Yes, that “surprise” that happened today was the honestly unanticipated 2nd spawning of the Lightning Maroon.  The massive flooding in Duluth the last couple days prevented Barb from making the trip to teach me how to do a skin scrape on the Lightning Maroon; had she come yesterday as originally planned, I very well may have a) fished out the male, or possibly even the Lightning Maroon herself for a skin scrape and thus b) probably delayed or prevented this very spawn from happening.  Serendipity at it’s finest.  It was still the plan to skin scrape the fish today to rule out any external parasites, but when Barb called to say she was on her way, I had to tell her that the fish had started spawning behavior, and that maybe it wasn’t a good idea to touch them today.  This was shot right after I got off the phone with her:

By the time she and Heidi had arrived, things were looking pretty serious, so much so that I had to excuse myself from being a good host to immediately film the fish’s behavior.  Lucky thing I did, because I caught the very first few eggs being laid as it happened (left the audio commentary on, if you can imagine me shooting while talking and pointing to the tank…)

Afterwards, believe it or not, I actually tore myself away so that we could do some skin scrapes on some other fish downstairs just so I could learn how to do it.  Turns out it was really easy, but honestly, it’s one of those things that I think you simply want to see done the first time, just so you know you’re doing it right.  And between my two microscopes, I really a) don’t have one powerful enough to look at the sample and b) wouldn’t necessarily know what to look for, whereas Barb has that experience.  The samples we took from the fish downstairs were clean (no pathogens noted).  Always a nice thing to hear 😉
After Barb and Heidi departed, I sat down and took some additional video of the post-spawn behavior.  You can clearly see both the mark on the male right between the eyes, as well as the inflamed tissue around the left eye of the female.

So that’s where we’re at.  A new batch of eggs, and new hope that maybe, just maybe, I can take some of the pressure off if things go our way and we get some baby Lightning Maroon Clownfish.  Wouldn’t that be great?  If we have success, it’s realistic that 1-2 months from now we might have our first ideas at what we’re looking at.  Of course I’ve just now done the math and realized – I will be speaking in Boston the weekend these eggs are due to hatch.  THANKFULLY I have not one, but TWO local hobbyists here in town who have both hatched and reared maroon clownfish.  Looks like I’ll be asking both Mike Doty and Jay Hansen to do some pretty serious fish sitting next weekend!!!