Bill Addison, legendary founder of the C-Quest farm in Puerto Rico, coined the term Gladiator when describing a variety of clownfish he discovered in his hatchery. We imagine that Bill must have encountered uniquely patterned specimens in a batch of Amphiprion ocellaris that displayed head patterns reminiscent of a helmet. As luck would have it, Gladiator genetics were inheritable and Bill created a bloodline of this variety. It seems that not all Gladiator specimens exhibit the warrior helmet pattern; most only possess bars that are noticeably wider than their Gladiator-gene-lacking brethren. Other Gladiators exhibit swirls, connecting bars, or white patterns not found on wild-type specimens.
We purchased broodstock from C-Quest throughout the years but never any of their Gladiator clownfish. Although it is possible that we have wild-type ocellaris with C-Quest genetics, we think the mutation showed up randomly in our hatcheries. We first stumbled across the Gladiator mutation in a single Ocellaris from our own production around 10 years ago. Since then, we have been refining the shape, color and pattern of the fish through careful selective breeding and introductions of wild-type genetics.
The Gladiator mutation manifests in a wide array of phenotypes, arguably more unique than the Picasso variety of A. percula, but it works much the same way: if you breed two fish with the phenotype you usually end up with a mixture of wild-type fish, Gladiators and also a percentage of fish that are nearly all white. Within batches of Gladiator clownfish, these all-white fish are called Wyoming Whites, another variety originally named by Bill Addison. We’ve noticed that although the Gladiator genetics behave similarly to Picasso genetics, we aren’t finding the same percentage of designer fish in the Gladiator batches. There are fewer Gladiators per batch than we were expecting which makes them a little tricky to produce in large quantities. There is a way around this though – more broodstock! As additional pairs begin producing spawns for us, we expect to have Gladiators available more regularly.
Gladiators are sold under a variety of industry names including DaVinci and Fancy clownfish. Rather than make up a new name for an existing fish, we thought it was best to honor the original Gladiator name that Bill used.