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Old 07/15/2003, 03:57 PM   #1
JHardman
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Post Pairing Clownfish

One of the most common questions on RC is “how do I pair clownfish”. Pairing clownfish can be a troublesome thing to do or very easy to do. Here are a few things that might help you in this task.

1) You need to understand clownfish sex change and how that effects pairing and interaction. Please refer to http://reefcentral.com/forums/showth...hreadid=215088 page for sexing FAQ. For further information.

a. Briefly, clownfish are protandrous hermaphrodites. They are hatched as sexually immature fish. Based on signals from their environment and being physically mature (12-24 months) they will either remain sexually immature, change into a male or change into a male then female. This is a one way trip, sexless to male never to be sexless again and male to female never to be male again.

b. A clownfish kept by its self will become a female in a short period of time if it is physically mature, in as little as a month.

2) Two female clowns will fight. The tell tale sign that you have two females is fighting ending in the two locking their mouths together.

Clownfish pairing techniques:
There are a couple of proven techniques to pair same species of clownfish. Mixing species of clownfish should be avoided and has very limited long term (multi-year) success (only one case that I know of and could be considered unsuccessful as at least one clownfish was killed by another clownfish in the tank).

Grow out technique:
With this technique two small juvenile clownfish are purchased at the same time and introduced into the tank at the same time. The fish will establish a dominate submissive relationship as they mature and eventually form a pair bond. This technique works the vast majority of the time.

Notes: Since the fish are going to fight and/or chase each other to establish who is the dominate fish and who is the submissive fish, it will often speed the pairing process and reduce fighting and potential damage to the fish by getting one of the two juveniles larger than the other.

This technique should not be applied to Premnas species (maroon) clownfish.

Add a new clownfish to an existing clownfish technique:
With having an existing clownfish in your tank adding a new clownfish to form a pair can be a little harder or in other words more dangerous to the new fish. The technique is basically the same as the grow out technique. You will want to find a small juvenile clownfish and add it to the tank with the existing tank. By getting a small juvenile fish you are not risking possible sex compatibility problems, e.g. two females.

Example: Existing 3” A. Ocellaris clownfish that has been in the tank by it’s self for over a year. We can assume this fish is a female based on size, age and environment. A ¾” to 1 ½” juvenile from a community tank is added to the tank. The vast majority of the time the new fish will submit to the existing fish with little or no fighting at all.

This technique should not be applied to Premnas species (maroon) clownfish.

Paring Premnas species clownfish (maroon clownfish):
Pairing maroon clowns is much more problematic than pairing Amphiprion species clownfish. Maroons are notorious for being very aggressive towards other clownfish. They are pretty much fearless and will only back down from an all out fight when presented with the overwhelming threat of death.

Separation Technique:
The only technique I am aware of that works the vast majority of the time with the least amount of damage as possible to use a separation and slow acclimation process to introduce a poetical mate to a maroon clownfish.

First you need to have a large female already established in your tank before trying a pairing. The clownfish should be at least 3” from nose to start of the cardinal fin. Next you will need to do a little preparation before buying a potential mate for your maroon. You need something to securely separate the two fish in the same tank while still allowing the fish to see each other and the new fish to get water flow. You can use a clear plastic specimen container with holes drilled in it for example.

Now go to the LFS and find the smallest juvenile maroon from a community tank that you can find. It should be no larger than 1” nose to start of cardinal fin. Acclimate the new maroon just as you would any other fish. Once the new maroon is acclimated to your tanks water, place the new maroon in the specimen container. Let the two fish see each other, place the specimen container near the females territory. Carefully watch the female’s behavior. If she is trying to attack the new fish thru the container, it is not safe to release the new maroon. Give her time to cool off from the disruption to her tank and addition of a foreign clownfish in her tank.

Now that the female has cooled her temper it is time to try an introduction. Get your favorite fish net ready and release the new maroon to the tank. If the fighting gets too bad you will need to rescue the new maroon and place it back in the container and try the next day. If after three failed attempts you can write off the new maroon as incompatible and you will need a new juvenile to try with.

