Over the past couple of years, the fish breeders of our wonderful hobby have gradually shifted their attentions away from the Amphiprion clownfish to some extent, focusing their efforts instead on the maroon clownfish (Premnas biaculeatus) that’s been gaining popularity at a very quick pace. Despite their normally aggressive behavior, fish breeders have been making great strides with the maroon clowns and breeding them in larger numbers today than we could ever recall in the past. We can’t say for certain why things are trending the way they are, but we chalk it up, in part, to the presence of the Lightning Maroon Clownfish and Matt Pedersen’s success with breeding her, along with the fact that the A. ocellaris and A. percula clownfish have basically been done. And at the forefront of this maroon clownfish trend is Oceans Reefs & Aquariums, who have once again brought out a very unique trait through their selective breeding process, resulting in the ORA Goldflake Maroon Clownfish and the ORA Solid Gold Maroon Clownfish.
According to a recent ORA blog post, they acquired their first unsual looking wild-caught maroon clownfish from the Solomon Islands back in 2004. Interestingly, this “Jigasaw” clownfish, as it was eventually called, was brought in on the same catch that gave the aquarium world its first wild-caught Picasso clownfish, which went on to be the “foundation of all Picassos” that ORA still produces to this day. ORA quickly put both fish into their breeding program, and despite the “Jigsaw” maroon successfully breeding, the resulting offspring came out very normal looking time and time again. This obviously frustrated the ORA fish breeding staff who wanted to exagerrate that color morph. Deterred by the lack of unusal offspring, ORA eventually abandoned the “Jigsaw” maroon program so that they could focus in on the picasso variants, which were obviously quite successful.
Fortunately, ORA never quite gave up on maroon clowns. After years of producing a wide variety of clownfish, ORA breeders started noticing some variants popping up in gold stripe maroon clownfish offspring. The aberrations usualy consisted of misbarring and the occasional misplaced white dote, but these fish were often sold to retailers alongside normal looking fish. Eventually though, the ORA experimentation would start back up, as the breeders selected the very best morphs and decided to do try to breed them. To their surprise, the experiment worked, and ORA started to notice an increased numbers of uniquely barred offspring and they were able to reproduce those traits.
With the success of breeding the GSM clownfish came the naming of the offspring, and in keeping up with the current trend of GSM clown naming, they stuck with the “Goldflake” moniker so as not to confuse aquarium hobbyists. They shied away from using the “Jigsaw” name as the fish didn’t quite have the same patterns and they had yellow barring where the “Jigsaw” had all white patterns. All the names aside, ORA extensively bred the fish and have made their beautiful Goldflakes available to the aquarium hobby starting today.
In terms of availability, the ORA Goldflake Maroon Clown will come in two varieties. Each Goldflake be graded as regulars or premiums depending on the amount of white present (which will turn gold as the fish matures). We’re told that some of the premium Goldflakes will have a white pattern that covers nearly half of their bodies. The standard Goldflake will be available from ORA in decent numbers, but due to the rarity of the Premium Goldflakes (about 1 in 20,000 fish), the premium versions will be very limited.
Fortunately, ORA isn’t done with the surprises just yet. Their selective breeding of the Goldflakes have resulted in something unexpected. ORA was able to produce a nearly all white Gold Stripe Maroon clownfish, which looks just like a Platinum Percula at first glance. As with the goldflakes, the white will give way to a rich golden color as the fish matures, though ORA doesn’t expect to have any significant numbers of the fish for a couple of years at least.