery spa” if you will, for the female PNG Maroon clownfish.   Of course, provided she makes it this far.

RBTA and Caulerpa

Possible future recovery room for the female PNG Maroon Clowfish.

And for the female, yesterday I removed some of the live rock to aid in my daily cleanup of uneaten food.  It could help her with foraging for food as well, but I’ve yet to see her actually eat anything off the bottom.  Today she got a water change, but this time, makeup water was at full strength.  She was again dosed with Maracyn SW this evening.  Fin rot has definitely stopped, but as I mentioned at opening, we now have cloudy eyes on both sides.  The female also looks fat, which is alarming to me, because I don’t think she’s eating enough to account for the “robust” look to her belly.  More likely, internal bacterial problems, which means this fish isn’t going to make it to the “spa”.   Take a look for yourself…what do YOU think?

Female Maroon as of 4-19-2010

Same date and time, just the other side...

But let’s not forget the “male”, the Lightning Maroon.  First off, let me say that the great sex debate has been rekindled anew.  I for one am still convinced that the fish is male, but I AM aware of the potential serious side effects this could have for the Lighting Maroon if I’m wrong.  For those who missed it, I have separated the Lightning Maroon Clownfish from his PNG Female over health concerns.  He currently resides in his bachelor(ette) pad in my “SPS” tank.

Lightning Maroon Clownfish in a breeder net

The Lightning Maroon Clownfish in his "breeder net" bachelor pad, with 3 bubble tip anemones.

I had mused last time about keeping the “social pressure” on this fish to keep it male.  I honestly believe that having the PNG female in the same tank, even with the divider, was sufficient.   Well, I never got around to printing out a picture of a large Maroon Clownfish to stick outside the basket.  Instead, this evening I obtained a truly massive Maroon Clownfish, who we’ll call the Labrador Clown, courtesy of Frank  & Mary.  Frank genuinely does not know how long he’s had this fish, but it’s measured in years.  Frank got it when he bought up a used 75 gallon tank, so you know this fish has been around the block and then some.

The plan is simple.  House this “clean”, well established Maroon Clown in the same tank as the Lightning Clownfish to maintain that social pressure.  Under no uncertain terms, I will not be allowing them to “play”, even if somehow the Lightning Maroon gets out of the net, past 2 layers of netting, and into the tank with this big clownfish.

But first, the reality is that the tank already houses clownfish…a pair of Red Saddleback, aka. Fire Clownfish, Amphiprion ephippium.

Amphiprion ephippium

The Male Sumatran Fire Clownfish

Now, these clowns have been in this tank for months and I know they’re a pair.  But they’re never together and never spawning.  Why?  Because for some reason, the Pymgy Anglefish Male (Centropyge argi) HATES the smaller Fire Clown and keeps him pinned in the upper back left corner (as you can see in the picture above).

Well, I got them both out, and they went into the tank that used to house my Latezonatus clownfish!  Again, just a reminder, I KNOW these Fire Clowns are a pair despite never seeing any of the “pair bonding” activity, and in fact the “pair” generally inhabiting opposite sides of the SPS tank.  Well, this move is probably a good thing for the Fire Clowns and my efforts with them.  Donchathink?

Fire Clownfish in a new, quieter home.

The Fire clowns are in fact behaving as if they’re finally a pair, and finally have a place to call their own.  And that freed me up for the last bit of shuffling fish for the evening.  Drip acclimating Frank & Mary’s Labrador Maroon (they call it the Labrador because it’s big and greedy at feeding time, akin to a Chocolate Labrador they own)

The Labrador Maroon Clownfish in the bucket!

I won’t go into great detail about Frank’s fishing excursion to catch this Maroon…I’ll simply reiterate that a) I own Frank a baby from the Lightning Maroon if I ever get any, and b) again, thank you Frank.  Again, the plan for this fish is to simply swim around the Lightnig Maroon’s breeder net and look intimidating…not much else.  If I really needed to, I could try pairing them, but to pair the PNG Lightning Maroon Clownfish with a “generic” White Striped Maroon wouldn’t be the best mate, and wouldn’t be in accordance with the project objectives I laid out.

One final note…check out those dark gray bars on the Labrador Clown.   I wonder if this dark-dark-dark coloration will hold.  We’ll see…

So honestly, having been cut off from the newbie crack trapthat is Reef Central by the dealer itself years ago, I’m at times unfamiliar with all the personalities associated with it.  RC, with it’s huge marketshare in the “online reef community” department, is one of those places where folks at times make a name for themselves (whether inadvertently or intentionally).  There are many talented people out there who I simply do not know because I no longer spend one iota of time on Reef Central.

One such “RC” personality that I had zero familiarity with before this week is Boomer.  Boomer happens to be a local, and it turns out we share many of the same acquaintances.  Anyone who can share a humorous anecdote about himself, Christine Williams, and a MACNA, well, if you’re willing to admit how close you came to making a fool out of yourself and to laugh about it later, you’re good in my book.

