Love At First Sight

ORA biologists have developed some interesting hybrid fish over the years and today we have another great one, the Blood Orange Clownfish.  This striking fish is the offspring of a female Maroon Clown (Premnas biaculeatus) and Ocellaris Clown (Amphiprion ocellaris).

Our part of the story began in 2012 when our good friend Larry Lau from Eco Reef Aquarium mentioned that he had a Maroon x Ocellaris Clownfish pair that he thought we might be interested in.  Not only did he tell us they were peacefully cohabitating but he also said they were spawning every three weeks.

Anyone who has experience with Gold Striped Maroons knows how difficult they can be to pair.  Female Gold Stripes are extremely particular about whom they share their space with and you cannot simply add a good looking male and hope for the best.  Females can be extremely aggressive towards people and tank décor let alone other fish!

Once in a while, however, love on the reef happens spontaneously.  We asked Larry how this unlikely pair came to be and he shared the following story:  Over 10 years ago he had sold a Gold Stripe Maroon to a customer setting up their first reef tank.   When the customer had to move out of town they gave the Maroon back to Larry.  He placed her in his display aquarium with a large green carpet anemone where she lived by herself for over a year.  When Larry received an adult Ocellaris from another customer he decided to place it in the 200 gallon aquarium, thinking there would be plenty of room for them to avoid each other and live separately.

Immediately after being placed into the aquarium the little Ocellaris swam toward the Gold Stripe’s anemone.  No other clownfish had ever been allowed near the anemone.   Larry feared for the male as he watched the Maroon approach, thinking that she was going to be her “rowdy Gold Stripe self.”  Much to his surprise and extreme relief the Gold Stripe not only allowed the Ocellaris to stay in the anemone, but she started “dancing” for him.  In Larry’s words “It was love at first sight.”

Within 3 months the pair was spawning regularly in the display tank.  The spawns were clearly viable and Larry was curious about how the offspring would look.  In December of 2012 we picked up the pair from Larry’s shop and now nearly a year later we have the results.

The Blood Orange Clownfish inherits desirable qualities from both parent species: large finnage of the Maroon and thick barring outlined with black from the Ocellaris.  The offspring exhibit hybrid vigor as well as a unique red color.

We have discovered several randomly produced Maroon x Ocellaris hybrids over the years, you can read about them in our Mystery Clownfish article but this is our first time intentionally raising them.  We know this combination is not unprecedented and has been produced by others in the past.  Proaquatix had offered, at one time, a similar fish, named the Cocoa Clown, which was a White Stripe Maroon crossed with a Darwin/Black Ocellaris.

At this point it’s not certain whether the stripes of the Blood Orange Clownfish will turn gold or not.  Their temperament seems to be somewhere between the Ocellaris and the Goldstripe Maroon, so care should be taken when choosing tankmates.  In our experience, these hybrids can and will attain a large size, almost the size of a full grown Maroon clown, if conditions are right.  They grow to be beautiful show specimens with large flowing fins and crisp, bright color.

Larry’s Odd Couple pair throws a combination of full-barred and mis-barred offspring with some varying amounts of black on the outlines of the stripes and fins.  We’ll look forward to hearing from store owners and hobbyists about the mature coloration on the adult fish.  We wish to sincerely thank Larry Lau from Eco Reef Aquarium for making it possible for us to bring this pair’s beautiful offspring to you.

Blood Orange Clownfish will be available at your favorite ORA retailer next week!  Be sure to check out the product page.