The surprising possibilities of a GoldXLightning Maroon

Designer Clownfish popularity remains strong, with surges of interest each time a new variety is announced to hobbyists. To date, most tinkering of clownfish genetics has occurred within the Amphiprion percula and ocellaris complex, but the way things are panning out for ORA, there will be some exciting developments coming from Premnas biaculeatus before long.

Historically ORA has avoided the crossing of White Stripe and Gold Stripe Maroons (Percula and Ocellaris as well) because it doesn’t result in offspring that “improve” upon their parents.  However, the Lightning Maroon piqued our interest and we were excited to see what the results of a Gold Nugget cross would be. We haven’t been the only ones curious about this combination, as other aquarists are also working with this same cross.

Our first successful pairing was a Lightning Maroon male crossed to a Gold Nugget female.  As expected, the first generation of offspring displayed a huge degree of variation in the patterns, many of them are reminiscent of Premium Goldflake Maroons with a few important differences: the markings are usually more symmetrical on each side and many have several holes in the white areas.  We also see fish that have nearly solid white flanks and appear to have some Lightning like spangles.  In addition to these two desirable traits we get a number of fish with a traditional Gold Dot type pattern and regular, three striped Maroon Clowns.

Looking at the first couple of batches, there seems to be about 6 distinct phenotypes or grades present within the group, with some variation present within each grade. It is uncertain to what degree, if at all, these fish will develop the gold color transformation characteristic of their Gold Nugget mother.

These new Designer Clowns are undeniably attractive and unique.  Some will certainly grow to be highly coveted collector specimens.  However, this is our first step towards producing new, exciting variants of Maroon clownfish.  Many of the fish from these first few batches do not display the characteristic clownfish conformation we strive for.  Because of the considerable inconsistency, the uncertainty of what the fish will look like as they age or what we’re dealing with exactly in terms of genetics, we’ve decided for now to refrain from using or establishing trade names for each of the apparent phenotypes or grades.  Instead, we’re dubbing all patterned fish from this first cross as ORA GoldXLightning Maroons and keeping track of their normal-barred siblings.  We have already begun setting up new pairs with our first generation GoldXLightings and have plans to implement some linebreeding in an attempt to reliably produce the more desirable phenotypes. Additionally, we’ll also be backcrossing to each of the parent strains to see if we can achieve some even more extreme varieties.  With each successive generation, we will be providing hobbyists with an increasingly refined ORA Designer Clownfish, at which point we may deem the strains that breed true as name-worthy.  If a name already exists for a particular phenotype we will adopt it.

We have a lot of work ahead of us and we can’t wait for you to be a part of it!  You can see more photos of these fish on the product page here.

If Designer Clownfish aren’t your thing, don’t worry, we still raise all the wild types just for you!


Lightning Strikes at ORA

The wait is over!  Lightning Maroons are now available from ORA! If you’ve been waiting for the perfect centerpiece pair of clownfish for your home aquarium, ask for the ORA Lightning Maroon. Now available nationwide at an aquarium store near you. Need help finding our fish locally? Give us a call!

This spectacular designer clownfish is unlike any other variety out there. Its white stripes appear as a crack of lightning across its intense maroon flanks. This is truly a fish that only gets better as it matures. You’ve waited long enough, bring home your ORA Lightning Maroon today!

Check out the product page here for more information.


Epaulette Shark Pups Now Available

ORA Epaulette Shark pups are a new addition to the growing list of ORA aquacultured fish. The Epaulette Shark, Hemiscyllium ocellatum, is a benthic shark species with a beautiful spotted pattern and a characteristic pair of large spots above their pectoral fins. This conspicuous marking resembles the shoulder décor used on military uniforms to signify rank, lending the “epaulette” term to their common name.  Adults reach a maximum size of 42 inches, making them an excellent choice for advanced aquarists looking to keep a shark.

Native to the shallow reefs of Northern Australia and New Guinea, this shark species has evolved extraordinary adaptations to survive the harsh, fluctuating environment of tide pools and coral flats. As the tide goes out and isolated pools of water form, the Epaulette shark exploits their confines as easy hunting grounds. In a motion similar to land based amphibians, Epaulettes can use their paired pectoral and pelvic fins as arms and legs to maneuver around coral and rock formations. They can also tolerate high temperatures and very low oxygen levels as exposed tide pools become increasingly more inhospitable.

We consider the Epaulette Shark to be an expert only animal. They must be provided with a low stress environment with limited disruption, an easy to consume diet with multivitamin supplementation and excellent water quality. Despite their relative small size and relaxed disposition, a full sized Epaulette will need to be housed in a tank with a minimum size of 200 gallons and carefully chosen tank mates. We strongly urge anyone looking to keep a shark to thoroughly research the species prior to purchase. This is a long term commitment!

Our Epaulette parents arrived at ORA in 2013 as large juveniles and took several years to reach sexual maturity. First housed in a 15 foot round fiberglass tank with coarse sand substrate, they were given even more space as they continued to grow and now reside in a 15 foot by 25 foot raceway with sand and structures for shelter. They eat a large quantity of vitamin enriched squid and shrimp three times per week.

Check out the species profile page for more info and photos.


ORA Gladiators Now Available

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 first fish we found with the Gladiator type pattern at ORA.
The first fish we found with the Gladiator type pattern at ORA.

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.

Our fish are available in Gladiator and Premium Gladiator grades. Check out the product pages to learn more.

Update 1/23/2017ORA Wyoming Whites now available.

Success! Our First Ruby Red Dragonets

Behold! The first aquacultured Ruby Red Dragonets from ORA!  We are excited to announce our progress with this strikingly beautiful fish as we work to bring them into commercial production. Did you know that this is a new species that has yet to be named by taxonomists? Since their initial introduction to the aquarium hobby just over three years ago, this bright red fish has been simply known as Synchiropus sp. or the Ruby Red Dragonet. However, they are often misidentified as Red Scooter Dragonets (Synchiropus stellatus) or Moyers Dragonets (Synchiropus moyeri), both completely different species.

As this is only our first batch of true Ruby Red Dragonets, we still have a lot to learn and a long way to go before they will be available for sale.  Here is what we do know:

This species does not spawn as frequently, or produce eggs in the quantities that its Regular and Red Scooter counterparts do.  Additionally, the larvae are smaller and develop slower. In spite of these exciting challenges, we are confident we will be able to get them into commercial production in late 2016 or early 2017.

In the meantime please enjoy our other wonderfully charming Dragonet species. You can read more about them HERE.


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