The Onyx Percula - A conversation with Bill Addison

Postby mpedersen » Fri Mar 14, 2008 2:53 am

I came across something posted by Rod Buehler which really piqued my curiousity:

From: http://reefcentral.com/forums/showthrea ... id=1326699

Its a Hypermelanism caused by accepting a non-natural host such as zoanthids, frogspawns, etc.. Its not harmful or painful. It will usually go away with time (not food.. although I wish I could say that food was a "cure" )


This was in reference to black coloration showing up on a pecula. Now, I have 6 month old babies from my batches with NO host showing black shoulders already, but that also got me to thinking about how my MALE in my pair didn't come in having black, but since then developed it and happens to host in a "frogspawn" (Euphyllia) as Rod described above.

So I have to ask, has anyone else heard of what Rod is talking about above - Hypermelanism? Sure, we've all considered the theory that host plays a role, but this new buzzword, Hypermelanism...is this "real"?!

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Re:

Postby William » Fri Mar 14, 2008 8:28 am

mpedersen wrote:So I have to ask, has anyone else heard of what Rod is talking about above - Hypermelanism? Sure, we've all considered the theory that host plays a role, but this new buzzword, Hypermelanism...is this "real"?!

Matt


Hyper = excessive
melan = dark pigment
ism = this is noun

Sure it is a word, but it is a word describing the symptom (excessive pigment), not the cause.

Lets consider an example that is easier to relate to.

hyperglycemia = hyper-glyc-emia = excessive - glucose - in your blood

This may be caused by a person having a disease (diabetes) or it may just be caused by a healthy person eating 5 lbs of cotton candy. In both cases, the doctor would say that the person has hyperglycemia.


So the moral of the story is that you can call any clownfish that is unusually dark as having Hypermelanism. Describing a clown as having Hypermelanism, is no different than describing it as Melanistic; you are just saying that it is unusually dark.
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Postby Luis A M » Fri Mar 14, 2008 10:20 am

This is redundant.Melanism implies too much melanin.Hyper is not needed.
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Postby mpedersen » Fri Mar 14, 2008 11:27 am

But the hyper implies "Excessive", and what I gathered from Rod's comment is that you can take a normally colored clown, like a perc, and if it hosts in a specific host it will become more black than normal, i.e. hypermelanistic. So I'm wondering if there is scientific literature to back that assertion up, and I wonder if "Hypermelanism" is a name that's been assigned to a scientifically proven phenomenon.

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Re:

Postby William » Fri Mar 14, 2008 11:44 am

Luis A M wrote:This is redundant.Melanism implies too much melanin.Hyper is not needed.


I don't think redundant is the right word. Redundant implys negative connotation, I think a better word would be that they are synonyms.

If anything using hypermelanism is a good thing as you are being more precise/clear as to what you talking about.
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Re:

Postby William » Fri Mar 14, 2008 11:52 am

mpedersen wrote:But the hyper implies "Excessive", and what I gathered from Rod's comment is that you can take a normally colored clown, like a perc, and if it hosts in a specific host it will become more black than normal, i.e. hypermelanistic. So I'm wondering if there is scientific literature to back that assertion up, and I wonder if "Hypermelanism" is a name that's been assigned to a scientifically proven phenomenon.

Matt


Hypermelanism is a name assigned to any time there is excessive melanin regardless of what caused it.
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Re:

Postby KathyL » Fri Mar 14, 2008 12:35 pm

acroporas wrote:
Luis A M wrote:This is redundant.Melanism implies too much melanin.Hyper is not needed.


I don't think redundant is the right word. Redundant implys negative connotation, I think a better word would be that they are synonyms.

If anything using hypermelanism is a good thing as you are being more precise/clear as to what you talking about.


