So this afternoon, something rather unexpected happened.  The Labrador Maroon’s ovipositor was down.  I’ve NEVER seen it down before.  It is still down hours later tonight.

Labrador Maroon with ovipositor extended

Labrador Maroon with ovipositor extended

Labrador Maroon with ovipositor extended - closeup

Labrador Maroon with ovipositor extended - closeup

So the big question – what now?  Of course, it did occur to me that I could introduce the Lightning Maroon to see if I could get a spawn.  But that’s risky in the new tank, and also risky if the Labrador turns on the Lightning.  I also thought I could add in the “spare” PNG Maroon Male.  I’m still seriously considering that.  The Labrador Maroon is clearly squared off and ready to spawn…she just needs a mate it would seem.  I’m hesitant to risk the spare PNG Male, and kinda the same with the Lightning Maroon.  So if this continues, the male from a breeding pair of White Stripes I got from Greg may get called into action tomorrow.  I’ll have to keep a close eye on things, but the male used to spawn (just hasn’t since I moved them here).

Why this couldn’t have happened at any point in the last 8 months or so when the Lightning was there is beyond me!  I sent the following email to many of the most talented marine fish breeders I know, and hopefully we’ll get some interesting comments:

Hey guys, you’re all on this email because you have easily more experience breeding clownfish than myself and I truly respect your opinions and insights.

As you all may know, the Lightning Maroon breeding project has been on “semi-hold” for months, the Lightning restricted to a large egg crate cage, with a very large generic White Stripe, the “Labrador” Maroon, being the mate.  They’ve been allowed to interact once and it seemed to go OK, but other tankmates (Pygmy Angels) caused problems and didn’t have another tank to go to.  As Joe and myself can testify, a little egg crate never stopped fish sperm.  But I never saw any pre-spawn behavior on the part of the Labrador Maroon, only incessent digging.  I’d been in this semi-holding pattern largely because I was waiting for a PNG Maroon female from SEASMART, but this scheme offered the possibility of getting a spawn with the Labrador while waiting for a Fishermen’s Island PNG female.

With PNG being shut down for months, I realize now I was waiting on something that had no realistic chance of becoming reality.  Thus, once I learned I was limited to what I had, I made the call for the Lighting to become a female. Last week I split up the pair, moving the Labrador into the newly set up Ecoxotic tank for cycling.  Today, for the first time since I’ve had it, the Labrador Maroon showed up squared off, ovipositor extended, and NO MATE.

Really what this boils down to is a very fundamental question.  Do I introduce the Lightning Maroon to this newly set up tank in the hopes of getting a spawn with the generic white stripe Lab, or do I not take the risk and move ahead with my plans to turn the Lightning into a female by pairing it with the actively spawning Male PNG Maroon currently paried with a large female gold stripe?

Am I reading too much into the female’s apparent “ripeness”?  Have you seen this happen where a lone female goes into spawning condition?

I expect you will all have different answers, and I welcome them.  If you could, please post them as comments on the blog entry so everyone can benefit from them!

Thanks a ton for your input and ideas!