The McCulloch’s clownfish is the new kid on the aquarium hobby block. And by new, I mean very new. Recently bred in captivity for the first time in America (and the second time in the world) thanks to the efforts of liveaquaria.com Director Kevin Kohen and staff. The rare McCulloch’s clownfish is only found in a limited, protected habitat near Australia.
Kohen mentioned, “We are in the process of raising the larvae, and the breeding pair is very productive, consistently spawning every 12 to 14 days. Raising clownfish is not what we normally do here at Drs. Foster and Smith’s Aquaculture Coral and Marine Life facility (which is located in Rhinelander, Wis.), but between myself and the great staff of people here who are assisting in this endeavor, we are giving this a go, and learning a great deal and overcoming many hurdles along the way through this incredible project.”
Difficulty level: Advanced. Though the McCulloch’s clownfish isn’t especially difficult to keep, because of its rarity it should only be kept by experienced aquarists who are ready to breed it.
Hardiness: The McCulloch’s clownfish is not too difficult to keep. However, once again because of its rarity, it should be treated as a delicate species.
Physical description: Amphiprion mccullochi is a unique, rare clownfish. The McCulloch’s clownfish sports a black body coloration and a single white stripe near its cheeks. Growing to around 4.5 inches, the McCulloch’s clownfish doesn’t get too large.
Climate and range: Limited. Rare in the wild. Amphiprion mccullochi only occurs near Lord Howe Island in the Lord Howe Marine Park, a protected sanctuary. It is generally illegal to collect McCulloch’s clownfish in the wild.
Amphiprion mccullochi normally resides in lagoons and rocky reefs between 7 and 150 feet in depth.
Compatibility: Amphiprion mccullochi normally hosts with bulb-tipped anemones (Entacmaea quadricolor) in the wild, but the McCulloch’s clownfish may also be found with the sebae anemone (Heteractis crispa).
The McCulloch’s clownfish is known to be territorial, and because it is hard to come by it should probably be housed alone in a breeding setup.
Aquarium conditions: For the McCulloch’s clownfish water temperature should be maintained between 72 to 78 degrees Fahrenheit; pH 8.1 to 8.4; dKH 8 to 12; salinity of 35 ppt.
Care considerations: At this time Drs. Foster and Smith is the only commercial breeder of McCulloch’s clownfish, and they only have one breeding pair at the moment. As such, the McCulloch’s clownfish is still quite expensive and supplies are very limited.
Therefore, only the most dedicated hobbyists who are willing to set up a breeding operation should consider keeping the McCulloch’s clownfish.
Update: According to Kevin Kohen, director of LiveAquaria, LiveAquaria sold a pair of McCulloch’s clownfish not too long ago for $5,999.99. Still spawning McCulloch’s clownfish and raising the young, LiveAquaria, through the Divers Den section of their website, is offering single McCulloch’s clownfish for $599.99. Kohen is not aware of other domestic importers of Amphiprion mccullochi, and he believes LiveAquaria is still the only supplier of the McCulloch’s clownfish to U.S. hobbyists.