The Onyx Percula - A conversation with Bill Addison

The Onyx Percula - A conversation with Bill Addison

Postby mpedersen » Wed Dec 05, 2007 1:01 am

This evening I had the honor to speak with Bill Addision (founder of C-Quest). First, I must again thank the person who helped make that happen (so thank you again!!!). I had a great conversation with Bill regarding his work with the "Onyx" Percula Clownfish. His comments helped fill in a lot of the unknowns that surround the C-Quest line of this fish. I wish I had recorded the conversation, but sadly I was in my car on my cell phone while it was snowing, scribbling notes on an old envelope! I appologize in advance for any inaccuracies, but I think I got all the important stuff correct. I should also add that at the end of our conversation, Bill gave me the go-ahead to freely share the information he had provided. I have withheld the names of 3rd parties that came up as I don't have their permission AND revealing the information Bill provided may be deamed by 3rd parties to be proprietary. In other words, as long as I don't say who is who, no one can take issue with what I've posted here :)

For so long, the concept of "Bill Addison 'fixing' the Onyx Strain" had been something of a mystery to me. In the past, I've posted my theories which I considered possible if not likely, based on my experiences with similar situations in the African Cichlid realm! But how did Bill Addison first come across the Onyx Strain? How was the "strain", "fixed"? The story starts over 20 years back.

Bill was running 50+ pairs of Perculas. Out of those pairs, all the juveniles were tracked. To make a long story short and concise, out of those 50 Percula Pairs, 2 of those pairs produced 2-3 batches each which had a couple unusually dark offspring in the batches. If I'm understanding the math, Basically 3 clutches per pair, producing 2 per batch. So in total, Bill had roughly a dozen unusual fish show up over a few batches.

Bill set these dark perculas aside to be the foundation stock of the line. He called them "Onyx", a fitting name (as he related to me, Bill used to be in the mineral / mining business....Onyx, a black stone, was one of the things they mined, so "Onyx" was a particularly appropriate name for his Black Percula line).

It's important to note that I asked Bill about the parental broodstock, the F0 generation in the line (I didn't ask if the F0 generation was actually WILD CAUGHT "F0", not that it really matters). It's important to know now that NONE of the F0 generation showed the "Onyx" coloration, or were even particularly dark / heavily marked Perculas. The F1 generation that formed the next broodstock in the line was the hand picked F1 offspring that showed particularly heavy black marking at an early age (4-6 months), parented from only 2 pairs out of 50.

----end part I---
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Postby mpedersen » Wed Dec 05, 2007 1:12 am

So Bill ditched the F0 generation and stated working with the F1 generation. Bill was quick to point out that he wasn't sure exactly how many generations he line bred the "Onyx" Perculas, but he was quick to point out that the F2 generation was NOT a generation where all the fish came out Onyx, it was still only a small percentage of each batch.

Bill went on to say that basically, the "Onyx" perculas are those in the batch that show the coloration at 4-6 months. Basically a percula that develops black coloration rapidly. It sounds like even currently, the Onyx Pairs at C-Quest do not produce 100% Onyx Offspring, at least not as far as Bill is aware. Those that color up at that 4-6 month mark are sold as "Onyx" and those that don't are simply sold as Percula. (We can all understand the business reasons for doing so...the longer you hold your CB clowns, the more you invest in them, until it becomes a case of diminishing returns). We revisited this later on in our conversation...Bill was unable to tell me what happened in his "Onyx" offspring if they were hold longer (i.e. 1 year, 2 years)...quite simply, they don't hold the fish that long.

Bill and I also discussed the concept of a Wild "Onyx" percula. In our conversation, I should point out that Bill used the common phrase of "Black Percula" ("Black Percula has been applied to everything from Black Saddlebacks and Darwin Ocellaris to the Onyx Percula). First I should take a sidetrack and relay some interesting things Bill told me about Ocellaris. 20+ years back, Bill had "Black Ocellaris" spontaneously show up in his Ocellaris breeding. At the time, he didn't think much of them and didn't pursue them as a line. Some years later, they showed up again, this time as the "Darwin" Black Ocellaris out of Australia, which Bill felt he couldn't pass judgement on whether there really is a natural Black Ocellaris out of Darwin, or if perhaps this was just another case of a melanistic mutation in someone else's Ocellaris line. Bill also brought up the white Ocellaris they have...currently 100 or so of them running around. It's on their website as the "Cotton Candy" clown. http://www.c-questfarms.com/cotton_cand ... clowns.htm

Anyway, this just goes to show that there's still a lot of unknowns, as well as a fair chance for interesting mutations in large scale breeding operations. I should point out, melanistic mutations are not all that uncommon...you only need to look to Freshwater Fish to see things like Black Angelfish, Black Mollies, Black Guppies etc...

