March 25th, 2010, Mark Martin of Blue Zoo Aquatics sent me an email with the subjectline “Rare Maroon Clown” with 2 images attached.  Mark simply wrote, “Though you would like to see this.  All I could say was whoa.”
My response?  “I for one think it’s pretty darn cool, and provided it’s a WC fish, I can’t wait to see it’s natural “biodiversity” being preserved by talented breeders!  I hope that’s where it goes.”  And that’s how it started.  2 emails between fellow fishnuts who’d worked together before, and one insanely unique looking Maroon Clownfish (Premnas biaculeatus) collected by Steven Paul, a diver for Papua New Guinea’s SEASMART Program.  Since those first pictures taken by Ret Talbot while on assignment in PNG first hit my inbox, the PNG Lighting Maroon Clown has been dubbed “The Clownfish Seen Around The World”.
The Lightning Project came to reality over only a couple days worth of discourse between Mark Martin and myself about this stunning abberant specimen from PNG.  Admittedly, I was collaborating with Mark much in the way we have in the past…I offer my opinions when he asks (and sometimes when he doesn’t) and that’s about it.  We talked about the possibilities for such a fish and what it might mean to marine ornamental aquaculture.  We talked about how you might go about producing more Lightning Maroon Clownfish if this is the only one to enter the trade, and all along the way, I did offer up how I would do things if this was my fish, never ever imagining or even really desiring that it might actually be my fish.
Well, it turns out that this, only the second Lightning Maroon Clownfish ever collected in PNG, did make it’s way to my tanks.  I was invited to be the steward for this fantastic fish.  I will say again, I sold off a LOT of valuable broodstock in order to finance my participation in this project.  I believe that if I’m successful in executing the project plan, it will be to the benefit of our entire hobby and industry.  So what are the goals of The Lightning Project?

  1. Keep the Lightning Maroon alive in captivity.
  2. Pair the PNG Lighting Maroon with the most appropriate mate available
  3. Attempt to spawn and rear the F1 offspring from the Lightning Maroon.
  4. Distribute the F1 offspring to any and every marine fish breeder interested in working with the offspring
  5. Undertaking this project in the spirit of full disclosure and transparency to the point of accepting public failure if that became a reality.
  6. Using the attention this project will garner to share meaningful discussions on topics directly and indirectly related to the project.

There’s certainly much more to this project, which I’ll add as time permits.  Stay tuned!