I do think redundant is the right word. Redundant means using more words than is necessary to convey meaning. Nothing negative about it. :D
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Postby mpedersen » Fri Mar 14, 2008 4:03 pm

OK, less discussions about the etymology of the word, more discussions on hyper-melanin-production? :)
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Postby mpedersen » Thu Mar 20, 2008 6:22 pm

This was posted in a separate thread - ( http://www.marinebreeder.org/phpbb/view ... hp?p=19601)

Pictures of Onyx Perculas in the wild in Papua New Guinae - http://www.reefs.org/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=120339

As I stated in the other MOFIB thread, assuming these are all the resident fish in the anemone, it's interesting to note that the two larger ones show full onyx coloration, while the immature / juvenile / surpressed fish lacks the black between the 2nd and 3rd stripe. Provided these assumptions are correct, this image is suggestive that age or sexual maturity may play a role in the development of full onyx coloratoin as some people have speculated. Of course, it certainly doesn't explain how a fully colored WC Onyx can LOSE all its color... :)

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Re:

Postby Luis A M » Thu Mar 20, 2008 8:41 pm

KathyL wrote:
acroporas wrote:
Luis A M wrote:This is redundant.Melanism implies too much melanin.Hyper is not needed.


I don't think redundant is the right word. Redundant implys negative connotation, I think a better word would be that they are synonyms.

If anything using hypermelanism is a good thing as you are being more precise/clear as to what you talking about.


I do think redundant is the right word. Redundant means using more words than is necessary to convey meaning. Nothing negative about it. :D

See that black mollies and many other black strains of different animals are called melanistic not "hypermelanistic" :wink:
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Postby mpedersen » Thu Mar 20, 2008 9:10 pm

Luis, here is the difference. Black mollies are melanistic, in that they'll ALWAYS be black. The term hypermelanistic implies that the organism is producing more melanin than is normal or should be produced, which was the meaning conveyed in what Rod has written...that is placing a percula with certain hosts will may CAUSE the fish to produce more melanin, aka. "be in a hypermelanistic" state. I wonder if this is the case with the wild caught "Onyx" that LOST its black flanks when I placed it in my SPS reef (and it started hosting in Xenia).

HMM

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Re:

Postby mpedersen » Wed Apr 16, 2008 1:44 am

mpedersen wrote:This just shot the Light Hypothesis to sh*t - the WC Onyx I found..look at it now after living under a 150 watt MH...photo shot on 2-12-08:

[ http://www.cichlidrecipe.com/nanoreef08/DSCN3870_wc_onyx_reverting.jpg ]

It's hosting in Xenia...I'm starting to think that maybe it IS the host????

Matt


So this fish, it just hit me. It all makes sense. Well, rather, BILL ADDISON'S line at C-QUEST makes sense as to how it came into being. I mean, look at the picture above. We all agree that when I purchased that fish, it was an ONYX Percula, and yet now it looks like a regular orange true percula. So what are we looking at then? Is it an Onyx Percula, or is it just any other True Percula?

The answer, in my book, is that we are looking at a fish which has the genetic ability to express a solid black coloration on the flanks, but there is 100% an external factor, outside of genetics, that caused it to express that black coloration. We all *thought* it was light, and well, it still could be, but it may be host, diet, or something else yet not know. The point being, this fish HAS the genes even though it is currently not expressing them. It both IS, and yet IS NOT, an Onyx Percula.

That said, we look at other True Percula lines and we do not see them developing the full Onyx Coloration (i.e. Carl's Clowns). So there is certainly a genetic component that must be present. Bill Addison cited WC "Onyx" being collected only in shallow water (is it the light in the shallow water, or is it a host that only lives in shallow water?)

These are all questions that remain to be answered, but this fish unlocked an important lock towards unraveling the mystery. IF Bill Addison had been using a specimen like this one in his breeding, it is certainly possible that what could outwardly appear to simply be a True Percula could in fact carry the genetic ability to express full black flanks as part of it's coloration. The fish pictured above certainly has that, yet currently does not show it due to some external factor. Breeding with a fish like this one easily explains how offspring from "normal" parents could turn up as "Onyx".

So this both makes me happy and sad...we're still looking for an external factor that plays a roll in Onyx Perculas showing their full coloration! Host, lighting, sexual maturity?

For those that don't follow my Onyx Breeding Log, I did mention that I moved the above WC fish into a breeder net with one of my Onyx Offspring and a Stichlodactyla haddoni carpet anemone. The breeder net is in the same tank as my Onyx Percula parents. So, going forward, the "non-onyx" will be basically in the same environment, with the same food, as my Onyx Broodstock. What is different is that they are up closer to the lights and they have a different host (Which they currently refuse to use). I'm also trying to sell the host, so this experiment may be short-lived..but for the time being, maybe we'll see some sign that says the black is coming back?!

