We knew this day would come, that we’d walk into a fish store, and see some lightning maroon clownfish offered up at affordable, double digit prices. It seems like just yesterday we we were writing about the first lightning maroon collected in Papua New Guinea, yet now it’s possible to see representations of this domesticated maroon clownfish at full line pet shops with a saltwater aquarium section.
This new realization about the completed commoditization of lightning maroon clownfish happened to us this week, while visiting an aquarium store precisely like this. A decades old mom ‘n pop LFS which can be characterized as being old school with undergravel filters on everything, and a dedicated ‘goldfish section’ had some lightning maroon clowns in stock, with a price that gave us reverse sticker shock.
At just $59, these were by far the cheapest Lightnings we’ve ever seen, but they also weren’t the best looking in the bunch. In a rush to produce the lightning maroon clownfish strain, and with years of hype and pent-up demand, there’s been very little to no cullingquality control of the fish that are released in the aquarium hobby.
Even the best quality lightning maroon clownfish show some definite captive breeding artifacts and anything less, well, let’s just say the lower shelf specimens can only be described as pug-faced, bulldog, freaks. But, there’s a definite silver lining to this guppyfied clownfish strain reaching the rock-bottom bargain bin.
With so many breeders producing Lightning Maroon Clownfish and probably almost satisfying the market demand, we’re likely going to see a couple things happen. One, the quality of Lightning Maroon clownfish should improve – you’ll still have lower end aquarium shops stocking junky ones – and hopefully the number of defects will be reduced in the future.
Second and most exciting, is that now we get to see some of these fish grow up, showing us what the strain can become when the fish are mature, and these mature fish will become breeders. You can bet that next bucket of salt that like the white Amphiprion before them, this is just the beginning of breeders tinkering with the genetics of lightning maroon clownfish.
We’re already beginning to see this with ORA’s Gold Maroon Lighting Clownfish, which will grow up to be very different fish. But who knows what other interesting strains will be developed using existing strains like the Peacekeeper, Gold flake and morse code Maroon Clownfish. In some way a pure, perfect lightning maroon clownfish is an unequivocally awesome clownfish strain, but there’s no telling what is in store for the future of domesticated Premnas biaculeatus.