The Lightning Project

The ongoing saga of the PNG Lightning Maroon Clownfish Breeding Project

Browsing Posts tagged F1 Lightning Maroon Pair

Until April, I’m not starting any new rearing projects, so I’ve just been watching eggs for time.  The Lightning X Lightning pairs eggs were viable and went full term.  Hatch timing is interesting however. By Saturday, March 14th, the Nebulas (which are A. percula) had hatched out (spawned on the 5th); meanwhile the Lightning’s eggs were still present and eyed up even though they had spawned a day later.  This seems odds, as the hatch timings seem flipped from the norm. The eggs from Lighting X Lightning Spawn #7  were gone only on Sunday morning, March 15th. Being spawned in the 6th, this seems long; 9 days?  The parents are typically 6.

It’ll be interesting to see what happens on their next spawn.

Last week was a flurry of clownfish sex.  March 4th, at 7 AM, I got a text image of the Lightning Maroon clownfish pair on display at the Great Lakes Aquarium; a small next was on the tank wall (I’m guessing laid on March 3rd?). This wasn’t the first spawn out of the pair; another had been seen, and evidence of prior spawns was also observable when the first spawn was discovered.

Mike Doty’s pair ALSO spawned; he shot me a text just a few hours later (10:30 AM) on March 4th as well.  I’m guessing they too spawned on the 3rd.  On the evening of March 5th, I found that the Nebula percula pair in my basement had spawned, and Friday, March 6th, the recently reunited Lightning X Lightning pair had thrown down their first nest as well; it’s a tiny nest, but it is viable.

It’s interesting how much of this breeding activity centered around the full moon.

First, a bit of mythbusting – someone, somewhere, started some rumor that I had lost one or both of my lightning maroon clownfish pairs.  I heard about this from multiple people in early February, but never could pin down the source. Simply put, nothing could be further from the truth.  That said, there hasn’t been any production as of late…here’s why:

So nothing has been going on with the original Wild Lightning X White Stripe pair…they’re just sitting in their tank, not breeding.  I’m trying to figure out why, and here’s what I can come up with. First, when I put all the fish in the fishroom on a prophylactic course of Spectrum’s Ick-Sheild pellet, a Chloroquin-laced food, it shut down ALL my breeding pairs.  That said, most of my breeder pairs have returned to breeding…except the Lightning pair.  They had a few bad clutches and then just stopped.

Next, I had run out of their normal staple diet, Spectrum Thera-A.  So the fish were switched over primarily to feeds like Ocean Nutrition’s Formula One and Formula Two pellet as the daily staple.  Could a dietary switch account for failing spawns?  Perhaps.

Additionally, I noted tank temperatures were slightly down.  Instead of running around 80-82F, they look more like the 78F range lately.  I’m not exactly sure why this is, as I haven’t changed my room temperature nor have I adjusted their heater in any way.  Unless…unless their heater has failed and the tank is now just going down closer to the fishroom ambient temp.  I’ll have to investigate this.

Finally though, I noticed that my lights are coming on very late in the day; so I think my photoperiod is messed up and might be shorter on the tank. In fact, that seems like a logical explanation; we’re in winter, so ambient light cycles are reduced, and the length of day may be reduced as well.  In short, I may have to restore a longer photoperiod, restore warmer temps, ramp up foods and feedings, and hopefully see the pair return to active spawning.  But perhaps it’s good to give the fish a “winter break”…constant spawning certainly must take a toll on our marine fishes.

On the other front, the Lightning X Lightning pair hasn’t been spawning either, but I know why.  As readers may recall, I separated them on January 5th as the pair bond had deteriorated.  I chose to separate the female, isolating her in a breeder box from Florida Aqua Farms.  She remained in isolation for a solid 6+ weeks while the male recovered from his injuries.  Yesterday, 2-18-2015, I added her back into the main tank and watched.  At first, the male attacked her…she took it for about 1 minute, then grabbed the male by the pectoral fin, flipped him upside down, and simply held on while he struggled.  I thought for sure this was the end, but a little while later the pair was found cohabitating peacefully. 24 hours later, the pair remains in good shape, not a nick or scrape or torn fin on either fish.  This is not the first time that a “female time out” has proven to be a helpful factor in curbing excessive female aggression in my maroon clownfish pairing and breeding. I’d encourage people to keep this trick in mind with their own fishes.

