While “Guppy of the Marine Aquarium” has long been a title bestowed upon the Banggai Cardinalfish, I’ve long felt that the true guppy of the marine aquarium world, with its ubiquity of hobbyist breeding and ever-increasing diversity of aberrant, non-wild “designer forms”, is the Ocellaris & Percula Clownfish complex. If there was any remaining doubt, the appearance of a longfin / veil / butterfly mutation in a single Ocellaris Clownfish at Sustainable Aquatics seals the deal. NEMO is the Guppy of the Marine Aquarium world.
It was only a matter of time before a longfin mutation would show up in Clownfish – think about how many other freshwater fish species have exactly this same mutation (Guppies, Swordtails, Mollies, Angelfish, Koi, Goldfish, Rams, White Clouds, Danios, Black Skirt Tetras, Bettas etc…there is even now a longfin Discus!). The list goes on and on (I have even seen a photo of what I can only call a longfin Steelhead rainbow trout; aquatic biologist and long-time angling friend Mike Durkalec knows the photo I’m talking about).
So this is hardly surprising at all; I suspect that this longfin mutation might be a fundamental genetic “mistep” not unlike albino. Some sort of damage or doubling of an allele during cell division might be all it takes, and those types of “errors” might occur with some regularity. I was once told that “albino” mutations will occur roughly once in every 200,000 to 300,000 fish…not sure where that claim actually comes from, but it illustrates the point I’m trying to make.
John Baker and I were the first to find Albino Astatotilapia latisfasciata, and now the fish is avaiable in the trade. Thus, longfin, like albinism, might be something that will occur only randomly, but occasionally. Everything suggests that if breed enough fish and you’re going to hit one of these common piscine mutations. You just have to get lucky and capitalize on the luck when it comes your way, just like Sustainable Aquatics has done.
I’ll put money on it now – the trait is likely partially dominant; most longfin mutations in fish are either partially dominant or dominant genetic traits, the latter being a sentiment Sustainable Aquatics might agree with with.
Take special note – Sustainable Aquatics is currently soliciting naming ideas for the longfin mutation (see below). The full text of the informal release, made via the Sustainable Aquatics Facebook Page, is shared here for the record:
A few months ago a member of our staff, marine biologist Matthew Jolley, noticed an odd fish being shredded by his brothers in one of our many grow out tanks. Based on Matt’s attentive care and quick action it was saved.
This animal had very long fins and was being attacked by his brothers because he was different. We isolated him and he started to heal; although you can see he is still showing scars, he continues healing today.
We paired him with a wild caught female Ocellaris, which went very well and they are well bonded now. Matthew Carberry’s idea is: if this long fin feature breeds true, then we want to start with as little in-breeding as possible. If this feature breeds true, we will cross the offspring in the near future with a wide variety of other designer clowns.
We have not found a name for him yet, but we call him longfin. We will be taking suggestions from anyone who has an idea for a great name. If this breeds true and we select your name, the winner will be rewarded with two fish before they are released!
The pair has begun spawning and we expect in the next few weeks they will be successfully tending a nest. We do not know if the longfin feature will breed true, though such mutations are often dominant. We have seen perhaps 25,000 offspring from longfin’s parents and this is the first manifestation of this feature. We would expect such a mutation would not survive in the wild.
We will give regular updates on this development and hope to report a nest in the next few weeks. Hopefully, in a few months we can show their offspring and we will find out if this trait breeds true! Stay tuned!
(Please email firstname.lastname@example.org with name suggestions)