The Lightning Project

The ongoing saga of the PNG Lightning Maroon Clownfish Breeding Project

Browsing Posts tagged Chad Vossen

As near as I can tell, a lot of eggs likely hatched from the PNG White Stripe Maroon Clownfish pair’s 2nd spawn.  There are probably less than 50 eggs left.  Of course, this was a tiny nest to start with (compared to other Maroon nests) so I opted to just leave the few remaining eggs to fend for themselves tonight.  Last night would’ve been the “6th night” by my count, with tonight being the 7th night post spawn for these eggs.  I am hoping for a larger spawn and one that comes soon!

It’s just after 2 AM on May 6th, 2014, and I’ve prepared everything for an in-tank hatch with the Vossen Larval Snagger tonight.  By my count, this is the 6th night post hatch, the nest looks full and ready to go.  I took my own advice and set up the system’s pumps on a timer.  All water pumps shut off at 2 AM, and will turn on around 4 AM.  If this works well, I can simply move the 3-plug outlet (which runs internal filter, skimmer and internal UV) onto another outlet on the main power strip when not in use, but on hatch nights where I want to snag, I can just plug it into the timer (thus never having to reset the timer).

If I’m up still in an hour or so I’ll check the snagger to see what I caught so far…

Also ,the few larvae I snagged from Spawn #30 are going through settlement at this time; they have only been offered rotifers, no other feeds, with RotiGreen Omega for greenwater.  A  few have headstripes, and the rest should be getting near.

I decided to try something different this time…I’d been putting it off but figured “might as well”.  I decided to try snagging a hatch with the Vossen Aquatics Larval Snagger (aka. Larval Trap).

Thursday night, the 24th, was officially the 6th night post spawn and assuredly I’d get a hatch.  I reconfigured the broodstock tank slightly to allow me to pull all the cords for water current devices in one shot.  I thought about simply using a light timer to turn pumps off before lights out, and then on two hours later, but with the Lightning Maroons, I wasn’t going to risk it. I’d rather stay up late and BE SURE I got everything back up and running.

I set up the larval snagger in the broodstock tank and was sure to get the placement correct – the top of the snagger must reside above the water’s surface, as shown here.

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After that, I made sure to get the air flowing, which runs water through the trap gently, without harming the larvae.

 

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Then, set up the suction cup light, which serves to attract the larvae to the intake of the trap.  Turn off all the lights in the room, and walk away for a couple hours…

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I checked around 4:30 AM and saw that I had snagged a few larvae, but not many.  The nest still looked rather full, and I scanned the tank for wayward larvae, using my cell phone’s flashlight feature.  I didn’t see any, so this was a very weak / small hatch.  It wasn’t enough to really try rearing, so I just figured I’d leave them in the trap and take some photos come morning.  This is what I found when I checked.

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It didn’t seem like nearly enough to bother a run with, so I left the snagger running all day and figured I’d simply try again on Friday night.

Unfortuantely, I might have screwed up on Friday night.  I can’t be sure, but here’s what happened.  The nest looked full most of the day, but I had shifted the light timing just a little bit.  So the lights on the system went off at 2 AM vs. 2:30 AM, but I didn’t make it down into the basement to turn off the filtration until 2:30.  The nest appeared to have hatched significantly before I had a chance to set things up.

I checked at 4:30 AM, and sadly I found one wayward larvae in the tank, and it appeared that the trap had maybe only captured a few more.  Did I “miss” the hatch window Friday night?  Possibly.  I set up the larvae I had captured in a clean BRT with 8 gallons of broodstock water, rotifers, and some RotiGreen Omega, and that was it.  I was gone Saturday night, so wasn’t able to see if I’d get any more on the 8th night.

Overall, based on the number of larvae caught vs. the number of larvae found in the tank, it’s fair to say that the snagger probably did perform well.  I’ll probably try it again on batch 31, and maybe this next time I’ll TEST a timer and trust it to do my bidding.  Maybe a little more automation will allow me to “score big” on a hatch in the broodstock tank, avoiding some of the problems I’ve encountered when artificially hatching.

Pairing remains at a standstill for the Lightning Maroon, in large part given my desire to sit in front of the tank for an extended period and keep a watchful eye over the interactions so I can intervene if need be.

Meanwhile, I’ve been digging through my circle of fish friends and trying to see what other tricks are out there that we hadn’t yet tried.  Sanjay Joshi suggested something that had worked with his Gold Stripe Maroons.  To summarize, he provided two possible males to a female, and let the female choose the mate she preferred.  Of course, this makes sense..it’s tough for the female to fend off both suitors, so instead, she teams up with one to drive the other away.

My main concern over trying this is that a) you don’t control which fish she chooses and b) you risk both fish.  Since more PNG Maroon Males/Juveniles are not available, I have to be cautious and protective of both of them.  But Sanjay’s recommendation reminded me of a very similar technique described to me by Chicago-area clownfish breeder Mitch May, better known as Booyah on most reef forums.  Mitch’s technique works on the same basic principal of encouraging the natural behavior of teamwork in a pair to drive away third party interlopers.  It’s also a bit safer perhaps, and I’m happy to share this concept with Mitch’s permission.

In a nutshell, the application is to take a “Female” and the desired “Male” and place them together with a few additional fish.  Per Mitch’s instructions, he’ll take one additional fish that is 50% of the size of the desired male (who is the second biggest of all the fish after the females).  Then, we’ll also add 2 more clownfish juveniles, these at 25% of the size of the desired male.  So it works out like this – 3″ female, 2″ male, 1″ juveniles and 2 0.5″ juveniles.  This actually mimics the natural social structure of many clownfish species, although in most cases this unit can’t be easily replicated in captivity.  Generally speaking, attempts like this usually end up with lots of aggression directed at the smaller fish, and even death as a possibility.  However, when trying to drive the top two fish together, the presence of the other three juveniles focuses their aggression away from each other, and instead towards the juvenile intruders.

It may sound cruel, but the best fish to use are those that would be culled.  Since they are never going to be sold, and since humane euthanasia or becoming food for a Lionfish are the most likely results of their existence, their sad lives might actually at least have a redeeming purpose.  If they are killed in the process, while the path to their death was likely more violent, the outcome was ultimately the same.  Of course, I’m not condoning that this simply be a commonplace practice, or that you don’t intervene should the aggression become more violent than just the normal social threats and displays.

So to that end, and knowing I have dozens of culled Perculas sitting in tanks that I simply haven’t put down, I’m going to try this technique out.  I’ll first do it with the two White Stripe pairings downstairs that aren’t working out.  If it works there, then it will get applied to the Lightning Maroon and her would-be mate.

The other technique is one to encourage spawning.  Two breeders have definite experience with this technique.  Mitch May calls it “doubling down”, based on the gambling concept of taking “one good hand and turning it into two good hands”.  Chad Vossen of St. Cloud, MN, calls it the less glitzy, but more straightforward “egg fostering”.  In either case, the premise is the same.  For a pair that is going through the motions but never producing, a clutch of eggs is taken from a spawning pair and placed with the non-spawning pair.  The presence of the eggs kicks in the male’s nest tending instincts and seems to also kick the female into egg production mode.  While I won’t be using this technique just yet, it may come in hand down the line if the Lighting is paired but not moving towards spawning.

Hopefully I’ll get the test pairings restarted downstairs tonight…videos will be shot of course!

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