GloFish hit pet store shelves - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

GloFish hit pet store shelves

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January 25, 2004

Albany- If you take a look at pet store aquariums, dozens of fish appear to glow, but its these little bio-engineered danios that have created the latest controversy.

"Scientists took a zebra danio which is a little tropical fish and they took a jelly fish and injected it into the cells of the danio baby and this gave them a glowing affect," explains owner Atlas Aquarium Ray Sabine.

Different types of glowing fish have been around for years, but most have just been injected with colored dye.

"Most of the colored fish that they're injecting and dying it does fade. With the danios the color will never fade. It's always going to stay in them because it's genetic. It's in their genes. Even their babies are going to be glowing," says Sabine.

Ray Sabine has sold fish for nearly 20 years and says altering the genetic make-up of pet fish isn't new. Parrot Ciclids are bio-engineered as well.

"They're a cross between two different fish. I think it's some kind of a ciclid and maybe a goldfish or something, but they are definitely genetic. You can look at them and tell they are not natural."

California prohibits the sell of the genetically engineered species, despite assurances that escaped fish are not a threat to waterways, but Sabine and his daughter say research shows the fish can actually protect the environment because GloFish glow brighter as water gets more contaminated.

"Scientists breed these fish to help detect environmental pollutants in the water. They can help determine when our waterways are polluted," says Rachel Sabine.

The Sabines say there's only one drawback to owning a GloFish, they cost three times as much as their non-glowing counterparts.

The Sabine's have only had GloFish for two weeks and say they've sold nearly half of their supply. Scientists are already working to produce green and blue GloFish.

Posted at 7:10 PM by elaine.armstrong@walb.com

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