Cardinal Clownfish (Red Saddleback anemonefish)
Amphiprion Ephippium
 

Figure 1: Sub-Adult Geographic origin: Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia (Java and Sumatra) [1.Gerald R. Allen]

Name: The genus ephippium from the Greek word ephippi, =us, meaning saddle. This species has been most commonly referred to as the "Red Saddleback Anemonefish"[5].

Maximum size: 8cm[3], 10cm[4], 11cm[1.Gerald R. Allen], 12cm[5]

Size of my pair: The female is 7cm  long and the male is 5.5cm long at the time of first spawning

Description: Body and fins are reddish-orange. Only juveniles have white bars. This is the only clownfish which has no white stripe at all by the time it is an adult. Black spot on the side varies in size with the individual, being smaller in sub adults (Figure 1) and covering most of the body in mature adults (Figure 2).

Males are smaller than females. Color does not appear to be different between males or females. All young clowns start life as juveniles. The most dominant clown becomes the female, the next dominant clown becomes a male with the rest staying as juveniles. If the female dies, the male becomes a female and the most dominant juvenile becomes the male.

The Amphiprion Ephippium prefers Entacmaea Quadricolor (Bubble anemone) or Hetaractis crispa and Stichodactylus spp.[1.Gerald R. Allen]. My pair live happily in a Entacmaea Quadricolor.

 Breeding Amphiprion Ephippium

There are different ways to obtaining a pair of clownfish.

According to the literature a naturally mated pair of clownfish is always the best option. This is because naturally mated pair of clownfish will not have to go through the territorial and aggressive struggles that happen in an aquarium when fish are first introduced.

The other possibility is buying a small group of clownfish, preferably from different sources. Figure 2: My pair at the time of first spawning

I obtained my pair by third method by buying  two clowns of differing size. The larger fish is very aggressive towards its own kind and if there is only one other clownfish, than that aggression can cause the smaller fish to become very stressed. This problem will persist until the larger, more dominant female fish accepts the smaller male. According to the literature that situation may take from a few days to several weeks. In my case, female occupied anemone and drive away male for more than 2 months before accepted male. Now both live happily in a Entacmaea Quadricolor.

Spawning

The first indication of possible spawning is when the male or female, will start to clean a portion of rock near the anemone. This is a good indication that spawning will follow, but if you wait first spawning , it is not sure that it will happen very soon . My pair started cleaning rock near the anemone more than 1 month before first spawning.  The last indicator of spawning behavior is the appearance of both the male and female  genital tubes.

Spawning starts, when the female swims over the cleared patch of rock and deposits a small line of eggs. The males follows shortly after and fertilizes them. The eggs begin life as a bright orange color. The process of laying eggs takes from 2 to 3 hours. The eggs are 3 mm long and 1 mm wide.  Once the pair have started spawning they're likely to repeat it at intervals of around 12 to 18 days [6].

After the spawning is complete, the females will protect the eggs from predators and the male will take care about  eggs. The male fans the eggs with his fins to aerate them while the female will chase any other fish or human hand that gets too close.

Two days before hatching the larvae develop a silvery color. You have to make a decision, what method you will use for transferring  eggs or larvae in rearing tank. Two methods are described in literature:

a.) Leaving  the eggs in the tank to hatch, and than you will  remove the larvae to rearing tank.

b.) One day before hatching, you will transfer rock with eggs to rearing tank, so eggs will hatch in the rearing tank.

I prefer first method , because it is quite difficult to transfer rock with anemone to rearing tank. I am also afraid, that fish will be disturbed, if their home will be temporary removed from aquarium. On the other hand, it is quite easy to collect hatched larvae from aquarium with parents to larval rearing tank.

The eggs usually take from 6 to 15 days to hatch depending on the temperature [6].In my case all eggs always need two days to hatch. First group will   hatch on the 8th day at temperature 26C. Un-hatched eggs will hatch one day after first group.  See also my diary!

If the eggs are to be left in the aquarium with parents (first method),  then circulation in the tank must be turned off on the day of hatching at the same time when lights are turned of as the larvae hatch within 2 hours of darkness. The eggs will hatch in waves, and larvae will swim to the surface.  The torch is used to concentrate the larvae into a group and then larvae can be siphoned into the larval rearing tank with airline tubing or dipped out with plastic cups. I use 0.5 liter plastic cap. This is done repetitively until all larvae are transferred.

Larval Rearing Tank

According to literature clownfish larvae can be reared in many different sorts of containers and tanks. I have experiences with to types of larval rearing tanks:

1.)External Larval Rearing Tank

Figure 3: External larval rearing tank

 

This is standard rectangular tank with a water holding capacity of 20 liters, equipped only with air pump that produces bubbles and 14W light fixture. The larval rearing tank should receive the same lighting cycle as the main tank. The larvae are visual predators and require light to hunt for their live food prey[6].

It is very difficult to control nitrite in such tank and regular water exchange is required. There is also another problem to control temperature in the summer time.

 

2.)Internal Larval Rearing Container

Figure 4: Internal  larval rearing container in main aquariumFigure 5: Internal  larval rearing containerFigure 4: Top view of Internal  larval rearing container

This is very small container with a water holding capacity of 6 liters with a mesh screen of between 100 and 200 microns on one side. This container is placed in main aquarium in such manner that water can exchange between main aquarium and  container.

