The Lightning Project

The ongoing saga of the PNG Lightning Maroon Clownfish Breeding Project

Browsing Posts tagged F1

I finally go to shot some photos last week (October 14th), and among them are updates of the holdback pair.  I’ve also updated the “Lightning Maroon Pattern Progression” post to show how it continues to evolve. Here’s the latest:

The forced size differentiation of my holdback Lightning pair continues and is going well…my chosen female is growing larger and larger.  It’s “only a matter of time”.


F1 PNG White Stripe Maroon Clownfish, WS12

WS12 – does this fish carry critical Lightning genetics, or is it just a plain white stripe Maroon?  We simply don’t know!

More than any other question I’ve received in the past year, is one that once again, came up in a private communication from Carl W. Phillips Jr. tonight.  He asked,  “Mr Pedeersen whats you opinion of what the stripe maroon will throw some lightning ??”

My response: “I’ve written about this rather extensively on and elsewhere. My gut feeling is that they are not carrying any special genetics; their value is in maintaining the PNG provenance, as well as the unknown results of Lightning X Lightning…what if that cross is fatal? I think the results of the parental cross do suggest a genetic inheritance, and it’s reasonable to assume that the mating of the Lightning Phenotype to the regular White Stripe Phenotype ought to result in the same phenotype spread in the F2 generation. Here’s some details for you to review ->

Obviously, we still do not have answers to the genetic questions surrounding the Lightning Maroon…so far all we can say, based on observations, is that the pattern seems heritable (of the 2 very small that hatched and survived in the spring 2013, one was White Stripe, one was Lightning).  However, the 50/50 spread in the F1 generation is a possible phenotpye ratio for all three common forms of genetic expression.  It could be that the white stripe siblings, with their slightly scalloped edges on their stripes and increased horns and spots might be representative of a very subtle “singe dose” form of a partially dominant lightning gene.  Then again, it’s just as possible that very subtle patterning is irrelevant / separate from Lightning altogether.  And that could mean that they could carry a hidden single-dose recessive lightning gene, or, in my opinion, they might simply not carry any lightning genetic material themselves.  As I relayed to Carl, it’s best to review the full rundown of the Genetic Possibilities behind the Lightning Maroon Clownfish – in drawing on what we know from other fish and other clownfish specifically, I put less than a 1/3 chance that Lightning is recessive, which means I also think there is less than 1/3 chance that the regularly patterned offspring carry a hidden lighting gene.

So to purchase a white striped sibling on the speculation that two of them mated together will produce lightnings is just that – speculation.  Then again, if Lightning was revealed to be the result of 2 recessive alleles, or if “Lightning” is the double dose of a partially dominant allele, then these white stripe siblings would be very important to the creation of MORE Lightnings.

In the end, it’s fair to say that we absolutely do not know, and therefore couldn’t make any promises of any kind regarding the genetics.  It will take many more crosses with different pairings, and counting of all the offspring that result, to help determine with some certainty exactly how the Lightning gene works.  I’m going to guess that it will take another 3-4 years before we have that answer.

- Followup – not even 12 hours later, I’ve answered this exact question at least a half dozen more times today, and seen at least one internet post from someone who stated that the Lightning trait is “recessive” (which while possible, is in my opinion highly unlikely and absolutely something we cannot know at this point…the data we have doesn’t exclude or point to any one option).

With all the stuff going on, I realized it’s been months since I showed the pair of Lightnings that I saved for myself.

I also wanted to update the “Lightning Maroon Clownfish Pattern Progression & Development” post, as there is obviously still a fair amount of justifiable skepticism as to whether these offspring will ever wind up looking like their mom.

At this point the fish are just under 1 year old. Here’s a quick look.

And no, these ones aren’t for sale.

Finally, some risk is diversified again.  The second of 3 locally-planned backup pairs is out of the house, this time going to Frank (who you may remember contributed the massive “Labrador” Maroon Clown to this project way back in the day).  Frank is an aquarist who’s in it for the long haul, so you know this pair of clowns is in GOOD hands.

