You have seen them at the pet store those fluorescent-colored fish that look strikingly familiar. TheyAre called GloFish and thereIs a reason they look familiar. TheyAre nothing more than common species genetically modified for their fluorescent color. Contrary to common misconceptions, they are not injected with dye or artificially colored. They actually inherit their color genetically from their parents, though there is certainly some human intervention involved.
If you have been looking for the perfect way to add some intrigue to your tank, GloFish might just be the solution. Read on to learn more about these amazing fish and how to care for them.
What Are GloFish, Anyway?
If you have never seen GloFish before, the name alone is enough to conjure up an accurate image. These are simply aquarium fish (freshwater species) that have inherited a brilliant fluorescent coloration. GloFish can be found in all colors of the rainbow including red, orange, green, blue, pink, and purple. Of course, each color has its own branded name:
1. Starfire Red
2. Electric Green
3. Sunburst Orange
4. Cosmic Blue
5. Galactic Purple
6. Moonrise Pink
Though GloFish look unnatural compared to most aquarium fish, the characteristic that makes them glow is actually very natural it is called bioluminescence. Bioluminescence is what makes fireflies light up the night sky and it can be seen in a wide variety of underwater creatures. For example, vampire squids native to the deep sea regions excrete a glowing mucus designed to startle predators and hatchet fish are able to adjust the reflections off their bodies with the help of light-producing organs.
Bioluminescence has been the subject of scientific study for decades and fluorescent genes have been adapted as biomarkers for a wide variety of applications. This is how GloFish came to be.
Scientists in Singapore were among the first to genetically modify fish with fluorescent color. The original goal was to develop a species that could identify toxins in the water, making it easier to identify polluted waterways. The first challenge was to insert the genes for fluorescence and then to make that fluorescence a permanent characteristic. Though Singaporean scientists took the first step, the first company to take glowing fish to the public market was based in Texas.
Alan Blake, co-founder and CEO of Yorktown Technologies purchased the license for those permanently fluorescent fish and used it to breed the world�s first fluorescent aquarium fish � the Starfire Red Danio. This species was released in 2003 and, since then, the company has gone on to produce 12 different lines of GloFish including six unique colors and a number of species. These include tetras, barbs, and zebra fish (danios).
GloFish appear normal under white light but become fluorescent under blue light and black light. Though originally regarded with skepticism, GloFish have captured the hearts of many and have also captured roughly 10% of annual aquarium fish industry sales.