---end part II---
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Postby mpedersen » Wed Dec 05, 2007 1:15 am

OK, back to "Wild" "Onyx" Perculas. Here's the jist. Bill relayed that a collector routinely finds "black" perculas in the shallow waters of the Solomon Islands (so much my notion that "wild onyx" only came from PNG). In an anemone in shallow water, there will often be a black male and female, but also the additional smaller sexually non-functional specimens. Bill was very quick to point out, and do so repeatedly, that these small specimens, while bearing the full "black flanked" coloration, were not necessarily young, that some may be several years in age, simply waiting to assume the male role in the pair should one of the pair die off. The two things that stuck out in my mind were again the "Shallow Water" and the "Age" that he mentioned...

So this brought me back to the question of light. I've never been to C-Quest and don't know much about how they're set up, so I mentioned my experience with the "former halfblack ocellaris" from Joe and brought up the question of lighting. Very simply put, growout at C-Quest is done in large 200 gallon tanks lit by skylights. To me, this sounds like ambient lighting, not very intense, i.e. not like baking 12" under a metal halide or being out in full sun with no shading or anything. At this point I asked about longer growout times on the Onyx (as I mentioned earlier in my posts).

Getting back to the wild caught fish, I asked Bill point black - should a wild caught fish, bearing black flanks (black between headstripe and midstripe, and midstripe and tailbar) be called an "Onyx Percula"? Bill's answer was that there wasn't a correct answer to that question - "call it whatever you like" was Bill's ultimate verdict :) I suppose that falls exactly in line with the premise of "any fish showing the black coloration at 4-6 months is an onyx, if not, it's sold as a percula".

So to recap. The "Onyx" Percula strain developed by Bill Addison at C-Quest did start off as a random "mutation" from a couple of pairs of regularly marked percula clownfish. It was line bred from there, for an unknown number of generations. If I'm understanding Bill correctly, even their current Onyx perculas do not output a high percentage of Onyx offspring in growout at C-Quest (although Bill did relay that a breeder (who I won't name because I don't have permission) whom we all know (it's not Rod) has said that they have a pair of "Onyx" from the C-Quest line that produces a high percentage, i.e. 95%, in the "Onyx" coloration). We don't know exactly how many generations are into Onyx Perculas comming out of C-Quest, but it's safe to say that any offspring sold are at least F2/F3.

I want to again thank Bill for generously sharing his time and experiences breeding this line of fish. Bill provided me with some suprising answers and at the same time, I find myself questioning the mechanics of the "onyx" coloration more than ever ;) Thanks again to Bill. I'll post my thoughts and theories in a subsequent post, and welcome you all to join and post your thoughts and opinions.

Matt
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My (Matt's) Followups to the \"Onyx\" Conversation

Postby mpedersen » Wed Dec 05, 2007 1:50 am

So here's my intial thoughts and musings:

#1. Bill mentioned nothing to discourage me from my theory that lighting levels play a role in how much black coloration will develop in an "onyx" line. Bill citing wild "black percs" coming from the shallows certainly bolsters that information. I also find it interesting that Bill experiences low #'s of Onyx in growout with the ambient / skylight situation, but yet other growers may be getting higher percentages in their growout, and if I remember correctly, at least one (Rod) is growing out under Metal Halides.

#2. There is certainly something distinctly different about the line of "Onyx" developed by C-Quest. There is definitely the issue of a Black Dorsal fin....which seems to be a hallmark of the line and 100% absent in wild collected fish that otherwise share the same phenotype. Of course, this still raises the question - how much of what we see in a fish like those produced by breeders working with the C-Quest line is the result of selective breeding BEYOND the original "mutation"...which leads me to ask...

