Fish to help in war on terror

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Japan has enlisted the help of a tiny coldwater fish to help fight the war on terror.

According to The Telegraph, Japan is to use the Rice fish, Oryzias latipes, as a biological indicator to sense the presence of contaminants added to it's water supplies.

The report says that sophisticated and expensive filtration equipment may take up to 15 hours to detect water contamination, but Rice fish can react to pollution within just a couple of hours.

The Rice fish bioindicators have already been trialled in experiments at two water treatment plants in Japan and will soon be put to use at the supply feeding the Shizuoka prefecture, south of Tokyo.

It says that the Rice fish "pushes its face close to the surface when it experiences breathing difficulties or simply dies in the manner of canaries in gas-filled mines".

Other researchers have produced genetically modified Rice fish which contain a special gene that can make the fish glow when pollutants are present in the water. The technology has subsequently been borrowed to produce genetically modified pet fish which fluoresce under special UV lighting.

The Rice fish is a member of the family Adrianichthyidae and is sometimes kept by UK fishkeepers in coldwater aquaria.

The small yellow fish reaches a size of around 4cm/2" and has an unusual mode of reproduction in which females carry around bundles of eggs on their bellies, rather than scattering or depositing them upon the substrate.