I have a fish tank in my lab which is a constant source of interest to the students I teach. Frankly, they spend more time watching the fish swimming around than they ever do listening to me. There used to be a much-admired crayfish in there which would astound everybody by periodically shedding its exoskeleton and looking like it was dead before appearing from behind a wooden log.

What a party trick that was!

The crayfish became the subject of a previous post here (you can find it if you search for Margarita´s Dead Crab). Sadly the crayfish really did shed its mortal coil and was not subsequently capable of resurrecting itself. I was skeptical when the kids told me it was really dead this time but they were right. He was a bit like Rasputin that crayfish, his death was a complicated affair but he got there in the end.

I was told yesterday by one of my Year 11 students that one of the goldfish looks like Adolf Hitler. So this morning, having a few minutes before the staff briefing, I went and had a look into the tank to see if this was true. I took a few photos of the fish in question and so you can make your own judgment on the likeness. My own view is that there is a superficial resemblance but I suspect that if the fish had put on a uniform and been propped up in front of a microphone at the Nuremberg Rally not too many people would have been hoodwinked into believing this really was the Führer speaking. But, like I say, you can look at the photos and make your own call on this.

It is coincidental that the having it suggested that our goldfish is a doppelgänger for Hitler happens to fall in the same week as a news story about a deep sea fish which earned the dubious distinction of being considered the ugliest creature on earth. The following account has been shamelessly plagiarised from a BBC article published in Sptember by Victoria Gill:

“The grumpy-looking, gelatinous blobfish has won a public vote to become the official mascot of the Ugly Animal Preservation Society.

This gives the fish the unofficial title of world’s ugliest animal.

The society began as a science-themed comedy night and devised its mascot campaign to draw attention to “aesthetically challenged” threatened species.

The winner was announced at the British Science Festival in Newcastle.

The blobfish tops a list that includes the huge-nosed proboscis monkey, the similarly afflicted pig-nosed turtle, an amphibian affectionately known as a “scrotum frog” and pubic lice.”

The article that I came across this week in IFL Science states that the poor blobfish is undeserving of its fame for ugliness. Scientists now tell us that depressurisation of the tissues of the fish as it is brought to the surface bring about changes to what is actually a pretty ordinary, though not particularly beautiful fish.

I remember when researching for my book reading about a kind of Koi carp with a very distinctive colouration and sporting bright red lips. It would take me a a long time to dig up the details and to see if I can find a photograph of one of these things so please forgive me for not being able to show you one, but I remember being amused at the time by the observation that the breeding of this particular strain has been discontinued because they look like hookers!


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Führer oder Fisch?




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Here is the “altered” form of the blobfish which has made headlines for itself.



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This is what the real fish looks like. This is a drawing made by an Australian ichthyologist. The following comes from IFL Science: The blobfish ain’t so blobby at deep-sea pressures. Alan Riverstone McCulloch (1885-1925) – Fisheries: Zoological results of the fishing experiments carried out by F.I.S. “Endeavor” 1909-10 under H.C. Dannevig. Public Domain.