Zebrafish (Danio rerio)

These little fish grow to only two inches in length, hardly big enough to attract the notice ofmany, but their size belies their importance in developmental biology. Zebrafish are native to the Ganges river, but we see them mostly in tropical fish stores. They can be purchased there for about a dollar apiece. Zebrafish are easy to keep in captivity. A dozen are quite comfortable in a 10-gallon aquarium, where they can live, grow and reproduce. They are normally summer spawners. We can trick them into giving eggs year round by keeping the lights on above their tank for 14 hours each day, simulating summertime conditions. In that case a well-fed female will deposit 200-300 eggs about twice a week throughout the year.

Zebrafish.gifPhotoby Shuo Lin

Here are two zebrafish, one wild-type and one albino. It's easy to see how zebrafish got their name. I use various color varieties in studies of how patterns are established in embryos.

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