The Lightning Project

The ongoing saga of the PNG Lightning Maroon Clownfish Breeding Project

Browsing Posts tagged split hatch

Yes, when you’re not actively rearing any spawns (due to a planned fishroom redesign) tracking them seems to fall out of priority rather quickly.  That said, it’s a habit I should stick to, even if it makes for rather mundane blog updates!  Gotta record the data.

Wednesday, June 24th, the F1 Lightning X Lightning pair spawned, putting down what is now their 14th spawn.  For whatever reason, they’re taking a slower incubation period…most of the eggs hatched 7 days later, the following Wednesday night, July 1st going into today.  Roughly 1/3 of the nest remains…and presumably will hatch tonight.  I should point out that the pair is currently receiving no foods other than Spectrum’s Thera A, and has been on such a diet for quite a while.  I’m pretty impressed with the nests I’m seeing from fish eating only pellet foods!

The F0 (wild) Lightning Maroon and White Stripe spawned this week again, spawning on Tuesday, June 30th.  Based on my records this is their 59th spawn. Crazy to think about.

So I discovered a trick last night – if I run my finger over a clownfish nest, the fish inside the eggs will wiggle if alive. So despite having had no appreciable hatch all day, I pulled the tile, sanitized it again with H2O2, and threw it back in the larval tank.  I DID get a few eggs to hatch during the vigorous aeration in the sanitizing dip, so that further told me I was on the right path.

I didn’t get to check the nest until 4 PM today, but sure enough, there were significantly more larvae in the tank.  It required a new strong feeding with rotifers.  I once again tested the eggs…still viable, so I put some ChloramX in the water, and left the tile back in there.  They may not get checked again until tomorrow…

I made a rare 8 PM trek down into the fishroom tonight (6/4/2014) and discovered the Lightning Maroon and her mate putting down Spawn #34. Based on how things are going, next Tuesday night should be the pull night.

My attempt to get a second night’s hatch out of Spawn #33 utterly failed. I did place the tile back with the parents come morning, and I went through the egg sanitizing protocol (with H2O2) for another 15 minute bath. I saw ONE larvae hatch out…a total dud.  My plan for the next spawn will be to pull the tile and 20 gallons out of the broodstock tank (BIG water change); 10 gallons each will go into two BRTs, and then I’ll simply move the tile from the first night’s hatch into the 2nd BRT for the 2nd night, sticking with the egg sanitizing protocol (as it seems to be helping?)

Those larvae that are alive from Spawn #33 are doing reasonably well..they are plowing through rotifers at an alarming rate; I’m adding in new saltwater along with RO/DI Water daily, as well as small feedings of TDO A to supplement for what I think might be a rotifer shortage. Low doses of ChloramX and RotiGreen Omega continue to be pulsed in as well.

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.

While I was away, Mike did a great job with the fishroom and the baby Lightnings from Spawn #27.  He got two hatches out of them, which means once again, these eggs hatched out over THREE nights.  Crazy.  When I stopped by Mike’s place on 4-3-14, he had maybe 50-100 pre-settlement offspring in one tank, and maybe a dozen from the 3rd night’s hatch.

Also while I was gone, Mike recorded a spawn on 3-30-2014, making this Spawn #28.  The most interesting thing about spawn #28 is that they laid it on two tiles; a small cluster on the leaning tile, and the bulk of the spawn on the vertical wall tile.  I didn’t take a picture for lack of time, but I should have.  Come the morning of 4-4-14, it was clear to see that the smaller disc of eggs on the leaning tile had become rather “sparse”…did some hatch out on the night of 4-3?  If they were laid on 3-30, that makes 3-31, 4-1, 4-2, 4-3…that doesn’t seem like quite enough days have passed.  But that also means that come tonight, 4-4, it is a pretty safe bet that there is going to be a hatch.  So I pulled the tile and placed it in my 10 gallon with a coarse air stone for hatching; I neglected to do a H2O2 (hydrogen peroxide) dip, mainly because my Angelfish are so productive I don’t have any spare large specimen cups running around the fishroom..they’re all full of Pterophyllum eggs or fry.