#3 If it is in fact a mutation at all? There's still the question of the original broodstock that founded the C-Quest line. Were the original broodstock perhaps from SI or PNG? Afterall, we do know that SI and PNG perculas, even if not fully "black" do tend to have MORE black. Could it be that ANY SI or PNG Percula has the "capability" to express "Onyx" coloration via the genetic makeup? Could the expression of this phenotype simply be the result of environmental factors (i.e. what depth it settles at)? Or could we be looking at a case of Polymorphism?

#4. Of course, there is also the question of age? We all know perculas take rediculous amounts of time to form things like bars, let alone black coloration. My general observation is that there is definitely a "time" factor associated with the development of full black-flanked coloration, both in wild fish and in the C-Quest line. I should again point out that even my male, purchased at an "adult" size, did not have any black between the 2nd and 3rd stripe at the time of purchase - it developed over the subsequent 8 months. To me, that means that my male percula was like at minimum 2-3 years of age before it had developed the full "Onyx" coloration. So is it age, light, or both?

#5. Those questions aside, it seems that for at least some folks, their "Onyx" perculas breed true and produce many Onyx Offspring. This would certainly be a qualification of a "Fixed" strain. Up until now, it's been called into question as to whether "wild" "onyx" clownfish can produce more "onyx" clownfish. My initial take, before seeing any evidence, is that in the wild, a phenotype that has existed for some long-standing period of time will likely naturally breed true, or at the very least, there is some critical advantage to that coloration so only those that develop the full black coloration survie to maturity. It would make sense though that the species probably would breed true. I would expect any wild form of a fish to breed true, so in the case of Wild Caught fish, given the proper environment and care in growout, it is FULLY reasonable to expect that with enough time, they should all grow up to look like their parents. With all that said, only now are some of my first F1 Onyx starting to hit the 1 year mark, and while I have yet to see any fully marked "onyx" out of my offspring, among those that I've personally seen, most sure look like all they need is a tailbar and a bit more time...their flanks are already "dusky" between the 2nd bar and the caudal peduncle!

#6. Here's the kicker for me. The LFS I was at this evening happens to have 4 Onyx Perculas on hand straight from C-Quest! Out of these four, 2 are fully barred and fully colored and even have the "trademark" black dorsal fin of the C-Quest line. These 2 happen to be the smaller ones. Of the larger two, one is a misbar, has the black dorsal, and has what is best called a "black line" running along the back between the 2nd and 3rd bar. The last "Onyx" I didn't stare at as much, but if I recall correctly, has the black dorsal but has no hint of black between bars #2 and #3 at this point in time. Size wise...not that far off from the male I purchased who is now my male broodstock WC Onyx! I've seen others of the C-Quest line that don't have the black dorsal either...so while a Black Dorsal is most likely indicative of the C-Quest line, to not have a black-dorsal would not rule a fish out of the C-Quest line.

As you can see, there's a lot of information there and yet not a lot of conclusive findings...just a lot of things leading you to believe something but no concrete facts to back up anything at the moment!!!

I guess there is one main thing I should point out...there are definitely two distinct lineages of fish being referred to as "Onyx". Whether that's correct or not is most likely a matter of personal choice...Wild Caught Fish showing full-black flanks are being referred to as "Onyx" Perculas regularly now.

So, the "Wild Type" of "Onyx" - There are wild fish that come in from places like SI and PNG which have fully black flanks (or develop that trait later on in the aquarium).

Then, there's the "C-Quest Line" of "Onyx" - fish from a selectively bred line of percula, originating from Regular Percula Broodstock at C-Quest, which may develop black flanks and usually have a black first dorsal fin as well. The line has been bred by selecting fish which show early developing of their black coloration as well.

The remarkable part is that the only commonalities between these two lines is their phenotype - the black coloration covering basically the entire flank. One is of wild natural origin, and the other is certainly suspected of being a mutation. If this is truly the case, it may be that there are completely different genetic and environmental factors at play in the coloration developing of fish from each line..in other words we might be comparing apples to oranges?!

I welcome all the folks out there who are raising offspring from "Onyx" parents to weigh in and share your experiences! As far as I am aware, there are at least 4 breeders working with the C-Quest line. I am the only one I know of working with "Wild" fish at the moment...anyone else out there?

Matt
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Postby DrHsu » Wed Dec 05, 2007 2:24 am

Matt,

One question regarding your conversation with Bill - did he qualify what he meant by the "onyx coloration at 4-6 months"? ie what was the criteria that C-Quest used when they picked them out at that age - black dorsal, black between first two bars, black between all the bars, fully black between all the bars, combination of dorsal fin black with black between bar 1 and 2, combination of black dorsal with black between all the bars? etc etc. If he didn't, could you pls ask him when you next talk to him?

