ORA Unleashes Zombie Clownfish on the Masses

29 Oct, 2019

ORA's commercial release of the Zombie Clownfish adds another designer mutation to mainstream availability. This is how they start out, a bright orange juvenile with gleaming red eyes.

ORA’s commercial release of the Zombie Clownfish makes another designer mutation available to the mainstream market. This is how they start out, as a bright orange juvenile with gleaming red eyes.

via ORA

ORA Zombie Clownfish are a thing. And yes, they’re weird and look like a living dead fish. Just in time for Halloween!

Like a fish that’s returned from the dead, the ORA Zombie Clownfish is truly one of the more unique strains of Black Ocellaris. These fish start out as neon orange juveniles with iridescent blood-red eyes. As they mature, ORA Zombie Clownfish display varying degrees of their parental Black Ocellaris pigment, with layers of smoky grey and neon orange splotches.

Intermediate coloration of a Zombie Clownfish as the fish starts to mature.

Intermediate coloration of a Zombie Clownfish as the fish starts to mature.

Their final form is something like a soggy ORA Black Ocellaris that swam up from the depths of the underworld, looking spectacularly like a living DOA.

ORA Zombie Clownfish - Final Form - the "Living DOA" of designer clownfish?

ORA Zombie Clownfish (final form), the “Living DOA” of designer clownfish?

Our broodstock descends from specimens ORA obtained from clownfish breeder Robert King.  Robert named these fish Zombies when he first spotted them in a batch he raised from two normal-looking wild-type Black Ocellaris parents.


Editor’s Notes:

Some initial Internet chatter has suggested that the Zombie clownfish are blind, but that is not the case. ORA notes that their visual acuity is reduced, however.

Also, take note, there is a second genetic addition in the work; Zombie albinos with the Snowflake gene. The combination of Snowflake and Zombie genetics means that only a very small percentage of the offspring currently fit this phenotype. No word yet on any release date for this fish, which ORA president Dustin Dorton said, “We don’t have a final name for them but have been calling them Snow Zombies. I call them White Walkers.” More varieties are the works.

Zombie clownfish with siblings that also carry the Snowflake gene. What would you call these new and very rare variants?

Zombie clownfish with siblings that also carry the Snowflake gene. What would you call these new and very rare variants?

Additional Reading:

ORA product page for the Zombie Clownfish – https://www.orafarm.com/product/zombie-clownfish/

The original discovery of the Black Zombie Albino Ocellaris, some seven years ago, as reported on Reef Builders.

During the summer of 2019, briefly labeled as “Zombie” Clowns, the mystery was unraveled as we obtained insights on what we now know as the Moonlight Clownfish, unrelated to the true Zombie lineage that ORA is now producing.

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About the author

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Reef To Rainforest

Reef to Rainforest Media, LLC is the publisher of award-winning magazines and books in the fields of aquarium keeping, aquatics, and marine science. It is the English-language publisher of CORAL Magazine and is based in Shelburne, Vermont, USA.


  1. November 01, 2019

    I feel it is pathetic that your publication covers these man made clownfish abominations. Just in time for Halloween, really? I will not be renewing my subscription.

    • Avatar photo
      November 06, 2019

      Orlando, I used to share a viewpoint like yours, but over time, with better understanding, that changed.

      I feel personally compelled to point out that the “Zombie” albino gene was discovered in Darwin Blacks that probably, given their age, were actually wild-caught or possibly F1 from wild-caught fish…about as pure of a Black Ocellaris as one could muster. This is one gene, and mutations like this are rather *normal* and also easily understood and controlled in a breeding scenario. While the insertion of the “Snowflake” gene, which comes from Orange Ocellaris lines, would be considered a hybridization event by some, that largely depends on whether you agree with the current taxonomic state of the Darwin population which is, currently, treated as A. ocellaris.

      I’m hard-pressed to think of fishes like these as abominations given that I’m personally responsible for bringing the Lightning Maroon into cultivation…which was a gene discovered in the wild, and observed there at least twice. You should check out CORAL, Volume 11, Issue 5 – WILD CLOWNS – as I went to great lengths to catalog the many genetic mutations known in our clownfish, and to provide a deeper understanding of what’s really at play here. You certainly don’t have to like the aesthetic, but it’s not as if you can’t go buy a regular Black Ocellaris if that’s your taste preference. https://portal.publishersserviceassociates.com/carts/reef2rainforest/index.php?route=product/product&path=35&product_id=120

  2. November 02, 2019

    @Orlando, Please remember that your pet dog, cat, bird, along with the meat, fruit, and vegetables in your kitchen are ALL manmade. Another variation of clownfish isn’t really something to upset about. As for not renewing your membership, you will be missing out on a lot of great information.

  3. November 09, 2019

    While it’s ok to have different opinions – listen and respond, share the knowledge. I think going out of your way to publicly shame someone for not renewing their membership puts a dent into your credibility. I rarely leave any comments as everyone is entitled to their views, your response to Orlando hit a nerve!

  4. November 09, 2019

    My apologies…I should have read all the messages in entirety before leaving my comment.
    I didn’t realize Orlando voluntarily chose not to renew his membership and wrote about it. I assumed
    Jeff shared Orlando’s personal info to the readers..Sorry, Jeff!

  5. November 10, 2019

    I suppose it’s a nifty experiment to make fish like these, but to mass produce half-blind fish is just cruel & stupid beyond measure. Congratulations; you’ve created the Red Parrot Cichlid of the Clownfish world.

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      November 14, 2019

      Trey, I believe you’re making a false equivalency between the “Parrot Cichlid” and this fish. The Parrot Cichlid is a hybrid between at least two rather disparate cichlid species, which features numerous physical deformations, although nothing nearly as severe as something like a Bubble Eye or Celestial Eye Goldfish. Meanwhile, this “Zombie” Black Albino started as pure Darwin Black Ocellaris; the original foundation stock simply had a hidden recessive gene. This is a single gene mutation, which can easily be understood and controlled by any breeder who understands high-school level genetics. Nevermind that forms of albinism are rather routine mutation found in the wild on occasion, and even in our human species.

  6. November 10, 2019

    I don’t have a problem with the production of new color strains through selective breeding. I prefer to own the wild types, but that’s just me. But I agree that the propagation of fish with known health concerns is irresponsible and casts a shadow over the hobby. We already don’t know what other health problems some of these mutants may have involving systems that are not externally evident (e.g., immunological issues, skeletal malformations), or if their life spans might be adversely affected. This is similar to knowingly breeding deaf Dalmatians for profit.

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