It appears that Sustainable Aquatics has introduced what may be a first of it’s kind clownfish. This new fish, dubbed the Frostbite, is said to be a crossing of two different mutations, the white (presumably Wyoming White or Fancy White) and Snow (presumably Snowflake) versions of Amphiprion ocellaris.
What’s particularly interesting is that this may be the first truly “double mutation” non-hybrid designer clownfish on the market, consisting of both Snowflake and Wyoming White genetics in a pure A. ocellaris context. Certainly, a fish like the “Black Ice” or “Black Snowflake” come to mind as possible “double mutation” candidates, but some folks believe that the Black (Darwin) Ocellaris may not be the same species as A. ocellaris and frankly, outcomes like the “Mocha” cross are more suggestive of the progeny being “hybrids” vs. dealing with some sort of genetic mutation. The Onyx Picasso Clownfish (A. percula) also comes to mind, but it’s fair to say that the genetics of Onyx coloration are not well understood. Thus, the Frostbite is truly something different and has me excited. So why the hoopla about “double mutations”?
So what really makes this new Frostbite unique, from a genetics standpoint, is that the two parentaly variants are known to be genetic mutations on a single locus, and now possibly showing signs that they are not mutant alleles on the same locus but potentially could be on unique loci, independent of, but interacting with, each other. In laymans terms – mate two of these Frostbites together and maybe, potentially, you could get a true plethora of offspring. Depending on the “doses” of genes at play, you could run the gamut.
For the purposes of discussion, I’ll also propose and utilize an Ocellaris genetics shorthand based on a framework of informal rules that I’ve used with Lightning Maroon discussions, derived from a more formalized shorthand and understanding in Angelfish (Pterophyllum scalare) breeding.
If these two mutations (Snowflake and Wyoming White) were on the same loci, the Frostbite genetics would be represented as (S/W), and the only genetic combination you could have to get this Frostbite phenotype would always be (S/W); the next generation mating of two Frostbite (S/W) fish would yield 25% double-dose Snowflake (S/S), 25% Wyoming Whites (W/W), and 50% Frostbites (S/W). Anyone who mates two Frostbites together and gets this 25/50/25 phenotype spread would very rapidly prove these mutations being alleles on the same locus.
However, let’s look at a far more juicy option. I’m going to suggest that the Frostbite has a single Snowflake gene, and a single Wyoming White gene. I base this on an assumption I’ll explain later. So, in my hypothetical breeding example, the Frostbite parents are presumed to be (S/+ – W/+); single dose Snowflake, single dose Wyoming White, presuming again, that these genes are not on the same loci.
Who gets what from their parents?
It’s starting to look as though Snowflake might be a dominant gene but the jury is still out. 75% of our hypothetical Frostbite X Frostbite cross ((S/+ – W/+) x (S/+ – W/+)) will have Snowflake genetics in the mix, the other 25% would not. It also means that the full impact of Snowflake is seen with a single dose, and that there would be no outward differentiation between a (S/+) and a (S/S) Snowflake ocellaris, and presumably it also wouldn’t matter in a “Frostbite” whether it had a single dose or double dose of the Snowflake allele.
When we talk about the Wyoming White gene, the spread is the same. So 75% off the offspring in a hypothetical Frostbite X Frostbite mating will have at least one (if not two) Wyoming White genes. Given the partial dominance of Wyoming White (single dose fish being the Gladiator aka. Fancy White Ocellaris), out of the 75% hypothetical offspring that get a Wyoming White gene, 50% could inherit 1 Wyoming White gene, 25% 2 Wyoming White genes, and 25% no Wyoming White genes.
The offspring that only get “one” mutation:
Among the 25% off offspring that don’t get a Snowflake Gene, you have Wyoming White permutations that should be readily discernible. It’s currently believed that Wyoming White is partially dominant in expression. 25% of the “non snowflake” group would also miss out on any Wyoming White gene; overall that means 6.25% of the total offspring would be regularly straight up wild-type 3 striped Ocellaris (+/+). The 50% of the 25% non-snowflake that got a single Wyoming White gene would be considered “Fancy Whites” (W/+)…or 12.5% of the total offspring from the mating. And another 6.25% of the overall group – those would be pure straight up Wyoming Whites (W/W).
Remember too, 25% of the fish didn’t get Wyoming White genetics (again, assuming there’s only one dose of Wyoming White in a “Frostbite”). If that’s the case, then assuming “dominance” as the expression for Snowflake, 75% of the 25% non-Wyoming White fish will be classic Snowflake Ocellaris ,either (S/+) or (S/S); 18.75% of the total offspring. The other fish in this group that got neither Snowflake nor Wyoming White genetics = classic 3 stripe Ocellaris, wild type (+/+), 6.25%.
So what about the “double” mutation offspring?
Overall though, 50% of the offspring would inherit both snowflake and wyoming white genetics. There are four possibilities at play that may or may not be relevant. 25% of these mixed mutation fish would be (S/+ – W/+) like their parents, and would safely be what we presume is a “Frostbite” without question.
That said, 25% would be (S/S – W/+), 25% (S/+ – W/W) and 25% (S/S – W/W). Would these all outwardly look the same and be “Frostbites”? Hard to say…
Hypothetically, could it be that the Snowflake (dominant) interaction with Wyoming White (partially dominant) depends on the number of Wyoming White genes in the mix. Now, it could be that the fish labeled as “Chilled Frostbite” (less black splotches) got a double dose of Wyoming White (S/S – W/W , or S/+ – W/W) that has more force against the patterning of Snowflake. Meanwhile, the fish with only a single dose of Wyoming White interacting with Snowflake could be the ones with more dots (the S/S – W/+, and S/+ – W/+) and could be the ones Sustainable Aquatics is calling “Frozen Frostbite”.