Tomorrow AM, I’ll find out if I pulled them right, or screwed up again.

By March 21st, both Mike and I were at zero for larval maroons from batch #26…we both crapped out.

It’s now the evening of March 25th, 2014, and Mike left my fishroom about 25 minutes ago with a bucket and a tile; I’ll be out of town at the NEC convention this week followed by a visit to the Vermont-based home offices of CORAL Magazine, AMAZONAS Magazine and Reef To Rainforest Media LLC, so Mike and my wife get to pay attention to the fishroom in my absense.  It makes more sense to have freshly hatched clownfish in Mike’s fishroom vs. my own, and the deal I’ve made with him is this – if he rears a good solid batch up, I owe him a Gold Nugget Maroon to pair with his existing Gold Stripe Female.  Done deal in my book.

What I’m more curious about is to see if Mike can fair better than I have been doing.  Just on the ride home, 10 already hatched….which brings me to the other ongoing issue – as this morning, it was apparently that a good portion of the eggs had already hatched on the overnight from the 24th going into the 25th. Once again, only 5 days post spawn.  Mike should get a solid hatch tonight (6 days post spawn), and he might even be able to get stragglers again on the 7th day if he plays his cards right.  What’s up with the hatch spreading out over THREE days?!  At any rate, this is what it looks like will happen for Spawn #27.

 

Last week, the hatch of Spawn #26 approached.  I’d been talking with Mike, at this point looking for really different way to approach the rearing problems I’ve been facing.  The thought process was simple – send a tile over to Mike and see if he can do any better.  Well, based on the 6-7 day model, Spawn #26 was due to hatch on either the night of the 12th, or 13th.

Come the morning of the 12th, it looked like there had already been a big hatch…at least 50% of the eggs were gone.  Easily half hatched on the only the 5th night!  Well, I pulled the tile that night, gave it a H202 dip (4ml in 0.5 gallons for 15 minutes), and come morning of the 13th, probably 50-100 more larvae had hatched.  And there were still viable eggs.  So the afternoon of the 13th, Mike came over and grabbed the tile.  And come the morning of the 14th, Mike had a few more babies hatched out.

And so, by March 19th, the larvae I had dwindled to around 6 or so…and Mike was down to 1.  I noticed a very disturbing change in larval rearing; for some reason in this run, my larvae were floating on their sides…a very odd set of circumstances that only seems explainable by an internal gas buildup…odd seeing fish kinda stuck to the surface with headstripes forming.

Meanwhile March 19th was also the date of Spawn #27; as far as I can tell, the tank temperature has rising from 82 to 84F, and that could explain why hatch started coming as early as 5 days post spawn…we’ll see if we do better on the next one…

Talking with Mike on Friday, as best as we can figure out Spawn #25 was put down Saturday, February 22nd. This fits the timeline…come Friday night (Feb 28th) we’d be at 6 days post spawn, which is the earliest eggs hatch. I opted to wait until the 7th night, which was last night (Saturday, March 1st) to pull the tile.

Come Saturday morning, it was clear that some eggs were gone…perhaps as much as 50% of the nest must have hatched on the 6th night. But as we’ve seen so many times before, these eggs, for whatever reason, are prone to split hatching over 2 nights (a problem I also had and never fixed with my wild Onyx Perculas). So last night, technically 2AM this morning, I pulled the tile to prepare it for hatching.

I returned to the 15 minute hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) bath in broodstock water, and I drained the 10 gallon clownfish hatching tank, soaked it with FW, rinsed it all out, and filled it with 5 gallons of broodstock water. Thinking that either the use of clean new water, or a weak air setting, caused the hatch failure in Spawn #24, I set up the tile with a rather vigorous flow of air from the wooden airstone. A dime white moonlight at the far end of the tank was set up to draw larvae away from the heavier currents & flow of the hatching setup and tile.

By 3 AM, I took a peak and noticed there seemed to be a good hatch, so I harvested 1.5 gallons worth of rotifers and added 20 drops of RotiGreen Omega. I was feeling optimistic.