At any rate, Jim Grassinger (The Filter Guys, another local here in Duluth MN) knew Boomer was back in town, and when he saw things going south with the female PNG Maroon, suggested that Boomer have a look (per Jim, Boomer is, hands down, our area’s expert on marine fish disease, although I think Boomer’s more widely known as an expert on the topic of chemistry in general).  To make a long story short, I got on the phone with Boomer on Friday and I think we had to “feel each other out”.  Boomer had only skimmed the blog (reading the whole thing is probably already a monumental task) and had picked up on my musings, confusing some of my “thoughts” as being actual actions I had taken along the way.  Once we had cleared up what I had and had not done, things were much easier to talk about.

Well finally this afternoon, Boomer got to make a house call after our club (LSMAC.org) meeting.  And here’s where I get to actually talking about the status of the Lighting Maroon project.  Boomer of course was insistent on catching a good glimpse of the Lighting Maroon…a tiny finger poke was all it took to get him out of the RBTA to show off.  Let’s just say Boomer approved and after a close visual inspection, signed off on the fish being in perfect condition.  From MY standpoint, the fish is not yet “perfect”.  I would argue that the Lighting Maroon is taking too much time buried in the Red Bubble Tip Anemone, not willing to dart out to grab food as it drifts to the bottom of the net.  Overall, I want a more aggressive, settled in fish.  Health wise, appears perfect.  Deportment wise, a bit too timid for my tastes at this time.  Clearly not 100% happy with his new, confined home, but I think taking some solace in having 3 anemones.

After that, Boomer got down and gave the female PNG Maroon a good close look.  I’m paraphrasing of course, but again, here’s the jist.  Boomer expected to see a Maroon Clownfish suffering from Brooklynella, with mucus and skin sloughing off.  Boomer remarked on the cloudy right eye, which my friends is a NEW development today…was not there yesterday and something I had noticed this morning.  The cloudy eye lends further credence to my concerns about visual impairment, and in fact, it would seem that the Maroon only “strikes food” it can see with its left eye, but only at the last second.  Blindness, whether full or partial, is a legitimate concern at this point.

Boomer’s prognosis was perhaps more optimistic than my own.  Even though the female barely ate anything today, he felt the fish was on the path to recovery yet again, and WOULD recover if I stayed the course of treatment I’m on now.

Me, I’m not so sure.  While Boomer may be right about “recovery”, it could still be that I wind up with a battle weary, half blind Maroon Clown that is past its prime.  This fish may not have enough left to make a good candidate for broodstock.  I’m not writing this fish off at this point, but I am continuing to ask Mark Martin to plan on setting aside a couple more PNG Maroons to ship in a few week’s time.

Which brings me to the last closing thoughts for the time being.  Specifically, concerns about trying to pair up another PNG Maroon.  First Joe Lichtenbert, and then John Witt, both emailed to suggest that I find an Aquacultured Maroon Clown female to pair with this fish.  And I’m not writing off that suggestion.  The reality is that leaving the fish in solitude raises concerns about it turning female.  That concern might be unfounded based on the premise that reproductively speaking, it is better to remain a male if you are single.  That way, you are better positioned to accept and mate with whatever fish mother nature throws your way in the wild.  That makes a good theory, but I can’t say if it’s actually what would happen.  It’s like saying a female Anthias or Wrasse won’t turn male unless a female is present.  I don’t know that to be true or false, but I wouldn’t risk it.

Nevertheless, pairing with an Aquacultured Female would present the following considerations.  It’s NOT a PNG Maroon, and that goes against one of my personal project goals (which is maintaining a PNG bloodline).  Breeders are quick to point out that THIS is in fact a temporary setback, and would not be a total failure, and they’re right.  There are upsides.  The upsides include not risking disease exposure, at least not at the level another WC clownfish might present if paired prematurely (rest assured, any WC Maroon would go through the same QT period as these guys already did, if not more so).  The other upside is that providing a female Maroon would enforce another objective, which is to keep the fish MALE.  And in this, perhaps it’s a trump card over the other concerns.  Is it more important at this point to keep the PNG Bloodlines intact, or to keep the Lightning Maroon a male?

Arguably, I would say it’s more important to keep the fish a male.  I haven’t quite figured out how this would work, but I THINK I know where I can get a well established Maroon Clown, a large one.  I’d have to move my fire clowns out of the tank, and give the female Maroon free reign of the SPS tank, and I would probably leave the male in the net.  I *think* I could pull this off, and as an insurance measure this might be a wise plan.

The other, somewhat more “outlandish” idea, is to print out a picture of a female Maroon, simply a LARGE SIZED image really, and stick it right outside the breeder net on the glass.  I will probably do this ASAP.  While it lacks the direct phyisical contact, it may in fact be just enough psychological pressure to keep the Lightning Maroon “male” until a real female can be thrown into the mix again.

Finally, before I forget, I do need to mention that while late today, the female’s tank was given another 5 gallon water change and a late treatment with Maracyn SW.  There are a few more days of treatment expected.  I am still strongly considering a “plan b” for her as well.

Insanely Busy Day.  Lightning in Bubble Tip Anemones all day.  Maybe eating?  Hard to observe in net.  Female, water change in AM, dosed with Maracyn SW.  Looks “fat”.  More active.  Might not be eating.  Mixed messages.  Not enough time to monitor as I’d like.  Harumph!

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