Moments ago, Bali Aquarich revealed yet another clownfish species with atypical markings. This time, it’s the Tomato Clownfish, Amphiprion frenatus. With so many unusual clownfish variants showing up in captive breedig populations, how is this fish any different? (more and a video after the break!)
It is amazing to think that aberrant striping is so frequent now, but as the years have gone by we’re seeing these “Picasso” or “Galaxy” type markings in evermore species. This frequency of occurrence might suggest a common theme; perhaps there is some sort of basic genetic mutation in clownfish striping genetics that occurs somewhat regularly – breed enough clownfish and sooner or later, the mutation will appear.
Of course, we’re speculating pretty heavily here – we don’t even know if this is a genetically based trait in the first place, but we do know that these types of over-barring are genetic in at least Percula and Ocellaris Clownfish, and other species availability is suggestive of a genetic basis as well. All said, the list of fish known to have such curved, over-barred markings now includes Premnas biaculeatus, Amphiprion percula, A. ocellaris, A. bicinctus, A. clarki, A. polymnus, A. sebae, and now A. frenatus. We’re probably forgetting one or two more…
Now, there could be one small bit of heartbreak with this news. The question must be asked – will these aberrantly-marked Tomato Clownfish retain their markings? In the normal course of development, species of the “tomato complex” are known to develop middle stripes early after settlement, but as the fish grow up they quickly lose these markings. The unusual patterning on these babies does appear to be limited to the middle stripe, which ordinarily is destined to vanish as the fish mature. Will the mutation of the striping override the predisposition for this stripe to go away, or will these new clownfish be a heartbreaking case of “enjoy it while you can”, looking like any other regular Tomato Clownfish upon maturity?
Su Wen-Ping acknowledges that even he does not yet know the answer – “Will [all these stripes disappear? We don’t know yet]. Because they have more [stripes] than usual[, we ] think this is a interesting experience.”
Clownfish enthusiasts around the world will be anxiously awaiting the verdict, although it could take several months or longer to find out whether these markings stay, or vanish.
Check out this fantastic video showing these tiny clownfish in great detail.