9 AM this morning, I checked in and removed both the hatching tile and the large tile that I had placed on the bottom to prevent the hatching tile from sliding / fall. To my disappointment, it appeared that most all larvae were on the bottom, and some were dead. There was only maybe a dozen eggs on the tile that had not hatched. I added almost 50 drops of RotiGreen Omega to help green up the water and hopefully get the babies up off the bottom; I also turned the air flow down significantly to just a trickle, feeling that perhaps I should have done this “last night”. Could it simply be that several hours of turbulence in the tank had caused some of the larvae to expend excessive amounts of energy and doomed them to a quick death?

I’ll be keeping an eye on these obviously….wish me luck.

It’s been a busy January here, with my trip to Cleveland to give some well-received talks at C-SEA followed by a grueling week of fishroom preparation in advance of Reef Builder’s world-reknowned Jake Adams dropping by for a surprise visit and a bit of Q&A at the Lake Superior Marine Aquarium Club’s winter / holiday / new year bash. Of course, the Lightning Maroon breeding and rearing doesn’t stop because life gets in the way, but you better believe the online posts can sometimes drop in priority!

Spawn #20 has progressed, but not without hiccups. You may recall I split this batch between the 10 gallon tank and a 15 gallon BRT (black round tub), earlier this month. This proved to be a wise move. More on that in a second, but I found it extremely interesting to note that the larvae which were moved to the BRT under 24 hour light grew faster and underwent metamorphosis sooner…3-4 days sooner, than the ones left in the 10 gallon tank (which by default gets around an 8 hour dark period).  Just before my trip to Cleveland, I took this shot of the babies in the BRT:

Spawn #20 in the BRT, post metamorphosis, already easily discernable as white stripes or lightnings.

Spawn #20 in the BRT, post metamorphosis, already easily discernable as white stripes or lightnings.

During my time at C-SEA, my good friend and fellow clownfish breeder Mike Doty (you may recall he helped hatch and rear the very first Lightnings) was keeping an eye on the fishroom. For no reason, somewhere around the 17th or so, the babies in the 10 gallon just died. Mike can’t explain it, I can’t explain it. We’ve seen this happen before.

Meanwhile the ones in the BRT fared better, but there still have been losses. During one of Mike’s stop overs, he found 7 dead.  This photograph from 1-27-2014:

Lightning Maroon Clownfish Spawn #20 at 1/27/2014

Lightning Maroon Clownfish Spawn #20 at 1/27/2014

Most recently, on the 28th I started a water change, which normally is done with a very slow siphon into a 5 gallon bucket, the intake being placed so that it won’t drain the tank completely. Well…I didn’t have it really clamped down, and so it drained the BRT ompletely. Those babies which were still in a couple mm of water survived the 99.9% water change, but those that were in shallower water – damp, but not submerged – were dead. 21 lost totally due to a preventable accident. The upside is that the fish took a very traumatic, near 100% water change, and yet survived.

Victims of a water change gone awry.  Totally my fault.  Very frustrated over it, but moving on...

Victims of a water change gone awry. Totally my fault. Very frustrated over it, but moving on…

I’m guesstimating another 20-30 still alive. Either way, that shows you the losses through attrition that happen as these fish grow up – I stocked the BRT with 140 larvae.

Spawn #21 – I left Spawn #21 more or less in the hands of Mike to hatch…a handful of offspring had hatched out on the morning of the 17th (pulling the nest on the 16th was 7 days post spawn), and later that afternoon I had to depart for Cleveland. Unfortunately, the tile fell overnight, so come the 18th, instead of Mike finding a bunch of larvae hatched out, he came over to find a dead nest.

