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Marine Ornamental Fish & Invertebrate Breeders • View topic - The Onyx Percula - A conversation with Bill Addison

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

Last edited by Anonymous on Wed Dec 05, 2007 2:23 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Postby mpedersen » Wed Dec 05, 2007 1:12 am

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Postby mpedersen » Wed Dec 05, 2007 1:15 am

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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......
Li Chieh

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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.....
Li Chieh

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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....

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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" ;)

Matt
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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?

Matt
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Re:

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Sustainable Aquatics F1 Onyx

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