FWIW,

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Postby anemone123 » Tue Apr 29, 2008 3:47 pm

With no scientific proof at all here is my 2 cents on the matter. My favorite two fish are percula's and ocellaris. Over the years I have had a few dozen of each. I have had them under Metal Halides, power compacts, and ambient lighting. I have black ocellaris, orange ocellaris, true perculas, and at one time had onyx perculas.

My theory,

Think of the cells on the scales of a fish like a checkerboard. Some orange, some black. I am leaving the white stripes alone. Genetics decides which pigment is in which cells. So from a purely genetic viewpoint it is possible to have all black just by getting all the pigments in all the cells black. This is what we are getting very close to in the black ocellaris. Now from an environmental side, each cell reacts to its surroundings by getting lighter or darker. Back to WC perculas, if they have a orange and black checkerboard of cells then they have the ability to change from orange to black based on the environmental factors they are exposed to. If the orange cells get larger and the black cells get smaller the predominate color would be orange. If the orange cells get smaller and the black cells get bigger then the predominate color would be black.

The environmental factor I have personally seen the most change with is UV light from a metal halide bulb. It has caused my maroons to get dark brown from originally being maroon. It made my almost yellow percula's turn bright orange and I think it increases the blackness of any clown that has black cells. Which agree's with Matt's sun tan theory.

My observations have not noted any signifcant change due to host, diet, background color of the tank, but that doesn't mean they don't have an affect.

I do think stress has a impact on color but don't have any idea why. I have just noticed some of my fish are not as brightly colored after they have been moved or gotten sick.
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\"NEW\" Old Onyx Article

Postby mpedersen » Thu May 01, 2008 1:19 am

I stumbled across this and HAVE to put this into the mix. Maybe Bill neglected to tell me something about his original broodstock that threw the "onyx"?

http://www.augsburg.edu/home/biology/aq ... _eggs.html

Captive-bred pair of Solomon Island Black Percula Clownfish, Amphiprion percula

Top fish male, larger fish below is female

(August 23, 2000, photo taken a few hours before they laid the eggs shown below)

These fish were produced by C-Quest , an ornamental marine fish propagation facility in Puerto Rico, and purchased in early Fall 1998 from Inland Aquatics (Terre Haute, Indiana)


So what I find interesting here is that the fish are being called "SOLOMON ISLAND BLACK PERCULA". And then, it goes on to cite that these are fish produced by C-Quest (aka. the "C-Quest" Line) and purchased through Inland Aquatics (same route Rod's Onyx line came through). So, is in fact the C-Quest line derived from Solomon Island parentage? How did this person know his C-Quest line was "SI" percs? One can only assume that that information was passed along at some point, or it was mis-appropriated (i.e. someone decided to label them SI percs somewhere in the chain of distribution). Frankly, I really need to take a trip down to Inland Aquatics to talk to them about what they know of the "Onyx" perc.

And here's an even more interesting part to this particular example. The picture is really too small, but in this picture of the pair in an earlier article, the male is in the background and it appears he does not yet have the black between bars #2 and #3.

http://www.augsburg.edu/home/biology/aq ... About.html

So as of 3-23-99, the male was not fully colored. But by 8-23-2000 it was. It's also interesting to note that this pair was purchased in '98. So a potentially substantial amount of time for the male to get his full onyx coloration, on the order of 1 year + post purchase minimally!

Even more interesting is how this pair mimics the coloration discrepencies in my own pair, where the larger female is a less intense orange-yellow with the male being a vibrant deep orange.

Just some more interesting observations on this intriguing fish.
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Postby LargeAngels » Thu May 01, 2008 8:43 am

I purchased a pair of wild caught "SI Onyx Percs" from Morgan Lidster (which I believe he called mostly black percs at the time) a couple of years before these C-Quest tank raised Onyx percs came out. I believe the mostly black/onyx were comming from SI as I know Morgan told me my pair was from SI.
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Is \"Onyx\" an \"Epigentic\" Trait?

Postby mpedersen » Sun Jun 08, 2008 3:23 am

Frank Marini recently threw a term out there that many of us were not familiar with - "Epigenetic" - http://www.marinebreeder.org/phpbb/view ... epigenetic

In researching to add this and other "Genetics" oriented terminology to the glossary / dictionary, a "light" went off. Frank put it very elegantly in the post I linked above:

fmarini wrote:There appears to be both a genetic and epigenetic component to clown barring.


