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Nature Life: Zebra fish and Nature

By Obiabin Onukwugha

The zebrafish is a freshwater fish belonging to the minnow family, of the order Cypriniformes. Native to India, Africa and South Asia, it is a popular aquarium fish. It is both tropical and subtropical.

This fish is omnivorous, primarily eating zooplankton, phytoplankton, insects and insect larvae, although it can eat a variety of other foods, such as worms and small crustaceans if their preferred food sources are not readily available. They are however prey to goldfish and other bigger fishes.

Zebrafish are asynchronous spawners and under optimal conditions (such as food availability and favourable water parameters), they can spawn successfully frequently, even on a daily basis. Zebrafish grow to maturity and are able to breed within 2 to 3 months of age.

Studies reveal that females are able to spawn at intervals of two to three days, laying hundreds of eggs in each clutch. Upon release, embryonic development begins; though in the absence of sperm, growth stops after the first few cell divisions. The zebrafish embryo develops rapidly, with precursors to all major organs appearing within 36 hours of fertilization.

Zebrafish live for approximately 3 years on average and over 5 years maximally in laboratory conditions

Adult zebrafish are able to regenerate different organs, including all fins (32), the spinal cord (33), the retina (34), the heart (35), the telencephalon (36), and the kidney (37).

The small freshwater minnows are said to share close genetic and physiological qualities with humans.

This has made it an important and widely used vertebrate model organism in scientific research, particularly developmental biology, and also gene function, oncology, teratology, and drug development, in particular pre-clinical development. This fish has been modified by researchers to produce many transgenic strains and is used to study many human diseases.

Besides this, the zebrafish is of economic importance. Its availability and cheap nature make it a good choice for low-income families. It is a delight for quick Okro soup, the source for eating boiled yam or plantain and as well pepper soup.



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