UCSB Science Line
Sponge Spicules Nerve Cells Galaxy Abalone Shell Nickel Succinate X-ray Lens Lupine
UCSB Science Line
Home
How it Works
Ask a Question
Search Topics
Webcasts
Our Scientists
Science Links
Contact Information
Does the artificial light effect the pigment of the goldfish? If so, how long do you thing it will take to the goldfish to change color?
Answer 1:

Pigment in goldfish is found in pigment-producing cells called chromatophores, including xanthophores (containing yellow pigment) and erythrophores (containing red pigment). When fish are outdoors, they will receive ultraviolet light (including UVA and UVB light) from the sun. UVA and UVB are both high-energy light, and can be harmful to organisms, however, pigments can provide some protection from this, and ultraviolet light stimulates the chromatophores to produce more pigment. Artificial lights usually only provide a limited spectrum of light compared to sunlight and usually do not produce ultraviolet light. This means that over time, goldfish chromatophores exposed to artificial light will produce less pigment and the goldfish will look paler in color.

The UV light not only impacts the amount of pigments produced, but also the density of the pigments or how spread out in the cell they are, which also affects the coloration of the fish. This response is pretty rapid, so you might notice that when you turn on your fish tank light in the morning, the fish may look paler, but will look more vibrant later in the day.

The coloration of the fish is also due to which pigments are expressed in which combinations, so the type of artificial light may impact the balance of the pigment color types and therefore the overall color of the fish over time. The food the goldfish eats will also affect its color; most goldfish diets contain natural pigments called carotenoids and the amount and type the fish eats will impact the color of the chromatophores.

The longer a fish is away from natural sunlight, and the type of artificial light it receives, as well as the type of food it eats, will all impact the degree the color of the fish will change, and how long this process will take. As the chromatophores die, if they are not replaced by other similar chromatophores, the color of the fish will change. These effects can be observed in some fish in less than 30 days.



Click Here to return to the search form.

University of California, Santa Barbara Materials Research Laboratory National Science Foundation
This program is co-sponsored by the National Science Foundation and UCSB School-University Partnerships
Copyright © 2015 The Regents of the University of California,
All Rights Reserved.
UCSB Terms of Use