This means that there is a) a basis for how clownfish bar up in the genes and b) the environment or other "ex-genetic" factors may be at play in how these genes are expressed as the fish developes.

And that's when it hit me. "Epigenetic", the "concept" anyway, fits rather nicely with all the issues surrounding the "ONYX" Percula. At least it does to me, given the notion that it seems you cannot force a Percula to simply get black flanks (a form of incomplete or maybe "mild" hypermelanism) by manipulating the environment. At least I'm not aware of anyone who's TRIED to do that with "non-onyx" clown offspring. Yet at the same time, simply having come from parents that may carry a genetic base to have black flanks does not guarantee that "Black Flanks" will be expressed. Even more curious was having "Onyx" perculas LOSE the black coloration for undertermined reasons.

Having a term that describes how this "trait" occurs, that is, to call "Onyx" an "EPIGENETIC" phenomenon, simply does not answer any questions. Far from it, it only raises more. That said, we have at least a bit of hope in the notion that there are other scenarious where genetic expression can be influenced by external (environmental) factors, and as such, we have paralelles to research....

HMMMMMMM

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Postby mpedersen » Wed Jul 02, 2008 2:07 pm

A couple quick notes, that I'm crossposting here and in my own Onxy Perc Breeding log:

#1. Despite spending a couple months in the same water as my Onyx Pair, the WC Onyx that lost it's black did not regain it. I have sold the pair and there will be another thread picking up where I left off with them (here's that thread - http://www.marinebreeder.org/phpbb/viewtopic.php?t=2978 )

#2. There's a local guy (Hector) who's purchased a few sets of offspring from my Onyx Percs. Here's the interesting observation. His Girlfriend has 2 of them in a nanocube lit with a HQI metal halide (either 70 watt but probably 150 watt). NEITHER of the F1 Onyx Percs has developed ANY black. Yet the ones that Hector has in another tank are almost solidly black on the flanks now. This only adds further annecdotal evidence onto the huge pile that suggests that development of the Onyx Coloration is dependant on EXTERNAL Factors, assuming that the ABILITY to have the Onyx coloration is passed along to all offspring....

FWIW,

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Postby DrHsu » Wed Jul 02, 2008 10:50 pm

Posting this here as I think this is the thread with the most discussion on the onyx coloration.

With reference to the super percula from PNG that I posted about in the News forum, I would like to bring up some observations that I have from my own experiences with wc and my own F1 percs.

Firstly, if you look at the PNG super - you will note that the fins of this particular fish are not a solid black - you can see some orange streaking on her pectorals, ventrals and an orange patch on the base of the second dorsal and anal fins.

Secondly, the face of this female is mostly orange with only a thin rim of black edging the white head band.

IMO, black perculas that show these color traits MAY have a higher chance of loosing the black - definately on the fins, and maybe on the body. I think these types of black are more likely to have come about from epigenetic factors (anemone stings causing dermal irritation that leads to hyperpigmentation?)

Not taking away from the uniqueness of that fish, if given the choice, I might pass on this female because of a possibility of loosing the black (have had a number of them that have done so). I would purchase that fish in a moment unless there was another with solid black fins, and black that "bleeds" into the face - these speciment, I believe, are more "color-fast" and more likely to be purely genetic in origin.
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Postby mpedersen » Sun Oct 05, 2008 1:12 am

Guys, a new interesting article is out in the 4th Quarter 2008 edition of Reef Hobbyist Magazine. The article is basically on "Designer Clownfish", but in truth covers Onyx and Picasso Percs.

http://www.reefhobbyistmagazine.com/arc ... e_8-20.htm

Feel free to give it a look...it's interesting to see what Morgan Lidster has to say about their Onyx, as well as Vince's comments on the Picasso Perc. I would, but don't have the time, to pull in the crucial components of this article as they pertain to the discussion.

On a side note, I'll have to confirm this with Rod, but I was told by another breeder that Rod's Onyx *may* be fully barred at a very small size...and we've seen this happen with Picassos and pairs that give off Picassos, and well, Sanjay's Onyx X Darwin Ocellaris all striped up like regular Ocellaris do, so it has me wondering if maybe somewhere in the mix Ocellaris somehow slipped in on these captive strains of "Onyx"? Anyway, in the end we'll likely never really know, but it's interesting reading for any Percula breeder!

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