Submissive behavior in clownfish:
As a part of pairing you need to know what submissive behavior is. You will know that you are well on your way to a successful pairing when one fish submits to the other fish. This is especially important behavior to observe in maroon clownfish.

Amphiprion and Premnas species submissive behavior goes something like this… First the dominate fish will rush or otherwise attack the submissive fish. The submissive fish will turn sideways to the dominate fish and tilt its belly towards the dominate fish and quiver like an epileptic seizure. The female should recognize this behavior and stop the attack short of actual damage. Sometimes in new pairings and old well established pair bonds the dominate fish will move to a parallel position to the submissive and quiver back to the submissive fish.

In Premnas species there is an additional submissive behavior that is unique to maroons. When the submissive fish is rushed or otherwise attacked it/he will duck the attack, slip to the side of the female and tenderly kiss her cheek spines and pectoral fins of his beloved female.

Signs that you have a pair bond in your clownfish:
There are a couple of signs that a pair bond has formed and is maturing in your clownfish in addition to submissive behavior. Typically mated pairs (pairs that have a pair bond) will sleep in the same area. They will also host in the same host or stay in the same territory if there is no natural host present. The two fish will stay close to each other the vast majority of the time.

The pair bond is a developing thing. It starts out as a general acceptance of each other. Then slowly develops into a closer relationship were both fish are together most of the time. There is a bickering phase too where the female will make sure the male knows who is the boss. During this time it is not uncommon to find the poor little dejected male cowering near their normal host/territory. But don’t worry this is normal and the male will be accepted back sooner or later. The ultimate end of the pair bond is seen in a spawning event such as nest cleaning or laying of eggs.

References; Clownfishes by Joyce Wilkerson, Anemonefishes by Dr. Gerald Allen, Conditioning spawning and rearing of fish with emphasis on marine clownfish by Dr. Frank Hoff.


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Old 07/15/2003, 04:45 PM   #2
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Sticky on this one too.


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Old 07/15/2003, 05:02 PM   #3
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JHardman

Thanks for sharing your personal experience. Seem like you got this whole thing master.

Jimmy


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Old 07/15/2003, 06:33 PM   #4
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Awesome job on that .... as only a Rare Clownfish Freak can do I guess! I learned a couple of extra tid bits I didn't know. It's great having those info pieces brought together like that to put things in perspective. I had to print that one out for keeping. Thanks.


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Old 07/16/2003, 01:38 PM   #5
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hmmm... That sounds pretty good, but after reading the linked post and this, I am wondering

1) If with two hosts, one could have both regular and black oscellaris? (I know you say to have more than one kind, but I am confused on the differences between a black and a regular)

2) Will a male/female pair form if there are more than just two clowns in the tank (of the same type)?

3) If you do have 3+ clows (say all oscellaris) will they all share the same host? if it was big enough, of course?

Thanks!

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Old 07/16/2003, 02:01 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally posted by chicorodriguez
hmmm... That sounds pretty good, but after reading the linked post and this, I am wondering

1) If with two hosts, one could have both regular and black oscellaris? (I know you say to have more than one kind, but I am confused on the differences between a black and a regular)

2) Will a male/female pair form if there are more than just two clowns in the tank (of the same type)?

3) If you do have 3+ clows (say all oscellaris) will they all share the same host? if it was big enough, of course?

Thanks!

- CR
1) There are very few cases of long term success with keeping multiple pairs of clowns. The one case that I am most familiar with has been running for about 5 years and to date has only had one fish killed. I don't recommend trying it; it is very rare that it works out long term. Remember clowns can live for decades.

The difference between black A. Ocellaris and orange A. Ocellaris is just that, one is primarily black and the other orange. They are the same species of clownfish.

2) Yes a pair will form. However it takes considerably longer and may result in much more fighting and damage especially to the odd man out fish.

3) Depends on the fish. If all added at the same time the chances are better.

HTH


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Old 07/16/2003, 02:13 PM   #7
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This is wonderful. I did the two juvenile method for my ocellaris, and they are now spawning regularly. Now I'll know where to point people who want to pair Premnas.


