Those of you who are fans of the nerdy sitcom The Big Bang Theory might remember an episode entitled “The Luminous Fish Effect.” In it, a bored genius scientist decides that he’s going geneticaly alter the DNA of goldfish to create glow-in-dark luminescent fish nightlights. It might sound like a ludicrous idea, but hold onto your pants because scientists have actually already done it.
Taiwanese researchers, who evidently had nothing better to do than play God and fiddle with fish DNA, created a new breed of bioluminescent cichlids. The whole process really wasn’t as high-tech as you might think. The scientists didn’t create these glowing fish with laser beams, exposure to nuclear energy, and the Large Hadron Collider — they did it the old-fashioned way: fish sex. The Council of Agriculture in Taiwan bred together Convict cichlids and angelfish over seven years, tampering with DNA along the way.
It was a long and grueling process. Scientists had to literally sit next to fish tank and wait for the fish to lay their eggs. Once the mama-fish squirted out the eggs, they had an extremely short window to inject gene fragments into the fish eggs while covering the eggs in an electric field (OK, that part is pretty high-tech). The result was a generation of fish babies that gave of an eerie green glow.
Hearing about fish like this is bound to provoke one of two reactions: “That’s terrible” or “Holy-moly I want one.” Those of you who are in boat number two are in luck, because these fish are scheduled to hit the market. The scientists just need to run some basic experiments to make sure that these fish don’t randomly transform into miniature Godzillas and go on a rampage through local ecosystems.
So, to sum it all up, yes: you can own your own fishy nightlight. Eat your heart out Sheldon Cooper.