CORAL RARITIES: 3 New Clownfish Variants from Sea & Reef
25 Oct, 2018
Marine aquarium conventions are often a prime time to debut innovations, and the Marine Aquarium Conference of North America (MACNA) is often the venue where ornamental marine fish aquaculture companies choose to wow attendees and the industry at large with something they’ve never seen before. MACNA 2018, held in Las Vegas, Nevada, once again showcased several new captive-bred offerings, including three new clownfish variants from Sea & Reef Aquaculture, based in Franklin, Maine.
Sea & Reef’s Longfin Gene
Sea & Reef first announced the discovery of a longfin gene among their Darwin Black Clownfish in early 2014. The discovery occurred nearly simultaneously with the separate discovery of a similar mutation among orange Ocellaris Clownfish at Tennessee-based Sustainable Aquatics. Over the next 4 years, it has become apparent that these mutations, while similar, have some differences. “Longfin Clownfish are not new to the hobby, but our Longfin Clownfish have a much different look to them. They have long flowing fins with a rounded, more even margin. This sets them apart from the other longfin strain that displays jagged, stiff fins and uneven edges,” says Sea & Reef founder Soren Hansen.
Leveraging the discovery of a new gene can take some time, particularly when Sea & Reef reports that only 1% of the first generation offspring carried the new longfin gene. Enthusiasts of the longfin genetic from Sea & Reef have been forced to wait while Sea & Reef built up breeding stocks and improved yields until there are sufficient quantities available to commercialize the fish.
Nearly 5 years of patience will finally pay off as Sea & Reef is now releasing their first longfin variety to the public; Sea & Reef’s Longfin Black Ice Clownfish.The Black Ice is a popular domestic clownfish which may be familiar to some; it is the progeny of a mating between an Orange and a Black Ocellaris, carrying a Snowflake gene. Breeders in the Sea & Reef hatchery have recreated the combination with the addition of their longfin gene, resulting in an entirely new, multi-gene designer clownfish.
While the inheritance and expression of Sea & Reef’s unique longfin gene are not being disclosed, the Snowflake gene’s mechanics are better anticipated. There always is a percentage of offpsring in Snowflake breeding who simply appear as normal, 3-striped clownfish. This reality easily explains the simultaneous origination of Sea & Reef’s other new longfin Clownfish, the Longfin Mocha, the siblings and byproducts of the creation of the Longfin Black Ice Clownfish.
Another Storm on the Horizon
The “Storm” genetic is another Sea & Reef discovery which creates a white face mask within domesticated clownfish varieties. The originaly Black Storm remains one of the hottest designer clownfish in today’s market. Sea & Reef recently expanded the Storm line to include a Mocha variant, which should have been a tip of the hat towards their end game.
In late 2017, Reef Builder’s Jake Adams released a Photoshop-created image of a hypothetical “Orange Storm” Clownfish, predicting they’d be available in 2018 and causing quite a stir among clownfish enthusiasts who mistook the photo as an actual, live fish.
While Adam’s photo was a beautiful fabrication, his assessment and forecast were forward thinking. While Sea & Reef has yet to offer up any release date, the Orange Storm Clownfish now exists and was on display at MACNA 2018.
The creation of an actual orange-colored Storm Clownfish represents a lot of nose-to-the-grindstone breeding work. At MACNA, Hansen disclosed that it took multiple generations of back-crossing to orange Ocellaris clownfish to effectively breed out the black coloration inherited from the Black Ocellaris ancestry. The result is undeniable; it’s a vision now realized. And maybe in the not-t0o-distant future we won’t all that surprised if Sea & Reef debuts a “Longfin Orange Storm Clownfish”; it will likely just take a couple generations of putting the right fish together.