Wrt wild "onyx" variants, they are definately out there. My source gets theirs from PNG, most likely off Biak in Irian Jaya rather than PNG (they would not divulge the actual area); and my friend tells me that SI perculas can be as good as these PNG ones, or better in some instances (these are coming out of Pacific Aqua Farms/Aquarium Arts).

Regarding the black dorsal - also definately found in the wild. See the pic of my WC male from PNG (paired with one of my F1 females in my pictoral essay). Now, this male is tiny - about 1 inch or less TL - and I believe is young. He essentially qualifies as an onyx by all criteria.

I have even seen one male/juve of the same size who was 90% black - fins and body. The LFS would not sell him to me, but strangely enough, he faded to a normal colored fish after a while. They were then going to sell it to me but he was killed by sea apple toxins just that very day :cry:

I have also seen black pectorals, ventrals, caudals, and in my F1 - black second fins.
Thus, all the fins also have the potential to become black. IMO the most difficult to find are black pectorals and black ventrals.

Another variable is the degree of blackness - I think that makes a big difference. IMO the really jet black colors are the more permanent ones. Case in point are my male, his daughter, and the new WC male. Jet black fin/body color tends to stay, whereas paler brown/black colors may fade - case in point - my female: her pectorals were black but a little flecked with brown/orange...they are now orange (after many years.....maybe related to water quality?)

My aim - to linebreed/inbreed so I can get the solid black coloration fully on the body and fins......
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Postby DrHsu » Wed Dec 05, 2007 2:30 am

Genetics

As for the genetics of all this, IMO the degree of blackness and extent of black are both probably controlled my multiple genes, or genes that have variable expression. (My genetics is rusty so the terms may not be all that accurate... :oops: )

IMO the gene/s are present in the general population in certain locales. In the wild, there is almost always mixing of these genes. So....sometimes when the mix is right, you get nice black percs. If not - regular colored ones. However, they may still carry some of the "good" (in our view) genes some of their offspring will carry them. If these offspring mate with another with a complementary set of these "good" genes, then more black percs may result.

It is definately not simple Mendelian genetics, otherwise it would be an all-or-nothing kind of thing.....
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Postby DrHsu » Wed Dec 05, 2007 2:35 am

Oh....BTW, there is a newish thread on "the other forum" that discussed the term "black percula" a little....with my male as the "star" :lol:

Still seems to be a lot of confusion over all these terms....

http://www.reefcentral.com/forums/showthread.php?s=&threadid=1257636
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Postby mpedersen » Wed Dec 05, 2007 2:51 am

Li Chen...I just wanted to post up this picture to verify that this is the fish you are talking about (found it embedded in the RC thread)

Image

FWIW, that is an Onyx Percula on crack!!! That's just insane amounts of black. If you cram much more black onto that fish it's just gonna be a Black Ocellaris!!!!

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Postby DrHsu » Wed Dec 05, 2007 2:55 am

Yes....that's my male - the Black Ocellaris wannabe :lol: :lol:

That is also the type of jet black I am talking about.....
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Postby mpedersen » Wed Dec 05, 2007 2:59 am

So I did some followup reading and in a couple posts now, folks have mentioned that their "Black" A. percula have, at times, had things fade. So it would seem that at least in some cases, the black coloration can go away (turn back to orange) just as quickly as it develops?!

If that's the case, to mean that simply bolsters the "environmental cause" theory further!

I agree with you on the genetics, it sounds like it's certainly more complex than something like being "albino" ;)

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LiveAquaria.com Diver's Den Onyx Percula Pairs

Postby mpedersen » Wed Dec 05, 2007 3:31 am

So for the last year+ I've been saving all the assorted pairs of fish that show up in the LiveAquaria.com "Diver's Den". I managed to save 17 unique listings for Onyx Percula PAIRS, presumeably all Wild Caught. I knew these would come in handy at some point!

