Yes, it is official.  With my helping hand, the Lightning Maroon is bolting from QT / Hospital and into a breeder net.  Not ideal, but I happen to agree with the advisers that the pros and cons of staying on my current course dictated a change.
Here’s the arguments for keeping the Lightning Maroon WITH the female, in hyposalinity.

  1. If the Lightning is still a male (I believe he is) then having the larger female puts social pressure on him to STAY male.
  2. well…that’s just it…that’s really the only direct “benefit” to keeping him in QT with the female.  That was the main reason they went into a dedicated healthy tank together, divided only for their own safety.

On the flipside, the cons are much greater.

  1. Continued contact with the female may result in an otherwise healthy Lightning Maroon getting sick.
  2. If in fact the Lightning is more a “subordinate female” at this point, then the continued slightly antagonistic interactions I’m seeing are only going to get worse.
  3. Leaving the fish in this hospital / qt situation at hypo may at this point be putting undue stress on an otherwise healthy fish

There are of course, RISKS associated with moving the fish.  The risks are actually quite substantial, but I believe I can sum it up like this.  People are more afraid of what they know than what they don’t know.

  1. Moving the fish from QT to an established tank presents stress with a rapid rising salinity change. Honestly, this was my biggest fear, regardless of what Joe Lichtenbert told me and regardless of the real rationalizations I made earlier this week.  It still scares the crap out of me to take a fish and double the salinity on it.  Well, I did just that earlier today on the 4 remaining fish in the OTHER QT system, and they are all alive and eating this evening.  Not saying that I condone this treatment in any way, only saying that experiences of multiple people are showing that a rapid salinity change in EITHER direction may not be as life-risking as we might normally be lead to believe.  That doesn’t excuse folks to just dump fish willy nilly as the consequences results could certainly be different (i.e. dead fish).  I can only say I am much more comfortable with the notion of doing this to a fish like the Lightning Maroon having first hand direct positive results in hand.
  2. Moving the fish into an existing tank means it’s going in a breeder net. Yes, that’s the case.  All my well established reefs have pairs of clowns in them already.  Adding the Maroon Clown directly to the tank would be beyond disruptive and life-threatening for all the parties involved.  So a breeder net is the only viable solution (unless I stole a grow out tank, which I DID think about).  Ultimately, the reality is that I have multiple clownfish happily inhabiting breeder nets, and in fact, I think my Vanuatu Pink Skunks PREFER having it (but they can come and go now as they please).  At any rate, the biggest risk is that the fish gets OUT of the breeder net.  I’ve had this happen, and the results were a shredded clownfish (that has since recovered well back in its net).  I’ll be doing whatever I can to prevent an escape.
  3. Moving the Lightning Maroon could introduce one or more diseases, including the Fin Rot and Cryptocaryon, to the destination tank. This is a very real concern.  The rationalization goes something like this.  The Lightning Maroon is outwardly healthy and happy.  So it is not likely directly diseased at this point.  The fish has been in treatment with Maracyn for 24 hours now, and that seems to have kept the Fin Rot at bay.  So it’s unlikely that would be transferred in as it’s not outwardly apparent on the Lighting Maroon.  There is a second part, the “what if”?  Well, IF this move causes a disease outbreak, first it’s important to consider that compared to the Lightning Maroon, every other fish in the destination tank is quite readily replaceable.  Yes, harsh to say the least, but the Lightning Maroon has to take precedence over the other fish.  It will be going into my SPS tank, which houses my most common broodstock.  Now, that said, I’m not that worried about ICH.  I may do a quick FW dip after acclimation is complete, one final “quick clean” before going in.  Might not.  Hard to say.  Need to research that concept.  Even if I don’t, honestly, I’m more worried about the Fin Rot.  Well…the FIN ROT can be treated IN THE REEF with Maracyn SW.  Yes, I am quite happy to say that Maracyn SW has proven itself to be quite reef safe.  It just makes your skimmer foam like mad (which drives people crazy).  But it doesn’t seem to kill your corals and inverts.  So, if push comes to shove, I could treat the destination reef with Maracyn SW.  Heck, I might even do so prophalactically.  But again…I don’t know yet.  I have to mull that over.  More likely I’ll just keep a very watchful eye on things.

So ultimately, the decision was made this afternoon and plans were put in motion.  As I mentioned, there were other options.  One consisted of removing the Female to another tank, possibly the growout tank I’ve been using for some Black Ocellaris batches.  Honestly, there’s 5 left, they don’t need a 10 gallon to themselves.  I MAY still do this.  The other possibility was already mentioned, moving the Lightning Maroon to this growout tank.  Honestly, I don’t like the tank’s stability as much as I like my reefs.  So when it came to my reefs, the only one I was willing to risk was the SPS tank…the other reefs have broodstock far more difficult to replace.  Early on, I did even suggest stealing the 6 gallon nano from my Black Ocellaris pair, but honestly, if I don’t NEED to do that, I’m not going to.  But I’m certainly taking a cue from them and thinking long term about a dedicated clown + nem tank for the Lightning Maroon and its mate.
Going on some earlier suggestions,  I lined up one of my RBTA clones (Red Bubble Tip Anemone) as well as 2 rather brown specimens from Underground Aquatics (thanks for the steal of a deal Jim).  The clown will not go into an empty breeder net, but one with a tile on the bttom as well as hosts.  The clown will have 3 small Bubble Tip Anemones (Entacmaea quadricolor) to host in – that way the clownfish won’t totally annoy any single specimen hopefully.  I should also mention that Bubble Tips are the only natural host for Maroon Anemonefish (Premnas biaculeatus).  I already acclimated the 2 from Jim’s place and they’re lookin’ good under the HQI lighting – hopefully I won’t bleach ’em out.
I must admit, this is NOT a victory in my book, but a defeat.   This is a retreat to safety.  It does make me feel as if I’ve given up confidence on the female Maroon as well, even though I haven’t.  But I will be making a few more adjustments this evening yet.  Pictures in the next update…acclimation is already underway.  Officially, by my refractometer, we are going from 1.012 / 16 ppt to 1.025 / 33 ppt.  It’s being done on a slow drip.