The Lightning Project

The ongoing saga of the PNG Lightning Maroon Clownfish Breeding Project

Browsing Posts tagged ORA

I’m a man of my word; Mike reared a good batch with Spawn #27, and tonight, new photos of the ORA Gold Nugget Maroon Clownfish in Rhinelander (LiveAquaria’s Diver’s Den) were posted.  The fish looked good, and being on sale from $499.99 to only $349.99, it was time to honor my end of the bargain.  So this fish….


…is now Mike Doty’s and should be here on Tuesday morning.

I can’t say how blessed I am to have a fellow fish breeder who lives four blocks away and is willing to come feed babies on short notice….Mike I am always in your debt!  Now lets see what this throws when paired with a standard Gold Stripe Maroon! My prognostication – we get 100% Gold Flake types out of it…


Mid September, 2012, ORA released the news that they have developed a line of Goldflake Maroons from aberrant offspring of their Goldstripe breeding program.

ORA's Goldflake Maroon Clownfish

ORA Goldflake Maroon Clownfish, Premnas biaculeatus "ORA Sumatra Goldflake" - image copyright ORA, 2012

This is particularly interesting, as ORA first tried working with a “Jigsaw” White Stripe Maroon, obtained from the Solomon Islands some 8 years back.  ORA wrote, “Our experience in breeding Jigsaws was much different than with breeding Picassos and unlike Matt Pedersen with his Lightning Maroon, we didn’t see uniquely patterned offspring from our fish.   After several batches of normal White Stripes we focused our efforts on Picassos,Snowflakes and the other designer clownfish we were working with at the time.  That Jigsaw is still in broodstock and he’s been spawning reliably for 7 years now!”

Meanwhile, their success with aberrant Gold-Stripe Maroons from Sumatra has really taken off.  ORA recounts the development story – “To our surprise, spawns from these select fish did result in increased numbers of uniquely barred offspring. What was once seemingly random had become a reproducible event.  We needed to come up with a name.   We couldn’t call the fish Jigsaws, because these were Gold Stripes and the pattern was quite a bit different from our wild caught White Stripe.   Internally at ORA our staff affectionately called them Funky Maroons but never intended on selling them as such.  Within the hobby it seems that Goldflake has become the accepted name for other Gold Stripes with this pattern variation.   Rather than come up with an alternate name that would confuse hobbyists we have decided to adopt it.  Each Goldflake will have a unique pattern and, depending on the degree of white on the fish, these fish will be graded as regulars or premiums.  Some of the premium fish have white that covers nearly half of their bodies.   These fish will look absolutely spectacular when the white turns to gold as they mature.   While the standard Goldflake will be readily available from ORA, the Premium Goldflakes are still exceptionally rare, perhaps one in 20,000 fish making their availability VERY limited.”

I discussed this fish briefly with Dustin Dorton at MACNA last weekend…it seems they don’t quite have the genetics nailed down yet.  When the staff at ORA does figure it out, I hope they will embrace the new tradition of genetic transparency that’s sweeping clownfish breeding and disclose their findings.  As I demonstrated at MACNA when I showed the Angelfish genetics, transparency forces breeders to focus on producing quality fish, and that’s something that helps us all.

I encourage you to read more on the initial ORA blog here: - I left at least one nice “extra” for you (think “all white goldstripe maroon clownfish”)

Be sure to check out the Goldflake Maroon Clownfish Product Page here ->

Not much else to say, just a short snippet of the Lighting Maroon flirting with a ORA Red Goniopora colony while being bathed in a sliver of afternoon Easter sunlight.

So, two totally unrelated comments to make quickly tonight.  First, I really think my suspicions of a fin nipper are correct.  Why?  Because a new chunk showed up missing from the TOP of the Lightning Maroon’s right pectoral fin.  I’d be a lot more worried if there wasn’t also a chunk missing from the tail of my female Mandarin and multiple chunks removed from the fin edges of the 6″ long Labrador Maroon, the undisputed boss of the tank.  I can only assume that one of the Bristletail Filefish, probably the male, has gotten into a bad habit of fin nipping.  It is conceivable that this could tie in with increased reproductive activity or something.  Regardless, I am now thinking about where I can house this pair of fish.  GRR!

I also wanted to point the readers to check out the post by Jake Adams on Reef Builders today regarding ORA’s “misbar” Maroons – – certainly a fundamentally different stripe mutation (again, only guessing that it’s genetic but I think it is).  Arguably very similar to the Picasso Perc and Snowflake Ocellaris, both of which I think are the “same mutation” as it appears on 2 different species, and now here it is again on a Maroon.  Very interesting, but again, all this about genetics is just speculation at the moment.

As promised, I was never naive enough to take on this project alone, even with my “maverick”, “rule breaking” reputation.  If I look at all my correspondence objectively with the advisers, I’d have to draw a general conclusion that the “fin rot” may have been the tipping point.  Yes, there was certainly some underriding concerns about keeping the fish in the same tank together all along, but now, a new concensus (“bandwagon”) seems to have coalesced.  With their permission, here’s what some of the advisers have said.

