» Posted by on Apr 1, 2016 in Blog, Kristen S, Saltwater Fish | Comments Off on Designer Clownfish

Designer Clownfish

Kristen Schmicker


Ocellaris Clownfish

Clownfish are definitely one of the most popular and easy to keep families of saltwater fish. They’re great for beginners; they have great personalities; and many people love observing their symbiotic relationship with anemones. Perhaps the most popular species of clownfish would be Amphiprion ocellaris, or “Nemo” as many people refer to them. Another type of clownfish commonly kept in aquariums would be Amphiprion percula, which can easily be mistaken for A. ocellaris. The easiest way to differentiate the two is to count the spines in their dorsal fin; A. ocellaris typically will have 11 spines and A. percula will have 10. A third popular clownfish species is the maroon clown, Premnas biaculeatus. This species is much more aggressive than A. ocellaris or A. percula, but is just as hardy and easy to keep.

From these three species there have been countless “fancy” or “designer” types available for sale. These different color patterns may occur naturally in the wild or are created through generations of selective breeding. You may notice that these pairs of designer clownfish are much more expensive than their standard counterparts. This is a result of the work that goes in to creating the different, and in some cases, rare patterns on the fish. Another factor is the grading of the pattern. You may notice the word “Ultra”, “Premium”, or “Extreme” before the name of the fish, or it might say “Grade A” or Grade B”. These titles depend on the amount of white on the fish, odd or desirable markings, extra stripes, and in some cases the white stripes have a hint of baby blue in the outline. As you can guess the more of those factors on the clown, the more expensive the fish because in most cases only a handful of clownfish will have those odd patterns.

Snowflake Ocellaris

  1. Ocellaris has perhaps the widest range of patterns out of the three mentioned. One of my favorites is the Naked Ocellaris. These clowns have no white striping whatsoever; this was simply a unique mutation that occurred in the breeding process. A similar type is the Nearly Naked Ocellaris, these clowns have only a single dot behind their head. There are also Misbar Ocellaris where one or more of the stripes did not form completely, or in the case of Extreme Misbar Ocellaris, the stripe is missing altogether. One popular variation are the Snowflake Ocellaris; these were created in the UK through selective breeding of regular A. ocellaris.These also come in Premium, where the first two stripes are joined, and Ultra, which has the most white. Wyoming White Ocellaris were also developed from a regular pair of A. ocellaris; these clowns are almost all white. The DaVinci Ocellaris were created by crossing a Wyoming White with a regular A. ocellaris and the result was an interesting white pattern that resembles a painting. The DaVinci Ocellaris also come in Extreme, Grade A and Grade B depending on the amount of white.

Another naturally occurring color morph of A. ocellaris is the Black Ocellaris, these clowns are completely black and white. Some may possess small amounts of orange

Black Ice Ocellaris

but this is typically lost as they mature. The Black Ocellaris also come in Misbar varieties. The rare Midnight Ocellaris is another unique mutation where the fish is completely black with no white striping. The Domino Ocellaris are the offspring of the Midnight Ocellaris and have only one white spot behind their head. The Black Ice Ocellaris are a cross between a Premium Snowflake and a Black Ocellaris; these also come in Ultra and Premium varieties.


Da Vinci Ocellaris Clownfish

The Mocha Ocellaris (like the ones we bred at our aquaculture facility) are a cross between a regular A. ocellaris and a Black Ocellaris. There are also MochaVinci Ocellaris that were created by crossing a DaVinci Ocellaris with a Black Ocellaris.

  1. Percula has a naturally occurring pattern mutation called a Picasso Percula.

    Picasso Percula Clownfish

    This clown also has unique striping similar to a painting. From the selective breeding of Picasso Perculas, the Platinum Percula was created; this clownfish is also almost completely white. The A. percula come in Misbar varieties as well. The Maine Blizzard Perculas were created by selectively breeding the Premium Picassos; these clowns look very similar to the Wyoming White, the main difference being the species of clownfish. Onyx Perculas were selectively bred to have more black between their stripes. And when an Onyx Percula and a Black Ocellaris were bred the result was the Black Photon Clown.

Maroon Clownfish also come in many varieties. The Goldstripe Maroon is a naturally occurring variation where the stripes are slightly gold rather than yellow.

Gold Stripe Maroon Clownfish

When the Goldstripe Maroons were selectively bred, the Goldflake Maroon was created with extended stripes and spots. One really cool variety is the Lightning Maroon; this rare type occurs naturally and makes the clown look as if it has lightning stripes. Another one of my favorite varieties are the Mai Tai Clowns, these were created by crossing a Maroon Clown with an Ocellaris Clown. The result is a super red Ocellaris-looking clownfish.

Mai Tai Clownfish

No matter what type of clownfish you decide to keep, designer or not, any pair of clowns can be kept in a variety of marine tanks from nano ones to aquariums with hundreds of gallons. It can be hard to pick which designer clowns you like best so come on down to the store and see them for yourself!






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