---------------------

Here's a quick coloration survey of the fish being sold as "Onyx" by LiveAquaria.com:

Full Black Between Bars 1 and 2 - 33/34 (one female less than 50% coverage, more or less a "black belly) between Stripes #1 and #2

Full Black Between Bars 2 and 3 - 26/34 - many other seemed "close", but not fully there

No Black on the Spiny Dorsal - 26/34 have solid orange spine dorsals

Solid Black Spiny Dorsal - 3/34 had solid (or just shy of) black coverage

Black Outlines on Spiny Dorsal - 4/34 had black outlines on the spiney dorsal

Heavy Black outline on Spiny Dorsal - 1/34 had a really unsual thick black outline on the spiney dorsal

Abberant Tail Stripe - 17/34 had either broken or irregularly shaped tail stripes

Black Tail - 1/34 had a black tail

Black Anal Fin - 1/34 had a black anal fin (same fish that had black tail and was otherwise very unsually marked on the flank as well)

Black Soft Dorsals - 0/34

Fully Black Pelvic Fins - 0/34

Fully Black Pectoral Fins - 0/34

----------------

So anyone with some really good connections to the folks in charge of the SW fish at the Rhinelander Facility, I'd love to know a couple things about LiveAquaria's Onyx Perculas. First, do they specifically order them as Onyx Perculas, or do they hand-pick them out of their general Percula Shipments? Do their wild collected Onyx come from one particular location, or multiple, and which ones?

----------------

One other thing I've mused on in the past is that on several Indonisian Exporter's lists I've seen a clown called the "Negro" clown. It carries a rediculous price compared to the rest of the stuff on the list (including regular true Percs). I've long since suspected that the "Negro" clown is actually the "Onyx" Percula, but I have no proof. Can anyone officially make that connection?

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Re:

Postby mpedersen » Wed Dec 05, 2007 3:39 am

DrHsu wrote:Matt,

One question regarding your conversation with Bill - did he qualify what he meant by the "onyx coloration at 4-6 months"? ie what was the criteria that C-Quest used when they picked them out at that age - black dorsal, black between first two bars, black between all the bars, fully black between all the bars, combination of dorsal fin black with black between bar 1 and 2, combination of black dorsal with black between all the bars? etc etc. If he didn't, could you pls ask him when you next talk to him?


While I didn't ask him, what I would infer, based only on the 4 I saw shipped to the LFS, would be that they show black between #1 and #2, and while not fully black between #2 and #3, it's certainly connected or heading in that direction, and in general a black dorsal fin but not necessarily so.

If I get the opportunity to speak with Bill again, I will surely ask him "what is the official C-Quest definition of an Onyx Percula".

Regarding the black dorsal - also definately found in the wild.


You are correct. In looking through the 34 "Onyx" perculas I've saved from LiveAquaria.com over the past year, 3/34 had black dorsals. That's rougly 10% of the "Wild" "Onyx" that they sold. It certainly seems that in the C-Quest line, the Black Dorsal fin is far more prevalent than 10% of the offspring.

My aim - to linebreed/inbreed so I can get the solid black coloration fully on the body and fins......


Including the face, or would you let the face stay orange? A solidly fully black percula, black on all fins and body parts, save white stripes, really seems like the exact same thing as A. ocellaris "Darwin"! What if you just left the face orange (seems like the once place where the exessive black doesn't occur)...you could call them "redhead" or "rummynose" perculas ;)

Li Chen, in your F1 generation, how long did it take for your offspring to fully color up? How many grew into what you would consider to be "Onyx" coloration?

If anything, I think this thead simply proves how "variable" the "Onyx" name can be applied. I've been trying to stick with the premise that the only 100% sure way to be sure you get the coloration you're looking for is to purchase a fish already showing that coloration. Otherwise, it's always a gamble!!!

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Postby criccio » Wed Dec 05, 2007 9:35 am

Matt,

I wouldn't hesitate to contact Kevin Kohen at LA. He's the aquatic director and has been very personable with me via emails. I can't imagine him not answering any of your questions. If you would like his email shoot me a pm.

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Re:

Postby shred5 » Wed Dec 05, 2007 11:28 am

mpedersen wrote:So I did some followup reading and in a couple posts now, folks have mentioned that their "Black" A. percula have, at times, had things fade. So it would seem that at least in some cases, the black coloration can go away (turn back to orange) just as quickly as it develops?!

If that's the case, to mean that simply bolsters the "environmental cause" theory further!

I agree with you on the genetics, it sounds like it's certainly more complex than something like being "albino" ;)

Matt


You might be talking about some of my posts because I have seen this... But the black does not go away it just gets lighter. My female has darkened up some again and the male did not.

