New Aggression In Clown Pair, When To Separate?

Discussion in 'Fish Discussion' started by chipmunkofdoom2, Dec 30, 2017.

  1. chipmunkofdoom2

    chipmunkofdoom2 Always Making Something R2R Supporter Reef Squad R2R Excellence Award Article Contributor

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    Hello all. I have two fish in my 2og long display, a pair of tank-bred true percs from ORA. For some back story, I have had these fish for almost 2 years. I ordered them at the same time and they've been together ever since, and there have never been any other fish in the tank. While they're both very similar in size (perhaps just over 2"), there has never been any aggression whatsoever. They've been inseparable for the last two years. Neither one seemed to make a play for dominance at any point.

    Now, however, things have changed. The one clown, which has more black coloration and may be a bit bigger, is bullying the other. The one who is being bullied keeps running away and submitting (doing the "don't hurt me" shiver), but the aggressor keeps piling on. Every time one of the torn fins heals, another appears a few days later. They can be seen together during the day, but at night they sleep in separate corners of the tank. They've always stayed together at night up until this point.

    The aggression has been going on for a week or two. No changes at all have been made to the tank. I have a bit of nuisance algae, but that has been there the entire time I've had the clowns. If anything, the chemistry has never been more stable.. the few SPS frags I have are showing great and recent growth.

    Is the slightly larger clown finally deciding to establish dominance and become the alpha female? It seems odd that these two would get along so peacefully for almost two straight years, and then start fighting. When should I consider separating them? I am worried about the clown being bullied. I have other tanks and space for the bullied clown, so it wouldn't be difficult to move it. I don't want to interrupt a natural social behavior to establish dominance, but I would also hate to see the poor thing die because of my inaction. I also don't want to keep them separated. I'd much rather them be together.

    Any help would be appreciated. Thank you very much.

    IMG_20171230_124740.jpg
     
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  2. Tahoe61

    Tahoe61 Moderator Staff Member Team R2R R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Showcase Editor Build Thread Contributor Partner Member Partner Member 2018

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    The large one is the female, the smaller the male by now if you had them for 2 years. It would highly unusual that after two years they are not a bonded pair, female/male.
    Female clowns can be brutal, as long as they are both out and the male is eating then I would let them work it out.
    This is really not unusual with matured pairs.
     
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  3. chipmunkofdoom2

    chipmunkofdoom2 Always Making Something R2R Supporter Reef Squad R2R Excellence Award Article Contributor

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    Thank you Tahoe. My only concern was that the clowns are very close in size. The one with more black (the aggressor) is only a very tiny bit larger than the bullied clown. While the bullied clown is submitting and not fighting back, I did not know if the similar sizing would cause any problem with the pairing.

    For now, both clowns are eating. I will keep them together and see how things play out. It was just very odd to see this new aggression all of a sudden.
     
  4. Tahoe61

    Tahoe61 Moderator Staff Member Team R2R R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Showcase Editor Build Thread Contributor Partner Member Partner Member 2018

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    I agree they are about the same size which is unique.

    It took about 2 years for my female B/W miss-bar to develop. Once she did she slammed the male pretty routinely. She would grab him by the fin and beat him up, even if he was showing submissive shaking. They would be fine together for long periods and then out of no where the aggression would set in again and go away.

    My very young Lightening female is really bad to her smaller male, and these are small clowns.

    Only once have I had a female reject a male out of the blue after being bonded for longer periods of time.

    Just make sure the male is eating, if he stops eating, hiding in the corner or near the surface breathing hard I would intervene.

    Good Luck. :)
     
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  5. GoPitt88

    GoPitt88 Active Member

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    Sounds like exactly what I experienced with my, now mated, pair of snowflake clowns. I got them young, and took about 1-1/2 years to get to the stage where yours are at now. Yours may keep doing this for another couple weeks or so. I don't remember exactly how long it took for mine to work things out....but I sure was worried just like you. There, there.......Trust in mother nature and don't meddle....it will be OK
     
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  6. GoPitt88

    GoPitt88 Active Member

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    Here's a picture of mine after spawning for the first time....on the dang heater.....they don't even so much as look at my anemone ☹️[​IMG]
     
  7. GoPitt88

    GoPitt88 Active Member

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    How are things going with your pair of clowns? Any change?
     
  8. chipmunkofdoom2

    chipmunkofdoom2 Always Making Something R2R Supporter Reef Squad R2R Excellence Award Article Contributor

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    Hey @GoPitt88 there hasn't been any significant change in behavior. If anything the female (or the one I assume will be female, the slightly larger and more black clown) has become a bit more aggressive. They are both eating still and the male (the one presumed to be male, the one being bullied) doesn't hang out near the surface.

    I'm keeping an eye on them. I know some aggression during the pairing ritual is natural. An aquarium is an inherently unnatural place though, and if the female beats up on the male, he has nowhere to hide. In the ocean, he could at least flee or find another harem. On the off chance they both are females, they could separate in the ocean. Not so in a captive aquarium.

    I will have to see how they behave over the next few days. I'm going to California for business next week and I'll be gone 5 straight days. I'm hoping relations don't crumble while I'm away.

    Thanks again to everyone for sharing their experiences.
     
  9. chipmunkofdoom2

    chipmunkofdoom2 Always Making Something R2R Supporter Reef Squad R2R Excellence Award Article Contributor

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    A sad conclusion to this story. The tank sitter found the male dried out on the carpet this afternoon. I suspect the aggression from the female drove him to jump. She had been chasing him a lot the past few days. I suppose it's possible that he was running away from her and jumped accidentally. It's always a bit of a gamble to run a tank without a screen or top, and this time it did not pay off. Rest in peace, clownfish. I'm not sure if I'll be getting another. Maybe I'll see if the female gets any larger first.

    Thanks again to all who followed along and offered insight. I appreciate it.
     
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  10. sweendog87

    sweendog87 Member

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    Really sorry to hear that what are your plans for the remaining female rehouse and start again with another bonded pair or get her a larger male maybe would like to know where you went from here
     
  11. chipmunkofdoom2

    chipmunkofdoom2 Always Making Something R2R Supporter Reef Squad R2R Excellence Award Article Contributor

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    Thanks @sweendog87 it was definitely unexpected. My plan for now is to leave the remaining clown alone. If she's not female already, my understanding is that in time, she will become female if left by herself. After she's had some time to herself to complete the change (if she hasn't already), I'm going to try to get another much smaller clown and add it to the tank.

    I think part of the problem is that both clowns were about the same size when they arrived, and the one I suspect to be female was only ever slightly larger than the male. Perhaps she was driven to assert her dominance so forcefully and so often because the other clown's size was perceived as a threat. Maybe this time around, with a smaller tank mate, there will be a bit less aggression after the initial pairing.

    Needless to say I'm going to run a screen top at least during the pairing process.
     
  12. sweendog87

    sweendog87 Member

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    Of course great idea with the smaller male well good luck with all of that keep us posted
     
  13. Luna

    Luna Active Member

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    I was reading and a question popped in my head. Can 2 clowns pair up and mate if there are from the same batch of offsprings. When I bought my 2 clowns from the lfs, they had a new batch in and I’m guessing they came together as siblings (same group). How does that work??
     
  14. Luna

    Luna Active Member

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    Bump
     
  15. sweendog87

    sweendog87 Member

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    Yeah that's fine they will pair eventually
     
  16. cmcoker

    cmcoker Valuable Member R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Build Thread Contributor

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    They can and will. They don't know any better. It would not be a good idea to use as a breeding pair, as with any other animal.
     
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