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Pet Product News Editorial Blog:

November 2, 2012

Selling GloFish Attracts Kids

By David Lass


To say that the tropical fish hobby/industry is changing in terms of what kinds of fish are being offered for sale is an understatement. The commercial fish breeders have always been coming up with new variations of colors, finnage or body shape, especially with livebearers like guppies, swordtails, platies and mollies. But the “GloFish” are really something different.

GloFish started out with genetically modified zebrafish, where a gene from a jellyfish was introduced into the zebrafish’s genes; this gene made the fish glow in certain water conditions. In 2003 Yorktown Technologies obtained the exclusive rights to the GloFish, and the production of them for the fish industry has been tightly controlled.

Glofish in small aquariums are perfect for kids.
That said, the GloFish are great fish—and this comes from someone who would really rather keep mostly wild fish, on natural gravel, with driftwood and plants. The zebrafish varieties of the glofish come in many colors including green, red, yellow and purple. Kids love GloFish and that alone makes them an important innovation for the hobby/industry. In addition, GloFish are fairly hardy fish and easy to take care of. So, if we have a fish that kids like that doesn’t easily crash on them, we should go with it.

I am really sick of hearing from those who call themselves “true hobbyists” how glofish are unnatural, and should be banned from the hobby. In California they are banned, as that state bans any form of genetically modified fish. My response, at least to the snooty hobbyists is “Get over it!” Why are GloFish any different in terms of being genetically modified than and fish that are cross-genus or cross-species—like platies and bloody parrot cichlids? And how about fancy guppies or fancy goldfish? Whether it is done through selective breeding, cross genus or cross species breeding or by the injection of a gene from an invertebrate, I really don’t see the difference.
While I don’t think I would ever keep them myself, I am a big fan of the glofish. If a kid thinks the glofish are nicer than a cardinal tetra that is fine with me—especially since they are a lot easier to keep. At the Global Pet Expo in February 2012, Yorktown and their licensed breeders (Segrest/Ekkwill) showed some other new “glo” type fish, including a tiger barb. I have also heard that “gloangelfish” are coming along.

The first new introduction after the zebra glofish has been the “green tetra”, which is a black tetra that glows green with a red dot on its head. This is a real knockout of a fish, and apparently they have not been able to keep up with the demand. Fortunately, like the zebra glofish the green tetra is a hardy fish that breeds easily, so I would imagine that the production will keep up with demand shortly. It is exciting to see what new fish are coming into our industry, and GloFish are one of the leaders—in my humble opinion.

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