ORA has added another species to its list of captive bred Marine Ornamentals, McCulloch’s Clownfish (Amphiprion mccullochi). This success story is a little different from others we have shared in the past. This time we didn’t actually breed the fish but we did raise the larvae.
When the McCullochs first entered the US aquarium market in 2008 we purchased several pairs. Much to our chagrin they were extremely aggressive towards one another. None of our fish got along and spawning was out of the question. Everyone knows how aggressive some clownfish species can be, these guys take it to a whole new level! There was at least one person out there who was having success in maintaining pair bonds between these fish, Kevin Kohen at Doctors Foster and Smith in Rhinelander, Wisconsin.
In 2009, Kevin and his staff at LiveAquaria.com became the first people to successfully raise the McCulloch clownfish in the US. You can read all about it here. These were exciting times and many people were eagerly anticipating an increase in the availability of this species. Between 2009 and 2010, Kevin was able to raise several small batches of fish from multiple spawns in their Aquaculture Coral and Marine Life Facility located in Rhinelander, Wisconsin. From there, the decision was made to dedicate all of their efforts on the care and conditioning of aquatic life in their facility, as opposed to breeding and rearing.
In early 2011 ORA and LiveAquaria formed a collaborative relationship in an effort to raise these coveted clownfish. The pair bonds between these fish are so fragile that relocating the broodstock to Florida was simply not an option so the decision was made to ship only the eggs. There are a number of challenges when transporting clownfish spawns. Most importantly they must be shipped at the proper age. Wait too long and they will hatch off in the broodstock tank, or even worse, in the bag during shipping. If shipped too early the eggs are likely to decay without parental care. Water quality and temperature must be maintained during shipping, this typically requires large volumes of water. Lastly great care must be taken to prevent the eggs from getting damaged in shipping. In our case the eggs were shipped on a tile so it was imperative that the eggs not get crushed by the tile should the box get overturned, and that the tile did not puncture the shipping bags.
We were able to overcome most of these shipping challenges and we had several successful hatches of McCullochs in 2011. To our surprise they have turned out to be pretty slow growing fish compared to similar species like the Cinnamon and Tomato clowns. It takes quite a while for them to lose their juvenile barring which consists of a tail and middle bar in addition the head bar they keep as an adult. We were pleased to see they were less aggressive than we expected as youngsters too.
ORA appreciates the opportunity to work with these rare fish and we wish to express our sincere thanks to Kevin Kohen and the rest of the LiveAquaria team. To fulfill our end of the relationship with LiveAquaria, a batch was shipped to them a few weeks ago. We have heard they will be going up in the Divers Den any time now so keep an eye out. The next group should be available for shipping in the coming weeks. Retailers can keep an eye on our pricelist or give our sales office a call.