Spawn #47 didn’t go anywhere and was gone after a few days. Spawn #48 was laid on 1/3/2014 by the wild Lightning X White Stripe Maroon Clownfish pair. It was a weak spawn, scattered, not a quality nest.  It certainly seems that putting the fish onto Ick Shield set them off their game.

Meanwhile, the Lightning X Lightning pair is just continuing to be in a funk. They’re not getting along, constantly bickering. This from a proven pair.  Today I found the male pretty beat up, and the female’s spiney dorsal fin is swollen and appears infected.  My plan is to at minimum segregate the pair, and possibly to move them into different quarters as well.

As promised, I finally got time to look at the offspring that Mike Doty had managed to rear from my F1 Lightning X Lighting Maroon Clownfish pair.  While Mike had initially stated he felt the split was 50/50, today’s visit showed something different.

All told, I only managed to count 3 white stripe offspring in the BRT. Meanwhile, there appeared to be 6 distinctive Lightning Maroon-type offspring. What I didn’t see were any fish that, at this point, looked atypical from either known phenotype.




With only 9 (approximate) juveniles, the sample is far from conclusive. The 3/6 split could be representative of anything from a 50/50 split to a 25/75 split. A new phenotype could be missing because none simply survived in this first successful run.

That said, the 3/6 split, if a valid sample, would represent something we perhaps don’t want to  see.  It would imply that Lightning is straight dominant, but it would also imply that a double-dose of Lightning is in fact fatal to the offspring and they fail to develop.  This is one of the current working hypotheses for the Snowflake gene in Ocellaris, and anecdotal reports continue to bolster that line of thinking (reports are anecdotal in so much as a breeder saying “It’s about a 60-70% snowflake result” is not the same as a breeder saying “I got 140 Snowflakes and 65 wild types in this clutch”).

It is fair to say that there is still hope for these fish – they are QUITE YOUNG and all we can truly discern at this point is that they outwardly either are white stripes or aberrant.  My tune could change as these babies develop, or if subsequent results are different. It is not surprising to me though, to see similarities emerge in various mutation types.  We already have Picasso/Platinum and the sister mutation of DaVinci/Wyoming White. Much as I wonder if these twin mutations could represent the same gene in different species (or simply a similar genetic mutation in sibling species), would we come to find out that Lightning is in fact not unlike Snowflake? After all, genetic analysis has revealed that the Maroon Clownfish are in fact very closely related to the Percula/Ocellaris complex, so it would not be surprising to find similar or the same genes present in all these species based on their common shared ancestor.

It is also an interesting footnote to observe that these tiny juvenile clownfishes DO represent a the first F2 generation of Lightning Maroons.

Here’s a quick rundown.

The 5th spawn of the F1 Lightning X Lightning Maroon Clownfish pairing was collected and hatched by Mike Doty while I was away.  In short, he scraped off the eggs, hatched them in a 1 gallon jar in a water bath with simple aeration, 75% clean new water.  Come November 28th, Mike relayed that settlement had started.  The moment we’ve been waiting for was here – is there something new?

Well, Mike’s first words were “About 90% sure we have some normal striped fish.”

This, of course, does the following:

  • likely rules out Lightning as a simple recessive gene. If it WAS recessive, then both parents would be “double dose” aka. homozygous, represented as l/l, which means that each parent could only contribute a recessive lightning gene, and thus, each offspring would also get one copy each, one from mom, one from dad, and thus, could only be l/l as well. For the moment, while another couple test matings will bolster the data, the fact that there are white-stripe offspring pretty much precludes this being a standard single allele, single locus, recessive trait.
  • does not rule out straight dominance. If it was straight dominance, and each parent is “single dose” aka. heterozygous, represented as L/+, then 25% of the offspring would not get a gene from either parent, and thus, 25% would be white stripe maroon clownfish.
  • nor does it rule out partial dominance. This of course, would work the same way as dominance, except that 25% of the offspring would get a lightning gene from EACH parent, and would be homozygous for Lightning, represented as L/L. This is the scenario that most people are hoping for, because with the new homozygous state, there comes the potential for a new phenotype that could be different from the Lightning that we know.

