Life Altering Chaos…light getting stuck by lightning!
I’ve been scrambling, working overtime, and bottom line, the timing of this opportunity couldn’t have been worse.  But you can’t really pick when Steven Paul is going to find and collect a unique Papua New Guinea Maroon Clownfish (Premnas biaculeatus), let alone when it’s going to be offered to you.
It’s going to take a couple weeks to get the project website up and running, heck, being an interactive software developer I figured this project was a great excuse to learn to use WordPress.   Forgive me for anything you don’t like about the website, but do speak up.  Be a harsh critic, it will make me a better developer.
Anyone who knows anything about Clownfish breeding knows that we’re on their timetable, and that timetable is often measured in years.   And yet, the entire notion of The Lightning Project was conceived and blessed in 48 hours over email, internet and Fed Ex, all in the name of just sharing my ideas on what I would do IF I were to be the one to own such a fish, never thinking I would.  Lightning has struck in the Pedersen aquariums.
A Platform, A Pulpit, and a Roundtable
Perhaps the most exciting aspect of the Lightning Maroon Clownfish is that the anticipated waiting game gives project contributors and advisors the opportunity and excuse to discuss a myriad of issues ranging from sustainable collection and fair trade to clownfish genetics and the general direction of captive breeding efforts.  No doubt, some will take my decision to be a steward of the Lightning Maroon as a very hypocritical endeavor given my anti-hybrid, anti-guppification stance pertaining to marine fish breeding.  Nothing stirs dialog like a good bit of controversey, right?  Ultimately, it will all be put thrown to the wall, and we’ll see what sticks.  Perhaps the greatest thing that the Lighting Maroon might do is not produce more Lightning Maroons, but act as a magnet and bullhorn for dialog about a more responsible, sustainable, and ethical Marine Aquarium Industry.  Perhaps we may find a better path than whatever one we’re currently on.
A Humble Approach to “The Project” – Let’s Be Realistic

It is my hope to give periodic updates on our little Ambassador from PNG and SEASMART as he (or she?) settles into a new life in captivity.  I will spare no detail, explain my thinking, answer questions, solicit 2nd and 42nd opinions, and document it all.  In this manner, whether the actual goal is achieved, many ancillary benefits will come from this exercise.
Working with something so exceedingly new and rare has been a very thrilling and terrifying prospect, and arguably this is far more responsibility than one lone hobbyist probably should be handed.  While I’ve tackled arguably far more difficult projects, I’ve recognized the simple truth that if things do not go well, my legacy in the aquarium hobby could go from being “the guy who was first to captive breed Harlequin Filefish” to “the guy who killed the Lightning Maroon”.  But, advice that put my mind at ease came from none other than cowboy fishkeeper and outspoken aquarist Jake Adams, who said “Don’t regret the things you try, only regret the things you don’t try.”  Spoken like a true instigator Mr. Adams!
Ultimately it is an honor to have been considered and ultimately accepted as the individual to take charge of this fascinating fish.  It is my opinion that on technical and experiential merits, there were many people far more qualified.  It is my understanding that technical merit was not the ONLY consideration at play when decisions were made.  For what it’s worth, I will be inviting my most trusted breeding colleagues to contribute and function as advisers to the project.  I hope that any jealousies or resentments would be quickly dispelled when the full premise of the project is laid out before them.
Many times now, I’ve considered the reality that hobbyist failures are just as important, if not more so, than successes.  Knowing I have MANY failures in my past breeding efforts, far outweighing my successes, I’ve ultimately decided that 100% transparency in this project, even at the risk of public failure, will still be worth it.  History may decide whether the decisions that brought this fish to me were wise, but regardless, we ALL can learn something from this project.
Always Grateful and In Debted

Finally,  I owe thanks to many people and businesses for this opportunity.  Ret Talbot & Mark Martin, thank YOU for never tiring of the constant communication as we worked this out.  Thanks to the people who put Ret in PNG in the first place!  Steven Paul, thank you for collecting the fish!  Pacific Aqua Farms, SEASMART, and Blue Zoo Aquatics, even Fed Ex, thanks for handling this fish with exceptional care in bringing this fish from the ocean to my home!  Thanks to Jake Adams for your personal cheerleading, and Joe Lichtenbert, for being one of the first Breeding Advisors I knew I could bring into the fold immediately for advice and a second opinion on everything I might do!  Thanks to those people (including Clint Manchester 😉 ) who snapped up the fish I offered for sale at a moment’s notice, so I had the funds and tankspace to commit to this adventure.  There will be many, many people to tank in the future, and there are probably already many people I owe gratitude to that I may never ever know.  The best I can offer is my pledge to be above board, and to do my very best to not let you down!
Thank you to all who believe in me and my abilities, I am truly humbled and do not believe for a moment that  I was the ONLY “best choice” for this project.  I will be inviting many other people to advise me.
A Parting Thought from a Benevolent Dictator
Ultimately, this IS my project now, my work, and I’ll be calling the shots.  But I realize that this isn’t about “me”.  This isn’t just my fish, it’s the hobby’s fish, the industry’s fish, Blue Zoo Aquatic’s Fish, Pacific Aqua Farm’s fish, SEASMART’s Fish, Steven Paul’s fish, Papua New Guinea’s fish and before that, good ‘ole Mother Nature’s fish.   I will have a lot of people to answer to if I don’t consistently give this project my best.  Therefore, this is not “my” project,  this is OUR project.  The power of positive thinking has truly fueled some of the accomplishments I’m most proud of, please send all well wishes, good vibes, and extra karma to the SEASMART PNG Ambassador now swimming in my basement.