The pair I sent home with Frank has lived together for months now…obviously far too young to be an actual pair, but the point is that they shared an 8 X 8 X 8 inch cubicle without killing each other.  The Lightning in the pair really is a nice fish, but the standard striped sibling is a pretty horrendous example and were it NOT for the fact that it’s progeny of the Lightning Maroon, would have long since been culled.  Still, it shows some of the classic “Horned Maroon Clownfish” patterning seen in the occasional aberrant wild Maroon Clowns from PNG .  Of course, it’s hard to know how many of the physical disappointments I’m seeing are the result of either fighting or general rearing mishaps, but I suspect THAT over genetic issues at this point in time.  I took the last few minutes before bagging them up to snap a handful of good shots.

Yes, here it is, has been too long.  With each passing day I am evermore convinced that my hypothesis about the Lightning pattern development is correct. The “lightning maroon clownfish pattern development” photo series post has been updated as well. This is what the Lightnings are looking like now.

This is the pair I’m holding onto to make a “Lightning” X “Lightning” pairing ;)  Time to start feeding the one on the right twice as often as the one on the left so that 6 months from now, the one on the right is twice as big!

The left fish; future male.

The right fish; future female.

The most interesting thing I’ve noticed is that I’ve made no difference in care other than temperature and lighting; the large group in growout has been at warmer temps and has grown significantly larger and faster.  However, under only ambient lighting and in a group setting, they’ve not developed the intensity of color that these isolated specimens have.  I’m bringing on the lights to get these fish ready for sale!


Lightning Maroon Clownfish - Copyright Matt Pedersen 2012Last Wednesday, December 5th, I was surprised and saddened to find a few dead Lightning Maroons in the larviculture system.  The mortalities were restricted specifically to the large aggregate group.  Many of you may be aware that Maroon clownfish are notoriously nasty to each other, so much so that some breeders have said that in white strip variants (which would include our Lightning Maroons) they can rear hundreds of fish and find only FIVE that are sellable. I had been planning for months now to segregate all the fish into individual containers, but each time I look at the fish, they seem happy, and the damage to their fins is less and less noticable.  In other words, up until December 5th, the fish themselves had given me no reason to separate them!

Well, the losses could have been from aggression, or they could have been from too many fish being in the same amount of space.   Perhaps the flow of water into their tank had been disrupted for a time.  Ultimately, I’m simply not sure what caused the losses.  One of the most interesting things I’ve noticed about the Lightning Maroons growing out is that the ones kept together have grown FASTER than the fish I separated out into individual containers.  The ones kept together are also more bold and outgoing.

Since I have a massive 200 gallon+ growout system here, designed specifically to grow fish out, I opted to MOVE all the Lightning Maroon offspring together into a 33 gallon breeder on the system.  I took this opportunity to do a headcount – of course now I cannot remember, but I think within the group, I counted around 48 fish (keep in mind I’ve given away 2 so far, and I fond out I missed 3 in the bucket, plus I have 14 in the cube runs, and I lost at least 3 + I had one jump along the way).  So my guestimate of 60-70 fish may have been very close.

At this point, the fish are getting “big”.  I had hoped to be selling some at this point, but we simply haven’t gotten there yet and holiday shipping traffic means that it is exceptionally risky to ship fish this time of year.  Better to wait.  So at this point, we probably won’t be selling any of these until after the first of the year.  Honestly, I’d LOVE to send them out sooner, but it’s just not in the cards!

In the meantime, you can enjoy some new photos!

First, some shots of my favorite and a bonus shot of one of the “runty” ones.

Lightning Maroon Clownfish - Copyright Matt Pedersen 2012

Lightning Maroon Clownfish - Copyright Matt Pedersen 2012

Lightning Maroon Clownfish - Copyright Matt Pedersen 2012

Lightning Maroon Clownfish - Copyright Matt Pedersen 2012

I’ve also gone back and updated the “month by month” progression post showing the pattern development on my favorite one.

And finally, some shots of the group of juveniles in the growout system…it has a bit of a cloudy water issue, which is odd because it has a massive skimmer and a sock filter…I’m thinking it’s biopellet related and make take it offline to see if that remedies the situation. If not, water changes are in the forecast!