As of today, 12-8-2014, I spoke with Mike briefly and have to relay this news – while he doesn’t have many babies left, he believes that the phenotype split is roughly 50/50.  That is to say, half white stripes, half lightnings.  So far, he also has not seen anything unique or new in this F2 generation.  I have yet to see the babies for myself, and have yet to take pictures or do a headcount, but these cursory, informal results, mirror another clownfish mutation that seems to not fit the mold as we’d expect – SNOWFLAKE in Ocellaris.  It’s my hope to get over to Mike’s today yet to see for myself.

In other news, the 6th spawn of the F1 Lightning X Lightning pair was put down on 11/29/2014. It appears I finally won the battle of the tiles:

LxL Spawn #6

LxL Spawn #6

Meanwhile, I brought some new clownfish into the fishroom earlier in November (the 19th and 22nd) and was trying out the new Ick-Shield food from New Life Spectrum.  This is basically a Chloroquin-laced pellet food that is meant primarily to prevent disease such as Crytopcaryon, Amyloodium, Brooklynella etc…pretty much the things which are sensitive to the active ingredient. I decided to not simply feed this fish to the new arrivals, but also to feed it to one of my holding systems AND the wild Lightning Maroon and her mate as preventative medication, just in case.

Well, it turns out that there is an unfortunate side effect to this feed; it seems to shut down breeding activity.  All my routine pairs stopped spawning. The Lightning and her mate did finally put down a spawn on December 1st, 2014, #46.




Unfortunately, it appears as though the spawn was not fertilized…the eggs didn’t develop, and after 48 hours they were gone. A few days after that, I read, anecdotally, that Chloroquin can cause male sterility??? Not permanent according to the rumor, but certainly a potential setback. As far as the efficacy of the food, my jury is out. The larger fish which were feeding well on it by and large remained disease free, but not all did.  I still had a Brooklynella outbreak, although not in the fish I would have necessarily expected. Once that outbreak started, it then affected other fish as well despite their feeding on the pellets.  I’m also seeing either Cryptocaryon or Amyloodium on fish which were visually “clean” upon arrival, which were in dedicated QT systems, feeding on this food from day one.  So the question here is were they simply getting ENOUGH feed as they were small fish which cannot readily eat the small pellet size.

So of course, one is left with questions, not answers.  There is no way to say the food didn’t work, nor is there any way to prove that it does work. Absence of disease is not proof of prevention, that much I know for certain. Lack of a cure, or lack of prevention, which IS documented, only raises questions about why it didn’t work as suggested and certainly requires investigation (eg. would a smaller pellet size be better accepted…could these failures stem from simply lack of feeding, or lack of sufficient feeding, thus insufficient dose to the fish?).

Circling back to LxL Spawn #6, as the week progressed an interesting change in behavior occurred starting around December 4th, 5 days post spawn.  The larger female F1 Lightning became belligerent towards the male, and over the day drove him from nest tending duties.  December 5th, a Friday, would have been 6 days post spawn, and the night of the first hatching.  I was simply swamped with preparations for sending our dog to live with my brother, and failed to pull the tile.  By morning, Saturday, December 6th, 2014, it appeared that I had not missed much…most if not all the eggs were still there. The pair remained at odds.  We left for the weekend to ship our family dog, and upon Sunday, December 7th, there were still a few dozen eggs remaining, although they appeared potentially dead and disappeared throughout the day.  By nightfall, the pair was starting to be less antagonistic, but I am still keeping a close eye on them.  Hopefully, we’ll get another spawn soon – this was the only mature pair in the house that didn’t receive Chloroquin-laced foods (as they don’t reside in the fishroom with the rest of the fish).

So much going on and I’m NOT doing a proper job of tracking things.

I should start with the unrelated F0 PNG White Stripe Maroon Clownfish pair…they spawned sometime last week, possibly Wednesday the 12th. I didn’t make much of a fuss about documentation of it because I knew I couldn’t deal with them at any rate; I can’t remember if it was very late Sunday night, or more likely Monday afternoon, when I found the last few eggs just sitting around in the tank.  This pair, overall, is spawning quite infrequently.

The Lightning Maroon Spawn, #44, never made it to hatching.  Something happened, and the pair consumed the eggs.  Could the Lightning foundation pair be winding down or did they just have a bad spawn?  Their prior spawn produced a good amount of juveniles, which were undergoing settlement and on TDO A by last Thursday, which is when I drained them down to about a gallon, filled with clean new aged saltwater, and then turned them on to the larviculture system.

