Are Glo fish Real? The Quick Life, Type, Tank mates and Food Guide
By Eddie Waithaka @aquariawise
Are glofish real?
Yes, indeed they are.
Glofish fluorescent are specially designed to make your aquarium pop. Surprisingly, they are like any other danio or tetra fish just with a dazzling color upgrade.
Put simply, glofish absorb light and then re-emit it with their fluorescent color appearing brighter as the amount of light increases.
Most importantly, they are not injected, painted or dyed, but instead get their lifelong glow from their parent’s genes.
Nonetheless, they still are modified species and illegal to import or sell in many jurisdictions like the EU, Australia, Japan, and Canada due to general restrictions against genetically modified animals.
Glofish are tropical freshwater fish and require pretty much the same care as any other fish in a tropical aquarium. They can even be added to a community tank to improve the tank flair.
However, glofish are a fairly new add-on to the fish keeping world hence less understood. So in this article, we’ll look at everything there is to know about glofish including: life, care, tankmates, feeding and more.
Glofish is a patented and trademarked brand of genetically engineered fluorescent fish. However, the name is more commonly used to refer to a variety of genetically bioluminescent fish kept in home aquariums.
Today, this fish can be found in the pet stores with colors ranging from red, green, orange-yellow, blue, pink and purple fluorescent colors on the zebrafish versions.
Recently, electric green, sunburst orange, moonrise pink, starfire red, cosmic blue, and galactic purple variants have been introduced through new entrants: tetras, barbs and glo-rainbow sharks.
Before glofish found their way into home aquariums across North America, they were first genetically modified in Singapore. The longterm goal was to detect toxins in water so that polluted waterways could be identified and local communities using the waterways protected.
The eventual goal of the development was for the fish to selectively glow in the presence of toxins.
Glofish will appear bright under normal white light and fluoresce brilliantly under blue light. They are also quite striking under black light in a completely dark room.
How Long Do Glofish Live?
Glofish lifespan is closely related to their duller tropical freshwater relatives. So a danio glofish will live almost as long as a normal zebra danio would.
That being said, most have an average lifespan range of 3 to 5 years. Which is how long most freshwater aquarium fish live anyway.
Usually, glofish will live longer when properly cared for and given the right food. Plus allow enough room in their tank with appropriate temperature and water ph.
Quite obviously, glofish don’t exist naturally in the wild. They were genetically developed by introducing a fluorescent protein gene found in marine organisms in a couple of freshwater fish. The gene is then passed from generation to generation.
Hence, glofish types are only limited to the four tropical species where the bioluminescent gene has been introduced.
#1 — Glofish Danio
Danio glofish were first to be introduced in the fish keeping world and are identical to zebra danios with all classic traits evident.
Apart from the color, there are no other distinguishable physical differences to tell them apart.
Danio glofish are active swimmers that enjoy planted tanks and moderate current and are available in a different glows from red, green, orange-yellow, blue to pink and purple.
#2 — Glofish Tetras
Where as glofish danios have been available in the aquarium fish market for quite some time, tetra types were developed much later. Around 2013, which would make them slightly over 6 years old.
Expect their fluorescent glow, transgenic tetras don’t differ much from their natural forms.
So, you can expect a tetra glofish to grow to about the size of a normal tetra and live for an average of 3 to 5 years. Plus the diet is almost the same.
#3 — Glofish Barbs
Around the same year tetra glofish were developed, a bright green barb with vertical stripes and fins with red edges was introduced. Two years later, a high contrast variant with black stripes and fins appeared and the red glofish bard a little later.
Like the two earlier types, there is no much difference between them and their naturally occurring relatives.
They are active and swim in medium to low tank areas and prefer same water conditions and diet as common tiger barbs. Also, live and grow the same way.
#4 — Glofish Rainbow Shark
Glo sharks are the latest species to be developed. They are significantly larger than the first three and like to hang out at the tank bottom.
The appearance and care this glofish is exactly the same as a normal rainbow shark only difference being the fluorescent glow.
The first glo shark colors were sunburst orange and galactic purple introduced in 2017. The fish is good both for species and community tanks.
