Possible sex reversal?

colby

In Memoriam
I have a very strange incident occurring in my tank that I am hoping someone here can help explain to me.

I have a large Ocellaris (7+ years old...)that recently lost his female counterpart. Towards the end of their relationship however hostilities between the pair ensued as it seemed the male was intent on breeding while the female was not. Anyway this clown has been by "himself" for about 4 months I wold say. Actually I take that back he was with a small Ocellaris for about a month and they had seemingly paired up until some swim bladder affliction(I believe) did him in.


So...anywho I was just given a pair of CB Ocellaris from a friend who has had them for over two years. She purchased them as juvies and as expected they did the dance and paired up. The "female" of the pair is roughly 2" where-as the male in accordance is 3/4 "her" size.

So this is where it gets weird...I decided to go against me better judgment and test fate by putting them all in the same aquarium hoping that the two mild mannered "females" could reach an acceptable compromise. Well when I placed them in the tank my original fish pretended like they were not even there as "it"was just looking for dinner. When they finally met up I was afraid I would see the females face off. Quite to my surprise the new "female" showed standard submissive behavior to the big girl and they quickly paired up. I now a have a harem of four Ocellaris (forgot to mention the fourth, he is a little guy about 3/4"). There are no hostilities amongst the family what-so-ever. In fact they quickly set up a territory right next the a very large BTA and have driven off everything that comes close to include the lone Bangaii in their tank, snails and Scarlert hermits. Hell they will even bite a piece of caulerpa if it floats by.

All of my prior knowledge of clownfish would indicate to me that this is a seemingly impossible scenario. I would think that the females would at best just work out sharing the tank with each other. So it seems that there are only three possibilities...

1. The large "female" I had, had never in-fact turned into a female...and for some weird reason they paired up. (This seems unlikely however considering the large one is considerably larger than the new female. Furthermore, the smaller "female"acts just like a male would.)

2. For whatever reason, there could be a lack of stimuli, the pair I just acquired was not actually a pair but simply two "males" living in union. (Again this seems unlikely as the lady I got them from purchased them as little guys and raised them for two years in a tank all by themselves. From a glance one would clearly think they are a pair considering the size difference and behavior.)

3. Unlikely as it seems, perhaps clowns do have the ability to revert back, but just rarely do as they never receive the proper stimuli. In nature if a female shows up at an already occupied anemone the pair just drives her off. However perhaps if they are forced to bed together so to speak as in my tank, maybe the natural instinct to reproduce carries more weight than previously thought. It seems implausible, though possible.

Last and very possible(And my moms favorite scenario.)...the two girls just got fed up with the guys and wanted to try something new...?:rollface:

Anyway so what do all you clown experts think?


Thanks
 

Amphiprion

Premium Member
Hmm, never heard of this happening, honestly. IME, the one female established dominance and wouldn't allow the other to come anywhere near. Are you sure they are 'paired' and not just coexisting? The more dominant, sexually active female would just suppress the lesser one (if it actually tolerated its presence), but according to histological studies, it it shouldn't be able ,physiologically speaking, to change back.
 

GSMguy

New member
<a href=showthread.php?s=&postid=9249549#post9249549 target=_blank>Originally posted</a> by Amphiprion
Hmm, never heard of this happening, honestly. IME, the one female established dominance and wouldn't allow the other to come anywhere near. Are you sure they are 'paired' and not just coexisting? The more dominant, sexually active female would just suppress the lesser one (if it actually tolerated its presence), but according to histological studies, it it shouldn't be able ,physiologically speaking, to change back.
they change back it happens fairly often on RC
 

colby

In Memoriam
No I have no way to positive other than my observations. It appears they have paired due to the belly shaking (and I have seen the difference between establishing pairs and fighting clowns...)and the defending a territory. They bite the rocks even, though they are not cleaning or anything. No, I don;t think that the larger one is suppressing the smaller one as there was never any hostilities among them at all. However the whole family lives together comfortably so I don;t think either that the "pair" is exclusive. The best way to describe it is one big happy family. It is so weird.
 

Amphiprion

Premium Member
<a href=showthread.php?s=&postid=9249659#post9249659 target=_blank>Originally posted</a> by GSMguy
they change back it happens fairly often on RC
When? Please link me to these instances :D
 

JHardman

Premium Member
I doubt there was a reversal, however I think the idea that a clown left alone will turn into a female is not always the case.

Just so I can follow things better... Please post a brief detail, time lines of who was who and who is who now.
 

cschweitzer

New member
There really has been no hard proven studies that say that a clown cannot change back, just that it will normally not happen. In the wild, the chances of being put in that situation are very minimal. A female would have to go to an established harem, the established female would have to accept this female(not likely), the intruding female would have to realize her place and show submission(again, not likely), and they would have to remain together without quarrels. We really don't know, given the opportunity and conditions, whether it can revert. The reasoning is that for a sexual change, usually the dominant fish will be the one to change and the others will be submissive. If you can prove that amphiprion are actually not protandric hermaphrodites, you could change the view of science. it could very well be environmental factors(ie the female is always more dominant, thechances of the above example occurring are minimal, the chances of actually observing that are so much more minute, etc), and given the right environment could revert back. Again, this is not an accepted scientific view, but how many times has science gotten it right the first time?

Again, I would more likely believe that the two you put in were a pair, but not a sexually viable pair. The more dominant of the two fish will always start showing signs of female formation well before the dominant actually begins to change. If the pair you got from your friend were not yet reproducing, this would be my most logical guess.
 