“At this point, I would advise getting the lightning maroon out of there and keeping it away from the female. From the pictures, that female is not doing well. The last thing we want is for any infections to be transmitted to the lightning. If the female gets better, you can reintroduce them but for now, get the lightning the heck out of there.”
- Mark Martin, Blue Zoo Aquatics

“When I quarantine new fish everything is kept separate just in case something like this happens.  With the value and rarity of the lightning clown you simply can’t risk having it in the same system with a sick fish.  I don’t know if putting it in your sps tank is a good idea though as you will have no options left for treatment.  I would really try to separate that fish.”
- Dustin Dorton, ORA

“Get the male the hell out of here if you want to keep him alive, if you have a reef tank put it in it or any other well established tank, that fish is way to valuable to lose.  I say it like it is you can keep trying to save the female if you wish, I know you want to keep the PNG lineage but getting another female later won’t be impossible, if you lose the male I’m guessing the project is done.”
- Edgar Diaz, Addy Zone

“I’m surprised you still have them together, Matt, I’d be very nervous, and I don’t see any benefit to having them together. They’ll’ bond plenty when they’re not feeling like crap.”
- Christine Williams

Certainly a lot to think about, and the majority at this point IS suggesting to remove the Lightning Maroon from the female (and I infer, this QT / Quarantine / Hospital tank).

Back on the warpath


Well, water change, dosage of Fish Protector and Kent’s Vitamin C.  Removal of GAC already.  Turned off the BULB on the UV but not the flow – not sure if I can run UV while using Maracyn SW.  Dosed with Maracyn SW.  The only products carried by my local Petco are “Lifeguard” and “Maroxy”.  Maracyn has been solid against this exact malady in the past when applied quickly (have seen this exactly same Fin Rot like this rampage through my Dragonette broodstock a few years wasn’t pretty).  I should also mention that Maracyn SW is noted as a valid treatment for fin rot.  Anyone know the MARDEL company website?  I want to email them some questions but I can’t even seem to find a good solid contact for them.

Let’s hope this at least stalls things.  I am contemplating sequestering the Lightning Maroon back behind an eggcrate wall again – Dustin Dorton from ORA asked me about that as well this evening.  And once again, thinking about removing the Lightning Maroon from this tank…he remains a typical healthy Maroon Clown.  There is legitimate concern that leaving him in with her could cause more harm than good.  Of course, I don’t like my options for alternate homes, and there is also the concern that removing him from her would cause him to become a her

It’s funny how this all has taken precedence over any concerns about the known ongoing low-level issues with Cryptocaryon (ICH).  I’m still debating whether I should push back down to 1.010 or even 1.009 as Joe Lichtenbert has suggested.  I should point out that the better sources on Hyposalinity treatments do agree that the difference between 1.009 and even 1.010 might make the difference between successful treatment or not.  Of course, you’re riding a fine line at 1.009 where fish death is a real possiblity (if you’re refractometer is even only slightly off).

Divergent Paths

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This morning, both fish showed signs of improvement.  I was patting myself on the back for deciding to dose Formalin to the tank at the 1 drop per gallon rate.  I didn’t say anything because I didn’t want to jinx anything.

The Lightning Maroon is doing well.  Today, all day, I can finally say that it has started to behave like a typical clownfish.  Playful, energetic yet still timid and nervous.  Eating well, and eating anything I offer.

This evening, after being gone for a couple hours, I returned to find this:

Maroon Clownfish...not feeling well

the female PNG Maroon...

OK, what exactly is supposed to go through my head at this point?  Seriously.  Are you KIDDING me?  I honestly thought the fish was dead or wedged in and unable to get out (and dead).  I started taking live rock out and she bolted out and up into the water column, fully erect and alert.  And then she went and laid down behind some other rock.  And then bolted around the tank.  And then laid down again.  There is nothing outward visibly wrong with her in any way, except for rapid breathing and erratic behavior (and the fact that she has not eaten in a week or longer now).

CLEARLY the female is still having issues, and this is definitely not going in the direction I want.  I need to reevaluate what I’m doing and I’ll need to do so tonight.  I’ll post up what I decide to do when I’ve done so.

I need to pass along quick thanks to my trusted group of advisers.  They include Joe Lichtenbert of RPI, Edgar Diaz of Addy-Zone, Mark Martin @ Blue Zoo Aquatics, Dustin Dorton @ ORA, Matthew Carberry @ Sustainable Aquatics and Christine Williams.  They have all been valuable contributors and have given me LOTS to think about.  No doubt the amount of emails flying back and forth is staggering for them. THANK YOU for putting up with all of it guys, I hope you feel some ownership over this project.  Remember, I feel that this isn’t MY project, but “everyone’s”.

It is perhaps interesting, if not comforting, to know that between 6 highly-qualified & experienced aquarists, each one has had suggestions or advice as unique as they are themselves.  I will say the general consensus has been to stick with Hyposalinity and minimize stress (to not make any sudden changes).  The change in the female’s condition may nullify some or all of that advice, but it’s hard to say.

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