Meet the Mosquito Fish.
A common question Behavior Ecologist Amelia Munson often hears is, “What animals do you work with?” That is, after “Do you want to be a Vet?” (which is a no 😊) As a Behavioral Ecologist, Amelia has a lot of friends who work with all kinds of animals. These include fascinating animals like Basking Sharks, which are the second-largest shark in the word, and hang out in amazing places like off the coast of Ireland and Santa Barbara. Another friend studies Pikachu’s–No, not the Pokémon. These Pikachu’s hang out in trees in Panama and are the living embodiment of adorable.
Amelia herself studies Mosquitofish!
They may not hang out in the waves of Santa Barbara, but instead in some less desirable places like drainage ditches and flooded parking lots. If asked to give a visual description, they’re bland.
But, Mosquitofish are amazing and very undersold!
There’s actually a golden statue of a Mosquitofish in Russia to commemorate the role they played in the eradication of malaria!
They’ve had a wide impact with humans and other animals, all over the world. For one, they’re found on 6 of the 7 continents because they’re incredibly invasive.
Reasons Mosquitofish are secretly awesome:
- They have an incredible temperature tolerance. They can be found in water that is freezing cold, or up to 108 degrees Fahrenheit!
- They can deal with low oxygen. Just like other animals, fish require oxygen. That’s why you typically have to add a bubbler to a fish tank. Mosquitofish, however, can go up to the surface and do a mouth breathing thing, and need less oxygen anyway.
- Survive even in high salt! Despite the fact that they are fresh water fish, some papers claim they can survive in environments twice as salty as the ocean.
- Give birth to live young. Most fish people know of fertilize eggs outside of the body, but for Mosquitofish the males have a modified fin to deliver sperm to the females. So, the female Mosquitofish holds the fertilized eggs inside her in a pouch and then gives birth to tiny baby fish. One benefit, it there are lots of animals that love to eat fish eggs and the eggs are very vulnerable. These baby Mosquitofish have huge eyes and tails so they can swim away! And, some may even say they are almost kitten level cute 😉
Though, it should be noted that while they give their offspring a leg up with live birth, they’re only mediocre parents. Some fish keep their babies in their mouth even after they’ve hatched from their eggs to protect them. With Mosquitofish, in the lab it can be hard to keep the parents from eating their live young… So, not great parents but still awesome fish!
Overall, Mosquitofish are SURVIVORS.
There are all sorts of challenges in our world, especially in a changing environment, that animals have to deal with. Some are not thriving as well as others.
Mosquitofish are doing very well. Understanding why the Mosquitofish is doing so well in a changing environment is one of the questions Amelia is interested in answering. As the world keeps changing, it’s important to not only note who is losing out and struggling, but who is doing well and why.
So, they may not be everyone’s favorite animal but Mosquitofish are awesome and deserve a shout out!
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