by Ryan Ripsman

When my heart was shattered beyond repair
I found myself drowning, struggling for air
I knew my heart needed to regenerate
So, I turned to my favourite model vertebrate

I sequenced their genome, they sequenced my heart
I knew it was true love right from the start
Now I want the whole world to discover
Nothing can beat a zebrafish lover

Peaceful, kind and quick to mature
Zebrafish hold a special allure
From the moment they begin to hatch
Zebrafish are an amazing catch

On a date, zebrafish are always a treat
They’re great listeners, and ever so sweet
And paying for dinner won’t break the bank
Since all they want is algae in their tank

Above all, zebrafish are transparent
Their superiority is readily apparent
Better than frogs, flies, mice and finches
Despite being only a couple of inches

You can find one in a river, stream or lake
And unlike humans they are never fake
A zebrafish is a fish you can trust
You need not fear losing them to lust

So, on this Valentine’s Day set yourself free
And quit looking for perfection in humanity
Find yourself a date with perfect gills
And prepare for a lifetime of happiness and thrills


Notes

         Zebrafish or Danio rerio are a species of fish commonly kept as pets or used in biomedical research. They are a peaceful and docile fish. Zebrafish are freshwater, tropical fish who generally live in rivers, lakes and ponds. Zebrafish are omnivores, they feed off smaller fish, algae and zooplankton. Zebrafish are hatched from eggs and often mate for life. Zebrafish are small fish, ranging from 2.5 cm to 4 cm. When zebrafish are in their larval state, they are transparent. As they mature, they gain blue colouring. However, a genetically altered strain of zebrafish has been developed which retains its transparency throughout its lifespan. It takes approximately 3 months for a zebrafish to mature from its larval stage.

Zebrafish are commonly used as model organisms (species used for scientific research to understand complex biological and medical principles). Like humans they are vertebrates, meaning they have a backbone, they also have similar hearts to humans, and their development is similar to the development of a human embryo. Unlike humans, zebrafish are able to regenerate heart tissue, making them an interesting animal to study to better understand how to improve human recovery after heart damage. Zebrafish are commonly used in genetics research, and their genome has been sequenced, meaning their entire genetic code has been found and recorded on a computer. Zebrafish have played a crucial part in many scientific discoveries, but don’t receive enough recognition. This Valentine’s Day let’s give love to the fish that always gives and never takes: the humble, yet noble zebrafish!

* Inspired by conversations with David Polisuk *

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