Bali Aquarich Unveils Latest Designer/Hybrid Clownfish

08 Jan, 2021

Continued mixing of species and mutated genes reveals ever more diversity in the basic patterning of designer clownfish

Hybridization between the Black Storm Ocellaris and the Picasso Percula Clownfish has yielded yet another exciting hybrid ornamental clownfish on the farm at Bali Aquarich in Indonesia. These latest images, courtesy of Bali Aquarich founder Wen-Ping Su, reveal the possibilities.

These fish are reportedly all siblings from the same parentage.
These fish are reportedly all siblings from the same parentage.

The base genetics of the Picasso Percula seem to be understood, although Wen-Ping Su notes that they have a large diversity of Picasso broodstock on the farm at Bali Aquarich, and each line carries unique, secondary traits that can influence the appearance of the offspring.

These two fish are siblings. What exactly does that mean?
These two fish are siblings. What exactly does that mean?

The genetics of a “Storm” clownfish are less clear, although the early breeding results out there seem to suggest that Storm is actually separate from the Davinci gene which drives the Fancy White/Davinci type Ocellaris clownfish (it also comes into play in the Wyoming White, which is likely the homozygous expression of the Davinci genetic).

Furthermore, “Storm” genetics appear to include both the stripe-altering base but also the “facemask.” Early indications from the breeding results I’ve seen reported suggest that perhaps the Storm gene is a dominant gene. That’s still speculation on my part, although others might know the answer. More data, research, and/or transparency are needed.

Another view of two siblings showing striking differences in pattern and coloration.
Another view of two siblings showing striking differences in pattern and coloration.

What we see, in this latest round of designer clownfish, is the mixture of multiple stripe altering genes and clearly across species lines. With the mating to Picasso Percula, there’s a clear mixture with Amphiprion percula and the Picasso gene. In the case of the siblings shown in these photos, could we be looking at offspring that carry either one or both genes?

More sibling views…what exactly is at play?

“It’s an interesting and complicated question,” says Su. Earlier photos of similar hybrid matings seem to reiterate outcomes that, in my opinion, suggest that we are seeing the “Storm” genetics in some offspring, and the interplay of “Storm” and “Picasso” in others, particularly the more highly patterned individuals.

As the domestication of clownfish progresses, it seems that intricacy of patterning is one of the main ornamental aesthetic pursuits at this time.
As the domestication of clownfish progresses, it seems that intricacy of patterning is one of the main ornamental aesthetic pursuits at this time.

Bali Aquarich is not releasing any of these fish to the aquarium trade at this time. Instead, we’re informed that these represent future broodstock. In the same manner, no official name has currently been bestowed on this latest hybrid mixture of clownfish genetics, although I would contend that there are at least two new genotypes, possibly more, and all would be deserving of proper naming so that other breeders could abide by the communal ethic of not giving the same thing multiple names.

That said, the mixtures in our domestic clownfish soup have become more complex. Will we reach a point where the genetics have become so complicated that we ultimately have captive strains so removed from the natural form that it would be impossible to trace them back to their origins? Have we already gotten there?

Are we looking at two genotypes here, the fish on the left carrying both the storm and picasso genes, the fish on the right only carrying the storm gene on a "Percularis" hybrid base? It might be impossible to know at this moment, but if the guess is right, both forms might be deserving of new names.
Are we looking at two genotypes here, the fish on the left carrying both the Storm and Picasso genes, the fish on the right only carrying the Storm gene on a “Percularis” hybrid base? It might be impossible to know at this moment, but if the guess is right, both forms might be deserving of new names.

I’m currently unaware of any other breeders pursuing this combination. Searches have not turned up any results on social media discussions, which would suggest this is the first public revelation what the mating of a Black Storm Ocellaris and Picasso Percula can produce.

Editors Note: an initial version of this story suggested that the “Mocha Storm” clownfish, a mixture of Black and Orange Ocellaris, was involved, and not the Black Storm. That stemmed from a miscommunication, and the story has been corrected to account for the correct parentage, as clarified by Wen-Ping Su.

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About the author

Matt Pedersen

Matt Pedersen is a Sr. Editor and Associate Publisher with Reef To Rainforest Media, LLC & CORAL Magazines, and is a Sr. Editor and Publishing Partner with Aquatic Media Press, LLC & AMAZONAS Magazine. Matt has kept aquariums for 38 years, has worked in most facets of the aquarium trade, is an active aquarist and fish breeder (both marine and freshwater), and was recognized with the 2009 MASNA Award as the MASNA Aquarist of the Year.

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