It is kind of like this: the onyx clown has a base color of orange and the black develops over this ( I am not sure this is really how it work but this is how it looks). The black just gets lighter, it is still there in the same spots it just that the orange starts to show through more. We know that pigments in fish can change pretty rapidly.

I have heard people claim all sorts of reasons this happens.. Mine did it after i went from 65 watts pc to (2) 23 watts t-5 but I also removed the sand bed. Lighting was prettty compairable.

Some people say the background color can affect coloration in fish, Lighting can be another factor. I could see where background color could change the color of any fish that is trying to fit into the landscape so they are not seen as easily. This could be the case with me removing the sandbed.

Another one is people that have clowns who host in BTA's. Mine was hosting in a BTA but I am not sure I beleive this because I have seen some real black onyx clowns hosting in BTA's.



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Re:

Postby shred5 » Wed Dec 05, 2007 11:44 am

criccio wrote:Matt,

I wouldn't hesitate to contact Kevin Kohen at LA. He's the aquatic director and has been very personable with me via emails. I can't imagine him not answering any of your questions. If you would like his email shoot me a pm.

Chris


Kevin does know his stuff that is for sure and a good guy... Not sure He would know about the onyx though because they ship out of calif... The stuff Kevin handles is the aquaculture stuff and diver den stuff. The rest of the stuff on LA comes out of California. But he might be able to find out.

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Re:

Postby mpedersen » Wed Dec 05, 2007 1:24 pm

shred5 wrote:Another one is people that have clowns who host in BTA's. Mine was hosting in a BTA but I am not sure I beleive this because I have seen some real black onyx clowns hosting in BTA's.


Dave raises a really good point - several people have suggested that it is the HOST that the Onyx Clowns use that determines whether they color up black or not. I'd instantly throw back that at least in short term situations, even having no-host doesn't mean that the fish will lose their black coloration, and it would seem that the fish can develop intense amounts of black without a host at all.

Dave also raised the issue of Background Color - if there was nothing other than the 4 walls and the substrate, I could see this potentially playing a role (i.e. I've seen things like a Seargent Major turn solid black in an empty black-walled aquarium so it blends in). In the typical aquarium though, there are other factors at play. I've seen Onyx Perculas growing up in tanks without "backgrounds" at all too...

Kevin does know his stuff that is for sure and a good guy... Not sure He would know about the onyx though because they ship out of calif... The stuff Kevin handles is the aquaculture stuff and diver den stuff. The rest of the stuff on LA comes out of California. But he might be able to find out.


Chris, Dave, if either of you want to get in touch with Kevin, you both already have a better knowledge / familiarity than I do. What I sould point out Dave is that I was talking about "Onyx Perculas" that have shown up in the Diver's Den. I've never seen "Onyx" Perculas being offered on the "regular list", only in the Diver's Den, which means they're all shipping from the Rhinelander Facility and means Kevin would know something about them.

FWIW,

Matt
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Re:

Postby shred5 » Wed Dec 05, 2007 1:52 pm

Chris, Dave, if either of you want to get in touch with Kevin, you both already have a better knowledge / familiarity than I do. What I sould point out Dave is that I was talking about "Onyx Perculas" that have shown up in the Diver's Den. I've never seen "Onyx" Perculas being offered on the "regular list", only in the Diver's Den, which means they're all shipping from the Rhinelander Facility and means Kevin would know something about them.

FWIW,

Matt


Ah ok. I always saw them under the normal clownfish section.. I have not looked in the divers den much lately. Might have moved them there due to the high prices they seem to get for them. I know the black & White Occ. gets listed in both sections.

A friend of mine is good friends with him and that is how I met him. I will talk to my friend and see if he can get Kevin to come here and post on the subject. He is also in RC irc chat once in a while.

People should go to the Dr. F&S frag swap.. They have tour of the aquaculture facility and it is the most impressive thing I have ever seen in this hobby. The place is huge and super clean with halides on movable tracks. I wish I would have taken pics. I can not wait for this years frag swap.

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Re:

Postby mpedersen » Wed Dec 05, 2007 2:03 pm

shred5 wrote:People should go to the Dr. F&S frag swap.. They have tour of the aquaculture facility and it is the most impressive thing I have ever seen in this hobby.