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Old 07/16/2003, 02:26 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally posted by mogurnda
This is wonderful. I did the two juvenile method for my ocellaris, and they are now spawning regularly. Now I'll know where to point people who want to pair Premnas.
Love the avatar! I wish they hadn't canceled the series. It would have been really nice if someone like ShowTime or HBO would have picked it up...


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Old 07/16/2003, 02:45 PM   #9
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I wish they hadn't canceled the series.
Me too, although the 4th season was kind of lame. The first two seasons were truly brilliant.


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Old 07/18/2003, 07:23 AM   #10
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JHardman, thanks for the information. can I assume then, that you could have a black and an orange A. Ocellaris in the same tank? would they pair?

- CR



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Old 07/18/2003, 11:04 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally posted by chicorodriguez
JHardman, thanks for the information. can I assume then, that you could have a black and an orange A. Ocellaris in the same tank? would they pair?

- CR
Pretty likely since they are the same species. Just use the techniques I talk about above and you should be fine.


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Old 07/19/2003, 11:49 AM   #12
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Stuck to the top.


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Old 07/22/2003, 03:02 PM   #13
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I have been toying with the idea of getting a pair of true percs and trying to breed them in my 100g. They would be the only fish in the tank (x-cept 4 snails, maybe zenia & sand sifting stars.). Could you give me some advice on how I should start or direct me to a site that I can really read up on this first?

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Old 07/22/2003, 03:10 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally posted by MPA
I have been toying with the idea of getting a pair of true percs and trying to breed them in my 100g. They would be the only fish in the tank (x-cept 4 snails, maybe zenia & sand sifting stars.). Could you give me some advice on how I should start or direct me to a site that I can really read up on this first?

Thank's...
If you would start a new thread on the subject as it is a complex subject that goes well beyond the scope of this post. I am sure others besides myself will be glad to reply.


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Old 07/22/2003, 04:44 PM   #15
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I was considering getting getting a second ocellaris for my current one that's been in my tank a while (well, six months). The thing is that I only have a 30 gal. tank. I know that ocellaris can be more peaceful than others (clowns), but do you think that would work, or should the clown be left alone?
Also, I have in there a huge (at least 12" not even fully opened) BTA that the clown hosts in. I don't know whether the size of the host affects pairing chances, but might it, and if so, for good or for worse?

Also, not very related, as soon as the clown startes hosting, he ( or I guess I should say she) started darkening in color. Is this a normal side effect of hosting, because I have noticed that all the hosting clowns at the LFS are darker.


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Old 07/22/2003, 04:51 PM   #16
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Since you're getting a "second" ocellaris, I assume that the first is also an ocellaris. So the "pairing" rules apply, and should be easy.

As to the coloration, fish go through stages in life and change barring and coloration through the stages. Much like my gray hair and wrinkles now that I'm 7 years old versus when I was three (yesterday)

It could be from hosting, but I think it is more of growing up.


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Old 07/30/2003, 07:03 PM   #17
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I'm glad to see this got a sticky. John did a great job on this post





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Old 08/10/2003, 12:00 PM   #18
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can anyone breed one fem. reg.oscellaris and one male black oscellaris together if someone can what do they look like


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Old 08/17/2003, 11:21 AM   #19
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I basically used the Separation Technique to introduce my smaller GB Maroon to my larger one. It started as a move I had to make due to moving some tanks around. I had to put him in the tank with my established female and built a large rock wall so as not to have them finding each other right off the bat. They both had their own anemone and stayed very close to them. I figured this would pretty much keep them apart for awhile. After about a week I had to move a rock in the tank and they saw one another!

Thats pretty much it, the submission began and I eventually (a few days later) moved his BTA over to the area they are living in now. She made him sleep on a rock ledge for about 2 days before she let him anywhere near her anemone. I felt sorry for the little fellow. LOL. I find them sleeping together in her anemone. I notice that she feeds both anemones where as he doesn't feed either one.

It was a very interesting night watching this submissive behavior.
I watched them carefully for several hours that night to make sure she wasn't going to kill him. But I could tell right off that she was going to be ok with the situation. I have seen other clowns not accept one another and they totally go after them as though they are going to kill or really show distast for them being near. If you have seen anyone try to pair clowns more than once you will know what I mean (especially maroons).

