Normally I don’t talk about specific fish or products in this space, but this time I am making an exception. Not too long ago, at one of the large industry trade shows, I saw the green tetra for the first time. It is part of the “glofish” family of new, patented fish.
Glofish started off with the modified zebra fish; the green tetra is the second glofish, and there are others already in the pipeline. The original glofish were created in an attempt to develop a fluorescent fish that would serve as an indicator of water pollution. During that process someone realized there was a market for them; Singapore is one of the biggest producers of fish for our hobby.
The green tetra is a variant of that good old standby the black tetra—also known as a black skirt tetra. I’m presuming the white (colorless) version of the black tetra is what was started with, and the developers of the green tetra employed the same genetic technology as they did with the original glofish.
Is this genetic modification? Absolutely. But I am really bored with snooty fish folks who look down on the glofish because they are not “natural.” Get over it. The glofish are not painted, dyed or tattooed fish, which I have no use for at all. But if we toss out all genetically modified fish, we would not have fancy guppies or goldfish, nor swordtails or platies (they came from a cross species hybrid).
Green tetras are produced pretty much like any other fish, although from what I hear they are more difficult to aquaculture in large numbers, hence their pretty hefty price right now. I’m looking at my 300-gallon tank that has glowlight tetras, Asian rummy noses and roseline sharks in it, and in some ways the colors on these naturally occurring fish don’t look any less unrealistic than the glofish and green tetras.
They are selling like crazy, and retail stores out there are making good money selling the green tetras. The important thing is the green tetra was produced using modern genetic modification techniques; in fact, the original fish were developed to detect pollution—what could be better than that? They are a very hardy, easy-to-keep fish and kids love them. One of the biggest problems we have in our industry is that kids are spending all of their time staring at a computer/phone/game screen and not getting at all interested in fishkeeping. If it takes a beautiful and hardy glowing green fish to capture a kid’s attention and imagination, so be it.