It could also be that any fish with a double doze of Wyoming White (W/W) might obliterate the Snowflake expression,and thus half of these “genetic frostbites” would really appear as Wyoming Whites…just holding hidden Snowflake genetics. Or it could be that all four genetic combinations of Snowflake and Wyoming White all present the same “mostly white”, lightly “spotted” fish. It could also be that we have yet to SEE anything other than the “Frostbite” as I suspect it to be (S/+ – W/+) and that the other three variations could all be completely new results we’ve yet to experience (because it will take the Frostbite X Frostbite breeding to create their genetic cocktails)! Therefore, it could also be that “Chilled” vs “Frozen” really just boils down to a grading, and not an outward difference that has a basis in underlying genetics.
Why this is just a hypothesis:
All of this could be totally wrong; the presumption that Snowflake is dominant and fully expressed in a single-dose of the allele could be wrong; there has been some evidence that it either works differently or even that the double-dose form (S/S) could be fatal. The assumption that Wyoming White and Snowflake are different mutations on different loci could also be wrong, but will be easily confirmed or dismissed with the first mating of Frostbite X Frostbite, assuming I have the genetic make correct, which leads me to explain that.
Ultimately, I base my hypothetical genetics presuming that Frostbites are a single-generation outcome from the parentage alluded to. Wyoming White = W/W, and the Snowflake parent could be either S/+ or S/S. When we look at this genetic puzzle together, it becomes clear that a Wyoming White will always contribute 1 Wyoming White allele (W/+) and depending on the genetics of the Snowflake parent, either 50% or 100% of the offspring would get a Snowflake gene (S/+). Since any fish that didn’t get the Snowflake gene would be a Fancy White (W/+), then it must be assumed that a Frostbite Ocellaris must minimally contain, and probably only contains, one Wyoming White gene, and one Snowflake gene, abbreviated / denoated as (S/+ – W/+). (I should note that Snowflake locus would come first in order because it was discovered prior to the Gladiator / Wyoming White genetic).
It also could be far more complicated than all this. Case in point, consider Mitch May’s “Buckshot” line of Clownfish which show strikingly similar patterning in the fish; I’m not sure Mitch has told me what the parentage of those fish are…might they actually be the same thing as SA’s new “Frostbite” (And if so, should we be calling these fish Buckshots?). What of ORA’s recent writeup of Black Snowflakes showing up with ever more black spotting in the white areas, being referred to as “Swiss Cheese”! Is black spotting in an over-barred white mutation a second mutation, the result of selective breeding to shift or magnify the expression of the genes, or something else altogether?
I have yet to present these musings to the breeders at Sustainable Aquatics, but I look forward to what they have to say about it. Test matings of Frostbites with other Frostbites, as well as with other forms, combined with accurate phenotype counts of the offspring, could yield surprising insights into the genetics that drive our designer clownfish. One such test cross that might be helpful is the mating to a wild-type ocellaris (+/+); diluting the mutant genes in this manner can quickly reveal the underlying genetics of the Frostbite parent used as you should only see Snowflake, Fancy White, and wild-type in the F1 offspring in this cross; the ratios you get, combined with the presumed or known expression of the mutations themselves, could reveal much.
Why we can have this discussion (arguably the most important part of the story):
As I’ve come to realize, when we apply transparency in our breeding (as Sustainable has approached here with their press release) and combine this with a deeper understanding of the mutations we work with (the result again of detailed observation and communal sharing of that info), the designer clownfish that are contained to a single species are not necessarily our enemies when it comes to conservation minded breeding (hybrids still are…they cannot be undone). When it comes to designers, we only run into a dead end when we have too much mutation accumulated; for example if we mate two fish that are both (S/S – W/W), the ONLY thing we can get is more of the same thing. But, as my hypothetical take on “Frostbite” shows, you might get everything under the sun, including 12.5% regular old wild-type ocellaris, and it only takes one wild-type, clean slate ocellaris to take even the worst double-dosed fish and start back on a line towards the wild form.
One more time…
For more on the Frostbite Ocellaris, see Sustainable Aquatic’s newsletter release below:
Sustainable Aquatics is proud to announce a never-before-seen variety of the A. ocellaris clownfish, the Frostbite! This fish is an astonishing product of the crossing of two different mutations, the “white” designer and the “snow” designer. Combining these produced a dramatic and unexpected result! With a mostly white body, the Frostbite is similar in appearance to the Wyoming White, but has a series of spots on its body. There are two versions of the Frostbite: “Chilled”, with less spots, and “Frozen”, with more spots. These clownfish have an impressive appearance and will add the “wow” factor to any aquarium for both you and your customers.
As the fish matures, these spots generally turn black. The Frostbite clown also has a characteristic black outline on the preoperculum and opercular gill covering and a serrated-looking transition from the white body to the black and orange coloration on the fins.
Frostbites do well in both reef and fish-only systems. As with most clownfish, they can become territorial in smaller tanks if other fish are present. SA recommends systems of 20 gallons or more. Like all varieties of the common clownfish, the Frostbite can grow to about 3 inches in length and feeds on most prepared foods including frozen and pellet diets. SA recommends using our Dry Hatchery Diet pellet to ensure a smooth transition from our hatchery to your home aquarium.
Available NOW and see them in person at MACNA!!