The few offspring that did make it from Spawn #21 underwent metamorphosis during Jake’s visit; it was pretty clear to see which were lightnings vs. not by Saturday night (the 25th)….this seems to be a pretty fast time to metamorphosis.  My headcount on offspring from this batch is somewhere around 4-6 post settlement…another very small run.  This photo also from 1/27/2014:

A couple of the survivors in Spawn #21, photographed 1/27/2014

A couple of the survivors in Spawn #21, photographed 1/27/2014

Spawn #22 – on the afternoon of 1/20/2014, the 22nd clutch of eggs was put down by the Lightning Maroon and her mate. Paying a close attention to things, I knew I could be pulling them as early as 6 days post spawn…so 21,22,23,24,24, evening of the 26th being 6 days on. Well, I took a gamble, left a little more ambient room light falling on the eggs, and found that on the morning of the 27th, we still had a nice, solid nest. Come the evening of the 27th, I pulled the tile along with 5 gallons of broodstock water and 5 gallons of new saltwater, and set them up with a wooden airstone incubation. I used a second tile to prevent the tile from falling, as well as to help weigh down and position the wooden airstone under the eggs. (I found my wooden airstones from eBay seller hoolko, who happened to be mentioned on Reef Builders a while back).

Spawn #22 set up and ready for hatching in a 10 gallon tank.

Spawn #22 set up and ready for hatching in a 10 gallon tank.  Note the larvae already hatched!

Within minutes of transferring the nest, I had a few larvae hatch, still in full light.

Newly hatched Lightning Maroon Clownfish offspring swims next to the Seachem Ammonia Alert Badge....

Newly hatched Lightning Maroon Clownfish offspring swims next to the Seachem Ammonia Alert Badge….

I left things go, not feeding or anything else. By the morning of January 28th, I had a few dozen larvae in the tank, but the bulk of the eggs remained unhatched. I weighed my options a bit, and ultimately decided to introduce some rotifers (about 2 gallons worth) but refrained from adding any phytoplantkon. I thought maybe I’d have more hatches later in the day, but come nightfall, nothing had happened. Would this be a botched hatch?

Apparently yes and no. This morning (the 29th) several hundred larvae were present in the tank, but many many more dead eggs were on the bottom. Most of the larvae held tightly to the black back wall of the 10 gallon tank.

Spawn #22 after the large hatch, before cleanup.

Spawn #22 after the large hatch, before cleanup.

I took the opportunity to first siphon off all the dead eggs (and dead larvae) on the bottom before tinting the tank with 50 drops of RotiGreen Omega.

Spawn #22 after cleaning up the larval tank.

Spawn #22 after cleaning up the larval tank.

I gave the rotifers their morning feeding of RotiGrow Plus, and later this evening they’ll get the next infusion of rotifers. I’m thinking I will once again work on a system of water changes, lowering salinity, and 24 hour lighting, to grow this batch, and as I discovered, I will once again at minimum split the batch early on.

The Holdback F1 Lightning Maroon Clownfish Pair

So I finally pulled the trigger on pairing up my holdbacks.  The Ecoxotic cube had been up and running for a while with a single holdback Lightning in it, so I swapped the fish and simply added in my Lightnings as a pair (they had formerly been neighbors, side by side) on 1/21/2014.

Initially, things went very well.  Here’s some video the day after, 1/22/2014.

Unfortunately, things didn’t continue down this blissful path.  A few days later, the larger fish turned on the smaller fish, damaging a few fins and forcing me to segregate the fish around 1/25/2014.  Currently, it is the larger, “future female” Lightning Maroon who resides in a drilled specimen cup.

Future pair of F1 Lightning Maroon Clownfish

Future pair of F1 Lightning Maroon Clownfish

The Holdback White Stripe Maroon F1 Pair

I should mention that somewhere in January I shuffled some fish around and introduced my two F1 PNG White Stripe holdbacks to each other as well.  The pairing has gone so-so.  They are not paired, but they continue to share their tank, the smaller fish cowering in a protected area but not otherwise excessively abused.  I’ll try to snag some photos at some point.  This will be a very important pairing to breed, as it will help definitively answer the question as to whether the “white stripe” siblings carry any special genetics (and it will prove or disprove the presence of a recessive Lightning gene).

Back on track it would seem…Spawn #14 appears to have completed metamorphosis.  Despite good care, and seemingly good success, I can’t estimate more than 25-30 offspring.

Spawn #15 didn’t hatch as planned…only 2 babies the first night.  Small hatch the next night, and possibly more the following night.  Hard to tell how many larvae there are at this point, but they seem to be doing well so far. So potentially this was spread over 3 nights?  Sheesh!

The last news, today, 11/6/2013, the pair put down Spawn #16.

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