Maroon Clownfish, Premnas biaculeatus, are most commonly encountered in two varieties – the Gold Stripe and the White Stripe. ORA has been breeding Maroon clowns for 16 years and during that time most of our efforts have focused on Gold Stripe Maroons from Sumatra because they are considered to be the most attractive and desirable variety. In recent years there has been increasing interest in fish with unusual pattern variations, the most notable being the Lightning Maroon. Despite the interest imports have been rare and until recently success with their captive breeding was limited.
ORA acquired their first wild Maroon clown with unusual markings in July of 2004. The fish originated in the Solomon Islands and was shipped to us along with our first wild Picasso Percula Clownfish, the very fish that became the foundation of all Picassos that we produce to this day. At the time, the name “Jigsaw” was the popular name used to describe Maroons with aberrant patterns. 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!
There is some degree of pattern variation within spawns from every species of fish we raise. With Gold Stripe Maroons, many offspring end up with incomplete bars, or “misbarred”, but we frequently encounter fish with small amounts of extra white on their flanks too. These fish have usually been sold right along with the regular barred Gold Stripes. Not long ago our broodstock department starting holding back some of the most unusual patterned fish. Even though our Jigsaw White Stripe hadn’t produced extra white offspring we wanted to see if the pattern would pass down to offspring of these Gold Stripe Maroons.
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.
Our efforts to intensify the amount of aberrant pattern on the Goldflakes through selective breeding have produced an added bonus – something entirely original – a nearly all white Gold Stripe Maroon clownfish much like the Platinum Percula. These fish are very new and we only have a few spawns in the production pipeline but it appears that our pairs will produce them reliably unlike the Premium Goldflake. They are still too young for their white pattern to turn gold but they will be stunning once it begins. In time, as we watch them develop, we will try and come up with a name for them. Suggestions are welcome!
Goldflake Maroons are available from ORA now. Most fish will have extensions on the middle bar or spots. 24K Solid Gold fish will be available in coming years. You can visit the ORA Goldflake Maroon product page here.
** UPDATE ** We wanted to clarify something. The “Jigsaw” Whitestripe had no part in the Goldflake breeding program nor did any other fish aside from pure Gold Stripe Maroons.