I'm thinking about it...there's some good fly fishing up in northern Wisconsin too ;)

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Sustainable Aquatics F1 Onyx

Postby mpedersen » Thu Dec 06, 2007 3:01 am

Ok, so Matt C. (Fishboy42), I gotta drag you into this discussion.

I noticed this little snippet on Matt's new website:

http://www.sustainableaquatics.com/news ... eeders.htm

Here is our exceptional wild caught breeding pair of the "onyx" color form of Amphiprion percula. These are the parents of our exclusive "Tennessee Onyx" variety. Color development requires about 18 months. The young pairs pictured in our catalog will achieve full coloration after a few months in your aquarium.


So Matt is offering up F1 "Tennessee Onyx" perculas, also referred to elsewhere in the site as "SA Onxy" (SA for Sustainable Aquatics I presume). On Matt's site there are fully barred Perculas listed as the "SA Onyx" as young pairs, all of these pairs show really almost no black. I'm bring this up to ask simply how old are the fish pictured, how are they being raised at SA, what percentage of the F1 offspring develop the black flanked coloration, and what seems to bring on that final black mature coloration?

Matt?!! ;)
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Postby Fishboy42 » Thu Dec 06, 2007 12:54 pm

Thanks for pointing me here Matt, this is a very interesting discussion! Our onyx (should be "SA Onyx" everywhere, but we have a lot of web work still to do!) are from a wild-caught pair.

I checked our logs, and the offspring currently pictured on the website were born on 8/23/06 (Females) and 5/30/07 (males). Although the females are quite old, they do not show any significant black coloration yet.

After separating them into the pairing tanks though (from growout, where they are stocked at 5-15 per gallon in large tanks), they have continued to develop their black coloration at a faster rate than their siblings left in growout.

Several friends of mine who have purchased/traded/received as gifts our onyx clowns have told me that the black fills-in very rapidly (as quickly as three weeks) when they are placed into a reef system. There are many variables to explore there of course! That was one reason that I was so interested to contribute our fish to Colby's project (if you could post a link in this thread Matt for those who haven't seen it? I can't seem to locate it right now) to see if lighting plays a role. We have several thousand of these fish, so it would definitely be valuable to know more about how to bring out their color.

As far as percentages that develop the parent coloration, I can't really say, as we haven't done any official trials/surveys, but all of them seem to develop a large amount of black after they are moved from growout. We have a pair from Morgan at Inland that is cleaning constantly now too, so it will give us another pair to work with in the Onyx department; hopefully we can learn something from them as well.

I won't be able to respond here right away, as I'll be out-of-town for a week, but I would love to continue this discussion.

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Re:

Postby mpedersen » Thu Dec 06, 2007 1:18 pm

Fishboy42 wrote:I won't be able to respond here right away, as I'll be out-of-town for a week, but I would love to continue this discussion.


MATT is one LUCKY dog....I know where he's going and I called him an a-hole over it (in jest of course)! ENJOY THAT TRIP!! I wish my job was THAT exciting!!! Come back safely too!

Our onyx are from a wild-caught pair.


I checked our logs, and the offspring currently pictured on the website were born on 8/23/06 (Females) and 5/30/07 (males). Although the females are quite old, they do not show any significant black coloration yet.


I won't steal Matt's web images and post them here, but yeah, they are fully striped young adults in the pictures (as most of you know, percs take forever to get those darn tail stripes). So the females are 15 months old (1.25 years), and the males are 6 months old (0.5 years).

After separating them into the pairing tanks though (from growout, where they are stocked at 5-15 per gallon in large tanks), they have continued to develop their black coloration at a faster rate than their siblings left in growout.


This kindof leads me to another "factor" I've been wondering about. Perhaps the black isn't so much a function of "age" as it is a function of "maturity", i.e. "sexual maturity"? Basically, when you develop black you're going through Onyx Perc puberty...

Several friends of mine who have purchased/traded/received as gifts our onyx clowns have told me that the black fills-in very rapidly (as quickly as three weeks) when they are placed into a reef system.


So again, herein lies some clues. Reef System = better water quality, strong lighting, and non-crowded conditions (which lead to sexual maturation)

There are many variables to explore there of course!


Indeed!

That was one reason that I was so interested to contribute our fish to Colby's project (if you could post a link in this thread Matt for those who haven't seen it? I can't seem to locate it right now) to see if lighting plays a role.


