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Mission Madagascar Complete!

By Ross DeAngelis - Posted Jun 25, 2015 09:00 AM
Beautiful captive-bred Madagascar clownfish are finally available in the marine aquarium hobby! From consistently eating their own eggs to now laying batches one on top of the other, the broodstock pair has come full circle in their spawning behavior.
Mission Madagascar Complete!

A healthy group of hand-selected Madagascar Clownfish offsprings

Rare clownfish aren’t for everyone, but if you are into the classic clownfishes of the world then it should be exciting news to know that the Madagascar clownfish (Amphiprion latifasciatus) is finally available in the aquarium trade!

When the pair was initially received, the pair bond was in a precarious situation. While in their 30g quarantine, the large female became waspish, and the pair bond was in a dire need of some partnership adjustments. With high intrapair aggression - the male with damaged fins and the female with a swollen left eye - they forced their move from quarantine more quickly then initially planned. After a short (but painful) freshwater bath in a myriad of medications, they were placed into their current home tank where they remain as the only fish inhabitants alongside a large colony of bubble tip anemones.

Photo of male caring for eggs
Photo of male caring for eggs
Surprisingly, following the tank transition the pair immediately displayed affiliative behaviors towards one another, and all injuries quickly healed. Within less than four months the pair was spawning. The first several batches were small, laid on the rockwork with the male consistently eating the eggs. Some of these first few offspring were collected, but the effort was very high and the number of offspring very low. Finally, they began spawning on tiles that were placed in the aquarium. This makes it much easier to collect the larvae. Instead of waiting around all night with a larval trap and a flashlight, you can simply place the tile into a 5g aquarium with a steady stream of air bubbles to hatch the eggs.

And WOW! This pair is prolific in laying eggs. Like clockwork they lay eggs every seven days, the new batch right on top of the old batch ready to hatch that night. In a facility with over 40 spawning pairs of clownfish, none lay larger batches nor spawn more frequently then these Madagascar clownfish!

A new batch of eggs laid right next to previous batch!
A new batch of eggs laid right next to previous batch!

The Madagascar clownfish is a beautiful fish that has not yet been widely available in the hobby. This fish has large white stripes (second in size only to A. latezonatus) bright yellow fins, a dark brown to black body, and as adults an incredible forked tail. While the crazed designer clownfishes certainly deserve their place in the trade, physical characteristics are often overlooked. Body shape, overbites, gill malformities, and others, appear more prevalent in these designer forms. Whether that is due to selection of specific color patterns irrespective of other poor physical qualities, or a consequence of successive inbreeding is unclear. The offspring of this Madagascar pair have been all hand selected to represent the haplotype of the species and many poor quality specimens have been culled. Most importantly considered are body shape, striping and color pattern; great care has been taken so that these fish are of the highest quality possible.

With others also working to breed this rare species, a solid gene pool should be available for long term healthy bred captive populations to maintain. Currently, there are two Madagascar clownfish available on eBay; these will be followed by a few other releases with a larger partnership is in place to move them in mass to various aquariums and hobbyists around the country.

Author: Ross DeAngelis
Location: llinois

I have been an avid reef aquarium enthusiast since 2005. All aspects of reef keeping interest me, however, it is clownfish and their host sea anemones that brought me into the hobby and led to my research career at the University of Illinois

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