An exciting development (pun!)
While I was talking to a friend on the phone today, I was gazing at my aquarium and when I spotted this surprising activity, I had to quickly change topics to share my excitement. The Anemone Cube has been running for 3.5 years, and it was my hope that my clownfish would start laying eggs. However, after a while one perished and I was left with only one, a bright orange ocellaris. It grew larger but was lonely. About 18 months ago, I added 16 more clownfish from a local breeder, so that family of tiny clowns were hopefully going to be accepted by 'her' and all would be well. As I watched closely when the clowns were gently released into the tank (a video I shot but never released... I should do that), she watched the new arrivals but didn't venture out into the open. What I saw next warmed my heart: three of the little clowns swam up to her and all three kissed her body, and she accepted the whole lot of them.
They've been together ever since, and she patrols the tank all day long. I've seen some attempts of clowns trying to pair up, but she continues to interfere with that process. Some are still kinda small, but many have grown to be a decent size though not quite rivaling her body size. As far as I can tell, she's the mama in that tank.
What I saw today was her and a dark "mocha" clown swimming around at chunk of the rockwork and they were laying and fertilizing the fresh eggs. How exciting. I glanced over at the clock and it was around 5:45pm. I've always had a theory that clowns place their eggs on the rock around 4:00pm or so. We are in daylight savings time, so it's still close to that timeline.
This wasn't a large clutch, and I'm pretty certain this was her first batch of eggs ever. Clownfish should put down a few hundred eggs at a time, but this was about 90. And it was definitely a trial run, because within another hour or so, half of them were gone. Either they were too aggressive as the mouthed water over them, or they didn't stick well enough, or maybe other clowns snuck in and grabbed a snack. But I'm still happy to see this activity in my tank once again since I'd not seen fish eggs in years.
If you look at this next picture, you can see the female's egg laying mechanism extending out from the base of the white stripe under her belly area. It's called the ovipositor.
If she starts cranking out clutches of eggs regularly, I'll finally try my hand at breeding some clownfish.