I actually PM'd Colby, seems like that project will be on hold for a while yet :( I had 40 fish ready to go for him at 30 days of age - oh well, sold 'em off instead! I'm on board for that project too! I'll see if I can find the link and will post it here.

As far as percentages that develop the parent coloration, I can't really say, as we haven't done any official trials/surveys, but all of them seem to develop a large amount of black after they are moved from growout.


Again, the moving from growout. There are several factors IN growout that change when the fish are moved out. My followup question would be if you isolate a pair in house and set them aside for broodstock, do they "black up" quickly? If they DO, and everything else is typical "hatchery" qualities (i.e. elevated nitrate levels, low lighting) then black development would certainly seem to be a fuction of "maturity"!

We have a pair from Morgan at Inland that is cleaning constantly now too, so it will give us another pair to work with in the Onyx department; hopefully we can learn something from them as well.


It's my understanding Inland's Onyx are based on the C-Quest line, which is potentialy a very different genetic starting point for something that "looks" the same as what is found in the wild, but could be caused by totally different genes (or not). That certainly WILL be interesting to see how offspring from the different lines turn out when bred in the same facility!

Again, enjoy that trip you lucky SOB!!!

Matt
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Postby Colby » Fri Dec 07, 2007 4:21 am

I am just as excited as you guys are for the project. While I would love to do the project up at the marine lab, due to my project with clowns next semester, there will not be space.

HOWEVER, within 2 months or so,I should have between ten and twenty tanks I can use for this project. My plan is to use fish from Matt (MWP), Matt (Fishboy42), ORA Picasso's, as well as fish from PNG an SI. I think that with a good sampling of fish from many different lineage's, then the data I get should be pretty substantial.

As a side note, I plan on trying to get my hands on a pair of Matt Carbury's SA Onyx... :lol: BTW Matt, what does the SA stand for?

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Postby Colby » Fri Dec 07, 2007 4:24 am

OMG I need to go to bed...SA=Sustaianable Aquatics..duh... :wink:

I'm a quick one... :roll:

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Re:

Postby mpedersen » Fri Dec 07, 2007 4:54 am

Colby wrote:HOWEVER, within 2 months or so,I should have between ten and twenty tanks I can use for this project. My plan is to use fish from Matt (MWP), Matt (Fishboy42), ORA Picasso's, as well as fish from PNG an SI.


Colby, I would also really try to get a batch to rear from the C-Quest line. I asked Rod to come and check out this thread, but with his food line taking off who knows if he has the time! Anyway, I know that Inland Aquatics is also breeding on the C-Quest line, so there's another potential source for some donated fry. BTW, how many do you need to have in a test group and control group to really have your results considered valid and significant?

Do you happen to have a link to that thread about the "Onyx" experiment? I'd sure like to include it here (been busy doing small web fixes to dig it up)

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Postby Colby » Sat Dec 08, 2007 3:04 am

I will try to look for thread...finals week so I am busy this week.

I plan on 7 tanks for each lighting intensity. Right now I will have to figure ou how I can pay for the lighting and such. I have around 400 Ocellaris that should be able to fund the project, but we will see.

So I am thinking 3 rows, one with a lighting intensity three times that of the one with the least, and the middle one somewhere in there. Also, in order to look at other possible factors in the development of melanin I have been contemplating different variables..

For example, in each set of tanks...

1. Will have a standard white background...it will act as the "control" tank for each row/lighting intensity.

2. A tank with a black background.

3. A tank with sand, LR and macro algae.

4. Somehow keep nematocysts floating in the water, maybe just keep a bunch of anemones in there?

4. A tank with iodine added.

5. A tank with black sand.

6. A tank fed a diet higher in asaxanthin.

7. A tank fed almost exclusively protein.

If anyone has any suggestions or ideas/alterations PLEASE speak up. These are just some brainstorming ideas and I would love to get feedback.

Ideally I would like to have an equal number of fish in each tank representing many different bloodlines...i.e. 2 Matt Onyx, 2. SA Onyx, 2. C-quest Onyx, 2. Picassos, 2. SI Percs and 2. PNG Percs....now I do not know if this is feasible as I would have to work out a way of ID'ing each fish as where it came from. So, for that reason I may have just have to stick with lighting intensity as the first study with a pair or hopefully many more of each bloodline represented in each lighting intensity.

Thanks,

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