One fish at a time

I now work in a lab where my primary responsibility is the care and feeding of research zebrafish along with all the requisite fish room maintenance, and brine shrimp and paramecium culture. We have 1000+ fish in the room at any given time from embryo to adult on a large central filtration equipped aquatic housing system, a small stand alone aquatic housing system, static table top tanks, and the 28.5 degree incubator. I love it.

A lot of people ask me why there are labs that use zebra fish as model organisms. What use are they in research and how do they practically relate to human disease. In short, they are good genetic model organisms because you can house them at a relatively high density, a pair can make hundreds of embryos in a week that will reach sexual maturity after only a few months, their embryos develop externally and it is easy to develop lines of fish with specific mutations relevant to the study of certain human diseases. Our lab specifically works on retinal degeneration and a variety of genes expressed in retinal development.

One of my more zen job activities of late has involved a system wide changing of tanks in efforts to battle a progressive algal invasion that had flourished between the departure of the last technician and my arrival. Transferring all the fish to new tanks is probably one of the most relaxing jobs I’ve had in a lab setting. But one thing I’ve found is that, in the end, your net size is limited.  Sometimes you just can’t cast it any wider. In spite of this fact, I try to wait for the perfect moment when the fish align so in one fell swoop, I can clear half the tank. Unfortunately, this does not work. The fish scatter and none into the net. Instead, I have learned that catching one fish at a time, repeatedly over a longer period of time is a much more reliable method. It may not make complete sense, but that’s how I’ve been getting stuff done lately.

What stuff you may ask? Capstone stuff, family stuff, friend stuff, cat-sitting stuff, home organization stuff, work stuff, and fun stuff. Capstone is keeping my mind busy even when I’m not working on it. I would much rather be writing to my Errant Easel friends, reading Hellbent by Cherie Priest, writing novels, knitting cowls, visiting University exhibits on 120 Years of Bugs, playing an Eladrin Sun Elf Mage who bends the universe and people to her will as part of her obsessive compulsive tendencies, rolling up a Legend of the Five Rings character, picnicking in the park, shopping for home accessories, organizing cabinets…

Going to have to stop there, it’s starting to sound a bit…depressing, really. Thankfully, I have a great team of life coaches on call 24-7 who include the great minds of Simplesaurus, Adam Lynch, D3Z, and Stacigilliam. Hoping to wow them with a completed introduction sometime this week. For now, that’s the fish I am staring down through the murky tank walls. I’ll keep you updated, particularly with procrastination posts reviewing recent publications and events in our area (I have a backlog in my mind!).