Lightning Maroon Clownfish - Copyright Matt Pedersen 2012

Lightning Maroon Clownfish - Copyright Matt Pedersen 2012

Lightning Maroon Clownfish - Copyright Matt Pedersen 2012

Lightning Maroon Clownfish - Copyright Matt Pedersen 2012

Craig’s comments today got me thinking – I should show the progression of the pattern developing.  So this is for you Craig!  These are all the same fish; this is one I’ve decided to keep for myself…looks like it lost a ventral fin in early fights but is otherwise a really nice fish (take note, you can see how the damaged ventral fin has regrown / regenerated…looks like the other atrophied).  I’ll keep showing this fish in future progressions most likely.

August 8th, 2012

September 13th, 2012

October 23rd, 2012

November 13th, 2012

December 13th, 2012

February 22nd, 2013

March 23rd, 2013

June 18th, 2013

July 31st, 2013

Lightning Maroon Clownfish, F1, over a year old, photographed July 31st, 2013

Now over a year old, the pattern is still developing on all these clownfish!

August 28th, 2013

October 14th, 2013

December 13th, 2013

June 15th, 2014


*NEW* November 3rd, 2015




Update – 6/23/2013 – I talk about this frequently, but I realized I should add this commentary here, on the pattern progress post.  Here’s my theory on what you’re seeing:

1 – “Lightning” Babies are very obvious compared to their white stripe siblings.  They show up with tremendously thicker bars.

2 – For a certain period of time, as they grow, the white overbarring spreads and takes shape.

3 – Meanwhile, subtractive pattern development also starts occuring.  You see it in the white areas first as pinholes and dots.

4 – As the fish grows, the areas of “white loss” continue to emerge, and to spread.  What was once solid areas of white start to break up, with white scales giving way to red patterning inbetween.

5 – As the fish continues to grow and age, the red areas become ever more pronounced.

6 – It is my speculation that the “white loss” pattern development continues over the course of at least 2-3 years, but perhaps even longer.  The original Lightning Maroon today seems to have less white than it did when it arrived 3 years prior.  I suspect that the timeline from a captive-bred Lightning Maroon clown going from hatched to what we might consider a “true” Lightning Maroon..that is a fish showing the balance of white and red comparable to the original foundation fish, is going to take at least 2-3 years.

Considering that I’ve personally documented coloration development in Percula going up to 3 years out, this is completely not unheard of, but nothing to the extent of what the Lightning Maroons seem to present.  I look at these fish and they way they are “patterning up” and I am floored – I never could have guessed that THIS is the mechanism by which the Lightning Pattern would be “created” on the fish.  At this point it definitely takes vision to have complete buy-in to my hypothesis, but I’m thoroughly convinced I’m right.  Which means that in the long run, hobbyists might buy a fish like the one from October, 2012 show above…and 2 years later have something completely different from that…and looking a lot more like the “Lightning”.  How freakin’ cool is that – a fish that truly only gets better with age?!

Lots of Lightning


Updates coming soon on how you can have your shot at owning a Lightning Maroon Clownfish of your own, but for the moment, how about some photos fresh from the fishroom?

More photos, these from 7-27-2012:

Lightning Maroon Clownfish F1 Offspring

Lightning Maroon Clownfish F1 Offspring

Lightning Maroon Clownfish F1 Offspring

Lightning Maroon Clownfish F1 Offspring

Lightning Maroon Clownfish F1 Offspring

Lightning Maroon Clownfish F1 Offspring

Lightning Maroon Clownfish F1 Offspring

Lightning Maroon Clownfish F1 Offspring

Lightning Maroon Clownfish F1 Offspring

Lightning Maroon Clownfish F1 Offspring

Lightning Maroon Clownfish F1 Offspring

Lightning Maroon Clownfish F1 Offspring

Lightning Maroon Clownfish F1 Offspring

Lightning Maroon Clownfish F1 Offspring

Lightning Maroon Clownfish F1 Offspring

Lightning Maroon Clownfish F1 Offspring

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