JHardman

Premium Member
<a href=showthread.php?s=&postid=9250025#post9250025 target=_blank>Originally posted</a> by GSMguy
how long could a male stay a male alone? Jhardman

Good question, and one I am still trying to figure out. But I strongly suspect that the conventional wisdom is dead wrong in relation to environmental cues always forcing a unsexed fish to male, a male to female. This is from my own observations.

However I have not see anything that would indicate a reversal of sex.
 

GSMguy

New member
i think you are right people who worry about a juvenile clown left alone for a week turning female are probobly worried for no reason
but as you said the real quesion is what makes them switch
 

JHardman

Premium Member
<a href=showthread.php?s=&postid=9250286#post9250286 target=_blank>Originally posted</a> by GSMguy
i think you are right people who worry about a juvenile clown left alone for a week turning female are probobly worried for no reason
but as you said the real quesion is what makes them switch

There is a lot more to what I am hinting at than that. I just need more evidence before I start spouting...
 

catdoc

Premium Member
<a href=showthread.php?s=&postid=9250025#post9250025 target=_blank>Originally posted</a> by GSMguy
how long could a male stay a male alone? Jhardman

I have a male that I obtained after he'd been in a tank by himself for 6 months, he's a fertile male based on the ready-to-hatch eggs he's guarding today. ;) I posed this same question when I got him, never did get a satisfactory answer to the question of what exactly stimulates/prevents the gender change.

Here's a link to my question (beware, it rehashes my brutal maroon pairing incident ;) )
http://reefcentral.com/forums/showthread.php?s=&threadid=435338&highlight=gender
 

Amphiprion

Premium Member
<a href=showthread.php?s=&postid=9249982#post9249982 target=_blank>Originally posted</a> by JHardman
I doubt there was a reversal, however I think the idea that a clown left alone will turn into a female is not always the case.

Just so I can follow things better... Please post a brief detail, time lines of who was who and who is who now.

That is along the lines of what I was thinking. I talked to a few people and they think that is more likely, also. I am not discounting that a reversal could be possible--it's just that it has never been documented officially or studied (that I could find).

<a href=showthread.php?s=&postid=9250259#post9250259 target=_blank>Originally posted</a> by JHardman
Good question, and one I am still trying to figure out. But I strongly suspect that the conventional wisdom is dead wrong in relation to environmental cues always forcing a unsexed fish to male, a male to female. This is from my own observations.

However I have not see anything that would indicate a reversal of sex.

I think that is worthwhile. It will be hard to argue against, though. There is quite a bit of evidence, including hormone measurements, etc. that change simply after removal of a dominant female, but (interestingly enough) don't always attain full female levels even after extended periods (>20days). Then, upon addition of submales (or just small males) completed this change. It will be interesting to see what surfaces.
 
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colby

In Memoriam
Cool...

Okay here is a more concise time line that hopefully will not be as ambiguous as my last attempt lol...

1. Female from original pair died...male alone for about 1 month

2. Introduced lttle Ocellaris and "INSTA-PAIR"!!!!

3. Little Ocellaris died, swim bladder somethin or other I believe.

4. Original "male" alone for about three months.

5. Introduced "pre-established pair" and little juvie.

At this point the clowns all formed a little clan with the new "female" breaking it off with her mate a little to hang with the original "female..err...male?"

Anway that is how it stands. I am begging to wonder if sex reversal is in fact possible as it has been documented in other protygeneous hermaphrodites.

Thanks guys
 

EMBRYOGUY

New member
Together for 1.5 yrs. showed all signs of submission etc. but no spawn. so i cant say for sure what sex this clown was. prior to this pairing, it was always the dominate clown with its two previous partners.
perfectpair3146B.jpg


same clown now spawing with new larger female. this larger wc clown was alone for about a year prior to this. now together for about 6 months now. the smaller clown showed immediate submission. spawned within 2-3 months of acclimation
jigsawonyxpair121606Spawn3016.jpg


what does this all prove? who knows. clowns are just crazy. i just throw them together and hope they dont kill each other and hope for the best. worse case scenario, they look nice together.:)
 

JHardman

Premium Member
<a href=showthread.php?s=&postid=9251072#post9251072 target=_blank>Originally posted</a> by Amphiprion
I think that is worthwhile. It will be hard to argue against, though. There is quite a bit of evidence, including hormone measurements, etc. that change simply after removal of a dominant female, but (interestingly enough) don't always attain full female levels even after extended periods (>20days). Then, upon addition of submales (or just small males) completed this change. It will be interesting to see what surfaces.

I am not quite ready to put everything on the table yet, but here is one example I have personally observed.

Mature, productive (read actively spawning) male loses female. Is left to his own for >6 months in a effort to insure a sex change has occurred.

The now larger "male" that by all common wisdom should be a female is paired with a 12 month old juvenile from a community tank of ~100 fish. This juvi was picked because it was a tank bully, nicely formed and colored.

No noticeable pairing behavior observed (aggressive/submissive), however the fish acted as paired.

Two weeks after pair, much to my shock there is a small nest in their pot. Once the pair settles down and sees they are not getting fed and go back to their "normal" behavior I expect to see the new small "male" from the community tank tend the nest.

Nope, the "female" is tending the nest. Oh well no big thing, I have had very good nest tending females in the past.

Nest hatches into the tank several days later. I plan to let several go until they get their act together and are producing large nests.

Next night I catch them "rubbing belly" on the pot. WHAT!!! Wait a minute, the "little male" from the community tank has "his" I mean HER ovipositor down laying eggs and the "female" is coming back and doing the classic male fertilization run.

Yep, 7 days later there newly hatched larva in the tank. A productive nest.

The only solid conclusion that can be logically gained from this, is that the would be "female", despite being left isolated in a tank alone for >6 months, that slightly increased in size, did not turn female.
 
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