The water quality and temperature is the same as in the main tank, so there is no problem to control nitrite and if you have chiller there is also no problem with to high temperature.

Additionally, small container size is very useful, if you don t have enough rotifers. The larval rearing container  receive the same light as the main tank.

Development of Larvae

Figure 7: 1 day old larva with rotifers in stomachRotifers should be used as a first food. I started  feeding larvae with rotifers on the first day after hatching.  I add new rotifers in the rearing container  two times every day in the morning and in the afternoon. Most of the larvae are very successful hunters of rotifers, so they are very fat and their stomach is brownish-orange colored as you can see on the Figure 7. In the morning time all larvae are very slim. According to my opinion, this is why the larva is visual predator, so it is not feeding during the night time. One hour after turning lights on, most of larvae are already fat with brownish-orange stomach.

Every day I siphoned  dead larvae from rearing container.

Metamorphosis is temperature dependant; as early as day 7 but mostly day 10. Develop 2 bands of white at metamorphosis; head and mid-body [5].

Breeding Amphiprion Ephippium Clownfish Diary

Days after spawning Days after hatching

1st spawning

0. Spawning

4.8.2003

My pair of fish first spawned sometime this afternoon. Pair selected place for nest, between anemone and front side of aquarium. The eggs begin life as a bright orange color.

Aquarium:Temperature:26C, NO3:10mg/l, Specific gravity: 1.020

6.  

Around day 6, the eggs turn a silvery color.

8. Hatching

Most of the eggs hatched at night, 1 hour after darkness. I collected only 20 larvae and moved them in external larval rearing tank(20liters)

9. Hatching

1.

2 remaining un-hatched eggs hatched one day after first group.

Siphoned 10 dead larvae(50%) out this morning. I started  feeding larvae with rotifers, but I didn't have enough rotifers.

10. 2. All larvae dead, except 2
11. 3. Remaining 2 larvae dead on 3rd day after hatching.
Days after spawning Days after hatching

2nd spawning     11 days after 1st

0. Spawning

15.8.2003

Pair selected other place for nest, between anemone and rear side of aquarium.

Aquarium:Temperature:26C, NO3:10mg/l, Specific gravity: 1.020

8. Hatching

Some of the eggs hatched at night, 1 hour after darkness. I collected 45 larvae and moved them in internal larval rearing container(6 liters)

9. Hatching

1.

un-hatched eggs hatched one day after first group. I collected 100 larvae and moved them in internal larval rearing container.

Siphoned 20 dead larvae (50%) out this morning. I started  feeding larvae with rotifers (two times every day)

11. 3. Figure 8: 3days old larvae70 larvae remain
12. 4. 30 larvae remain
13-14. 5. - 6. I continued feeding larvae with rotifers two times daily during this period. No larvae dead.
15 7 I added freshly hatched Brine shrimp this morning for the first time, but larvae didn't eat Brine shrimp, so I continued feeding larvae with rotifers.
16. 8.

I added freshly hatched Brine shrimp this morning for the second time and larvae started feeding on baby brine shrimp.

17-18. 9.-10. Larvae grow very fast, feeding on freshly hatched brine shrimp.
19. 11. One baby clown have now developed head  stripe at only 11 days old. Stripe is white colored. Body of this clown is very dark, almost black.
20. 12. Four baby clowns have now developed head and middle body stripe on black body.
21-23 13.-16  

I continued feeding larvae with freshly hatched Brine shrimp during this period. No larvae dead. 12  baby clowns(50%) have developed head and middle body stripe.

17-31  I continued feeding larvae with  Brine shrimp during this period.
Days after spawning Days after hatching

3rd spawning     12 days after 2nd

0. Spawning

27.8.2003

Female deposited eggs on two places, actually pair have two nests now.

Aquarium:Temperature:26C, NO3:10mg/l, Specific gravity: 1.020

9. ?????  
Days after spawning Days after hatching

4th spawning     9 days after 3rd

0. Spawning

5.9.2003

Female again deposited eggs on two places. Aquarium:Temperature:25C, NO3:10mg/l, Specific gravity: 1.020

9. Hatching  
Days after spawning Days after hatching

5th spawning     12 days after 4th

0. Spawning

17.9.2003

 Aquarium:Temperature:25C, NO3:10mg/l, Specific gravity: 1.021

 

Literature

  1. Dr. Gerald R. Allen ; Damselfishes of the World; Mergus, 1991
  2. Helmut Debelius, Hans A. Baensch; Marine Atlas 1,Mergus, 1997
  3. Dr. P.V. Loiselle, Hans A. Baensh; Marine Aquarist Manual, Tetra Press 1991
  4. Dr. Warren E. Burgess; Dr.Burgess s ATLAS of Marine Aquarium Fishes, Third Edition, T.F.H Publications, Inc,
  5. http://www.breeders-registry.gen.ca.us/database/AMPEPH01.htm
  6. http://www.reefsuk.org/CaptiveBreeding/Articles/Articles.asp

 


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Created by Bojan Jerina on 28 August 2003. Last updated on 4th September 2003