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6:13 PM   December 21, 2014
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Japanese Team Creates Transparent Goldfish

Genetically modified (transgenic) zebra danios (Danio rerio) were originally created for scientific research purposes. It was only after realizing their potential for the ornamental sector were they developed into several color forms, closely followed by medakas or rice fish (Oryzias latipes). Recent news from Japan indicates that we are facing a similar situation with goldfish. However, I am not talking about transgenic goldfish, but transparent, or to be more accurate (in my view), translucent goldfish. Associate biology professor Yutaka Tamaru of Japan’s Mie University and his team of researchers have developed this new goldfish.

Ryukin
This is a ryukin, a variety of goldfish that looks somewhat different to the transparent creation, despite some reports referring to the new fish as a ryukin. Photo by John Dawes
The make-up of the so-called transparent goldfish allows internal organs, such as the heart, to be visible through the flesh. While this fish was developed  for scientific purposes, there can be no doubt that these pale, translucent fish could find a place in the goldfish sector of the aquarium hobby, which is always hungry for innovations.

Besides the heart, the gills and, according to some reports, the blood can also be seen through the body wall. Further, since the pigment-less characteristic should, according to Tamaru, be maintained throughout the life of the fish, he thinks that it will be possible to monitor the above factors throughout the life of each individual fish.

Comparing the new fish to zebra danios, Tamaru said that “…it would be easier to observe how illness could affect its organs. It would be easy to make goldfish produce proteins, look into them in the living body and make use of them for drug discovery research.” The new creation is also viewed as a possible replacement for animal dissections in school biology laboratories.

The scientists have spent two years crossbreeding “pale goldfish” to get to this point. It should therefore be perfectly feasible for experienced goldfish breeders within the ornamental sector to do likewise. Indeed, it would not be at all surprising if some transparent or translucent goldfish make an appearance before too long.

In fact, in view of the Japanese announcement, it’s very possible that more than one of the highly creative Asian goldfish breeders is already working on transparent or translucent fish. We won’t know, of course, until such fish become available, since new breeding programs are, understandably, kept under wraps and only announced once sufficient stocks are available to meet demand.

FOOTNOTE: The only picture of the new transparent goldfish released to date is viewable on several websites, like this one. Some reports refer to the new fish as a ryukin, but it’s not. At least, the official photo (of a young fish) is more like a fantail than anything else. <HOME>


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