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Old 08/21/2003, 06:52 AM   #20
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A fellow recently posted to my saltwater list that it was ok to put a "school' of clowns (>5) into a tank all at once and that one the female and male were established that the others would be ok.
Is this true? I just need to be sure before I try to respond to him further. (I asked for a reference to support his thought.)
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Old 08/21/2003, 12:41 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally posted by Tagamet
A fellow recently posted to my saltwater list that it was ok to put a "school' of clowns (>5) into a tank all at once and that one the female and male were established that the others would be ok.
Is this true? I just need to be sure before I try to respond to him further. (I asked for a reference to support his thought.)
Tagamet
In the short term yes it will work. In the long term, in a confined environment, it may result in problems. In the wild, clownfish form hierarchies with a mature breeding pair and lower ranking sexless fish. The lower ranking fish will try to promote themselves sooner or later. This is not a problem within the ranks of the sexless fish, however when a member of the breeding pair is challenged, the challenger will either succeed by driving off or killing it's rival, or it will fail in its challenge and be driven off or killed. And this is where it can become a problem in a confined tank environment, no place to be driven off to...

Something that so many people forget about when they start thinking about doing a hierarchy of clowns. Clownfish can live for decades and having a more or less peaceful hierarchy for a few months or even a couple of years is no great measure of success considering these fish can live 10-30 years.

I have yet to hear of any credible stories of long term successes in keeping a hierarchy in anything less than a public aquarium sized tank. I am not saying it is not possible, but so far no one has stepped up and said “I have six A. whatever_species of clownfish in the same tank for five years without any deaths or stress related disease outbreaks”.


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Old 08/21/2003, 01:22 PM   #22
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Jhardman,
Thanks so much for the reply. I'll cut and paste it off to the list.

On a VERY happy note, I just got an email notifying me that the bonded pair of tank raised, adult Clarkii clowns I ordered from ORA are in Pittsburgh, where I'll pick them up this weekend. They have spawned twice already at ORA, so I'm really stoked! It's only an 8 hour drive from my place to Pittsburgh and back, so they'll only have a 4 hour "ride" to get to their new home.
Tagamet


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Old 08/21/2003, 01:30 PM   #23
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Sweet thread...... Thank you


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Old 08/21/2003, 08:32 PM   #24
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JHardman

Quote:
Originally posted by Tagamet
Jhardman,
On a VERY happy note, I just got an email notifying me that the bonded pair of tank raised, adult Clarkii clowns I ordered from ORA are in Pittsburgh, where I'll pick them up this weekend. They have spawned twice already at ORA, so I'm really stoked! It's only an 8 hour drive from my place to Pittsburgh and back, so they'll only have a 4 hour "ride" to get to their new home.
Tagamet
UhOh! Now I'm hearing that the clowns are huge. The female is 4 inches and the male 3 inches. I was going to use a 40 gallon tank as their love nest. Now I'm wondering if that will be large enough. I have a 58 and a 120 I could use, but those tanks would be far less manageable than the 40. Do you think that I can get away with using the 40 with a 20 sump, or will this be too small? Would there be any drawback to trying them in the 40 and moving them to a larger tank if they don't spawn?
TIA,
Tagamet


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Old 08/21/2003, 08:48 PM   #25
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Re: JHardman

Quote:
Originally posted by Tagamet
UhOh! Now I'm hearing that the clowns are huge. The female is 4 inches and the male 3 inches. I was going to use a 40 gallon tank as their love nest. Now I'm wondering if that will be large enough. I have a 58 and a 120 I could use, but those tanks would be far less manageable than the 40. Do you think that I can get away with using the 40 with a 20 sump, or will this be too small? Would there be any drawback to trying them in the 40 and moving them to a larger tank if they don't spawn?
TIA,
Tagamet
You should be fine with the 40g. The place you got them from likely had them in a 20g cube before they sold them to you. The important part is being able to keep the water parameters up, which you should be able to do with 60g volume, all that LR you have in the sump and a good skimmer.


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