The Lightning Project

The ongoing saga of the PNG Lightning Maroon Clownfish Breeding Project

Browsing Posts tagged growout

Spawn #27 came back to my fishroom on 6/20/2014, as Mike Doty has opted to do another run of Lightnings with spawn #36 (update on that as of 6-30, there were only about 10 that made it from Spawn #35 – Mike had some hatching issues this time ’round).





I took the opportunity to do a headcount on Spawn #27 as I released the group into the BRT – provided I didn’t make any mistakes, the rough split was 28 Lightning Maroons, and 24 White Stripe Maroons.  Out of those 24 White Stripes, I maybe only noticed 3 that had extra markings and would fall into the “Morse Code” notion.


I should point out that Mike and I discussed his rearing methodologies at great length; you’ll recall that part of the reason for allowing him to rear batches was to see if he could do any better, and my own effort to learn from him and work in collaboration. Say what you will, but the bottom line is that Mike reared spawn #27 with what amounts to a 50% water change weekly.  I can guarantee I was nowhere near that on some runs.  Of course, that’s not the only difference involved here…his methodology was to drain the standalone BRT half way each week, and gradually fill it back up over the course of the week, and then repeat.

It seemed like a very manageable system, and frankly it should be obvious that good base maintenance will get you good results.  There are still some deformed fish, but if I have to be honest, I think he reared a superior batch than the first big one. I’m going to look into segregating them out, as well as stepping up the water changes overall, as that can only help produce superior fish. It’s interesting to note that the sizes do vary immensely within the group, whereas the group of 10 I had going from around the same time is more homogeneous in size and has more patterning, and is comparable in size to these.  It will take a lot of really specialized research to hone in on some of the variables in play, but I look forward to doing that if I’m able.

Mike’s routine is hardly surprising – my breeding of Angelfish relied strongly on 50% weekly water changes, and based on published recommendations, while I took 3-4 months to hit market size doing 50% weekly water changes on growout, if I had stepped it up to 50% daily water changes, I would have cut my growout time down to 6 week!  Think about that.

I have two posts besides this one I need to make…life has just been hectic as usual. They’ll come.

First, Spawn #24 has been laid.  Sadly, it wasn’t a Valentine’s spawn, it was laid on February 13th, 2014.

Following my extensive water testing of larval tanks to see what the heck was going on, I made the decision to transfer the 5 remaining survivors from Spawn #21 into a tank filled with clean, new but aged saltwater, in another BRT.  So I started that BRT fresh, made sure salinity matched, then moved 2 fish to test it (remember, these fish were in water with apparently very high Nitrite and Ammonia levels according to tests)  When they survived overnight, I moved the remaining 3 (If memory serves correctly there are 3 Lightnings and 2 White Stripes in the mix).  I then turned them onto the larvar rearing system.  No deaths.

Given my role as a Sr. Editor for CORAL Magazine, I’m privy to magazine content sometimes before it is published.  This week I got to review an extremely exciting article I had played a hand in soliciting some months back, and while I can’t give much away, I will say this before I forget.  It is obviously a breeding article, and one of the techniques brought up is that of simply routinely moving fish out of one larval rearing vessel to another as a technique to maintain premium water quality…perhaps easier than doing 99% water changes, and I presume it has other benefits (such as “escaping” the biofilm that develops on a rearing vessel).  I may have to try this technique…whether my problems are due to persistently deteriorating water quality or the development of pathogenic bacteria (eg. Vibrio), this methodology might side step those problems completely.   So be sure to pick up the March/April 2014 issue of CORAL Magazine to see who brought this idea up and in what context…if you’re even remotely interested in fish breeding, this is going to be a knockout issue for you.

Just went downstairs…all but one offspring in Spawn #20 is dead on the bottom.  !#%!#!!@!!

Water test shows completely off the wall parameters…eg. Nitrite at 5 PPM, Ammonia at 0.5 ppm, Nitrate at 40 ppm?!.  Now, whether that’s all the dead fish in the tank, or if that’s the cause, I’m not sure, but I’m thinking cause vs. effect…this must have snuck up on me this week and must have built up rather suddenly.

Since this type of loss has happened so many times now at this stage, I’m admittedly baffled because water quality hasn’t been a problem in prior losses, and yet they all have occurred around this same timeline, so I must be doing something horribly wrong, and water changes should have been keeping this under control (remember, this group got a near 100% water change earlier this week!).  Only 5 days to go from perfect parameter new water to the above?  I’m shocked.  The bioload and feedings simply don’t add up. I’d say I was overfeeding, but I can’t see how that’s the case.  In the past, at this point in time, I’ve normally put the fish onto the system only to watch them all die immediately after.

Looks like I must reevaluate my methods yet again.  Talk about frustrating.

Update – so I’ve been sitting her mulling this over, and here’s the things I recently did – #1 Fed them Brine Nauplii last night.  That seems to be a recurrent theme…feed the babies brine nauplii, have dead babies… #2. I did top off last night.  Is my RO/DI water contaminated? Time to test it…

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

You missed a lot of Lightning Maroon Clownfish news!  Of course, the “news” can be summed up in pictorial form.





At this point, the fish are around 1″ total length…maybe a hair more on the largest.  Still quite small.  Not every fish is perfect – in fact, I’m pretty unhappy with how the majority turned out…will be a fair number of culls I think.  Still, a lot of good genetic material is on hand to play with!  I also divulged my basic plan for the offspring at MACNA, so here goes:

Approximately 3 pairs will be held back for my personal breeding efforts.  3 pairs will go to local breeders.  Culls will be offered to established commercial breeding operations for genetic material to work with (the assumption here being that culls were the product of the environment and fighting, hopefully not genetic issues).  The remaining top tier fish will be sold at retail, probably at auction, to the general public.  My anticipation is that there will be maybe 30-40 fish at most to offer, which translates to only 15-20 Lightnings max.  Once again, time to start saving your pennies (and hundred dollar bills).

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