LxL spawn #4 was one I was going to let go because I wasn’t in town (I was off speaking at the Milwaukee Aquarium Society’s “Fish Bowl” event), but in short, Mike Doty decided to play with harvesting the eggs.  He took approximately 25% of the next out, using my little egg siphon, on Friday night (Nov. 14th).  I got a text while in Milwaukee…there was a hatch..and a big one.  Surprisingly, he simply did it in a 1 gallon olive jar with an air feed, sitting in a water bath with probably 75% new water.  If I had done that, every last egg would have been dead.  All credit where it’s due – Mike may well in fact rear Lightning X Lightning offspring before I do (they’re at HIS fishroom ;) )  Mike further relayed that this was a split hatch, with more eggs present Saturday the 15th, but all gone by 4 AM Sunday morning.

Yesterday, I caught wind that the F1 Lightning X Lightning pair was going to spawn again…the female was roving the tank with her ovipositor down.  I did my best to FURTHER add tile to their tank, blocking their prior spawning spot off..which caused them to move to another side of the tank’s back wall, which I then blocked off with tile. They were still going through the motions of finding a spawning site when I turned the lights off after Midnight; technically they spawned in the overnight on the wee-early morning of 11-18-2014, but if I was to be thinking about these eggs properly, then normally they’d be a 11-17 spawn.  Ultimately, they selected the ONLY section of black plastic background that I cannot get tile on (near the tank’s filter return).  Either the nest was small, or they ate most of it, and I am considering foregoing working with it.  I’m thinking that what this pair may really need is a clay pot…that might be the ticket here.  So LxL Spawn #5 has been put down, but for now, probably will be left alone.

So despite two nights of attempted hatching of harvested eggs, I ultimately only got ONE viable larvae out of LxL Spawn #3.  It is in a BRT all by itself.

On 11/7/2014 – the F1 Lightning X Lightning pair threw down another nest…and once again, not on a tile.  I won’t be in town to try trapping or harvesting this nest, so I’ll have to wait for the next spawn. Will update with some photos as I’m able.

It’s the 7th night for Spawn #43 which was spawned on 10-22; we’re on the night of 10-29 going into 10-30 now; there wasn’t any noticeable hatch on the tile over the 6th night (I left it with the parents yesterady)….it will get pulled.  This is what Spawn #43 looked like when it was laid fresh on 10-22…I should also point out this is the first time I’ve taken pictures of the F0 original wild pair of Lightning Maroon X White Stripe PNG Maroon Clownfish.






The larvae from spawn #42 that are still alive have largely settled out…it was a small group, but I’ll find a way to work with them.  More importantly, it looks like LM X LM Spawn #2 might be over…I have not found any larvae in the BRT, so one more look, I repurposed  it for Spawn #43.  The eggs got the usual dip in H2O2, but started hatching during it, so they were moved straight into the BRT with 8 gallons of broodstock water and a few ML of RotiGrow Plus (only thing I had thawed…it’ll be fine for the first 24 hours and by that point I’ll have RotiGreen Omega up and running).

The most frustrating news is arguably LM X LM Spawn #3. recap.  Here was the first spawn:

F1 (Lightning X Lightning) first spawn for the Lightning Maroon Clownfish


So…I took some proactive steps and tiled the back wall of the tank.

This was LM X LM (or LxL if you prefer) Spawn #2 on the first attempted hatch night:


Yeah..that gray patch on the side..those are the eggs…

So that didn’t turn out obviously…so I tiled the side wall as well.

Here is Spawn #3, laid on 10/27/2014:


The internet shorthand FML seems somehow appropriate. Clearly the pair is flipping me the middle fin.


So yeah…October 2nd, I’m just walking by the tank and I see this…

F1 (Lightning X Lightning) first spawn for the Lightning Maroon Clownfish

We are about to embark on the next exciting chapter of the Lightning Maroon Clownfish and genes.  My hypothesis is that the Lightning gene is partially dominant or dominant. The offspring from this spawn, if successfully raised, will yield important answers that may shed new light on the genetics at play. Will we see something NEW come out of this? Well..I certainly hope so and it looks like I’ll get to name it!

Let’s give that a closer look:










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