Glofish are generally peaceful fish although some danios and barbs can be tail nippers. They will chase other fish around but will rarely inflict damage.
House your glofish with other peaceful fish and species that are compatible with their natural relatives. For instance, place glofish tetras with generally good tetra tankmate.
Also, three out of the four established glofish species are schooling fish that will do best when kept in schools of at least five. Only rainbow sharks are not schooling fish but will still live in harmony with mid-water schooling species like danios.
One thing to note is not all glofish are compatible with the same species, it depends on the specific species.
That being said, here are a couple of fish that are compatible with glofish.
1 Angel fish: Angelfish are one of the most commonly kept freshwater aquarium fish, as well as the most commonly kept cichlid. They are prized for their unique shape, color, and behavior. They will live with tetra and danio glofish no problem but be cautious when keeping them with barbs and glo sharks. 2. Barbs: They are a family lively, hardy and colorful fish. They are all schooling species that do best if kept in groups of at least five or more. The whole family is compatible with all glofish. 3. Betta fish: This is a member of the gourami family that is known to be highly territorial. Bettas are not compatible with most freshwater aquarium fish but will live with danio and tetra glofish. 4. Zebra Danios: Danios are beautiful swimmers with striped black and white zebra patterns. They are true shoaling fish hence kept in groups, luckily they are compatible with all types of glofish. 5. Rainbowfish: The rainbowfish is a family of small, colorful, freshwater fish that like do best with tropical community fish, such as tetras, guppies, and other rainbowfish. They are compatible with all glofish species. 6. Tetras: Tetras are active schooling fish that work well in the peaceful community aquarium. It is ideal to keep six or more fish of the same tetra species in the aquarium. Tetras do best in a well-planted aquarium with moderate lighting. They are compatible with all glofish but you should be cautious if you keep them with glo sharks. 7. Rasbora: This is a genus of fish with several species kept in aquariums. They are mostly compatible with danio, tetra and barb glofish but will live with glofish rainbow sharks with due caution. 8. Tetras: Tetra is the common name of many small freshwater ray-finned fish. They are colorful, peaceful and inexpensive, depending on the specific species. Most tetras are schooling fish, swimming together in groups. Tetras are compatible with all glofish though caution should be taken when housed together with glo sharks.
Glofish Tank and Water Conditions
All glofish are tropical freshwater species and therefore do fine in any fish tank that remains between72°F and 80°F. However, some like glofish danio prefer cooler water and will survive even at 62°F.
If your tank is a little on the chillier side, you should consider getting a fish tank heater.
Keep your aquarium water at a ph level between 6.8 to 7.0 and test it regularly. Mineral in hard water tends to increase alkalinity thus look out for that too.
Another important equipment in a glofish tank is the lighting. A good light fixture will not only let you enjoy the fluorescence of your fish but also keep down their stress level. Though don’t keep your lights on all day. Fish usually need at least 12 hours of rest in darkness to replenish.
Do a 10 to 20 percent water change weekly or biweekly to help remove waste and keep the water safe for your glofish. Add a tank filter as well, also a few plants will go a long way.
Most glofish species including danios, tetras, and barbs will live even in a small 10-gallon fish tank.
Glofish Food and Diet
Glofish are generally not fussy and will eat almost all commercial fish food suitable for zebra danios, tetras or barbs. Hence they don’t need a special diet.
Flake and live food like brine shrimp are good options. That being said, there are special flake foods for tetras, danios, and barbs. And fish wafers for glo sharks. They will also eat frozen foods.
However, it’s imperative not to overfeed your glofish, give them food they can finish in five minutes once or twice a day. And remove any leftovers from the tank to keep your water clean.
Its also important to feed glofish with color enhancing feed.
You may notice some glofish won’t eat food on the surface, in which case, you need to food that will fall into the tank. However, they will at times not go after the ones that hit a certain depth. Learn what you fish like and adapt to their system.
Finally make sure you only feed them pieces they can fit in their mouth, in case your commercial feed came in big portions, chunk them prior to putting them in the tank. Plus make sure the food is not too dry rest you constipate your fish.
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