Fish With Transparent Head Filmed

Fish With Transparent Head Filmed 

This barrel eye fish is not going to win any beauty prizes. But it surely deserves admiration for its enormous telescoping eyes, housed in a transparent head that functions as a muscle-driven lens to scavenge what little light penetrates the inky ocean depths. The huge green lenses points to a retina with exceptional density of rod cells, packed with the light harvesting protein rhodopsin.  Cone cells, that see color, are absent. Those two tiny openings on either side of its mouth? They are nostrils .

The fish spends most of its time motionless, eyes directed upwards to catch the shadow of prey emitting faint bioluminescence.

#scienceeveryday when it’s not ScienceSunday .

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41 Responses to Fish With Transparent Head Filmed


  1. I’ve seen this one before, it still is danged fascinating.

  2. Rajini Rao says:


    The video is a few years old, but making its rounds to fascinate once again.


  3. It looks almost Escheresque….

  4. Dayrk Flaugh says:


    I’ve always thought that this is the most amazing thing. Also, I saw that it was featured on an animated, education children’s program (I forget which one, though). It’s great when kid’s shows dive into the lesser known realms of the world to rekindle their interest in things!

  5. Rajini Rao says:


    Aida Hazlan , there are fish that are completely transparent. Sadly, they are often dyed for aquariums and don’t live long because of the toxicity. I though this one was strange because the transparent head was like a cockpit.


  6. Dayrk Flaugh if you ever find that again, I’d like the link.

  7. Tommy Leung says:


    Here’s a (free) copy of the paper which described the details of that fish and its peculiar eyes: http://darwin.biology.utah.edu/PiqueArticles/SeeThru-shiMacropinnaMicrostoma-barreleyefish.pdf

  8. Rajini Rao says:


    The extreme adaptation to low ambient light is amazing! The head has been taken over by the eyes. I don’t know how much room is left for the rest of the  brain 😛


    Feisal Kamil , nasal organs would be more accurate.


  9. Tommy Leung it is mostly magic, right? 


    Yes, I’m tired of this election 🙂

  10. Dayrk Flaugh says:


    Johan Edstrom, I think it was on “Octonauts” on Disney Junior. I’ll try to find a video when I’m able…

  11. Rajini Rao says:


    Wonderful, thank you Tommy Leung ! I’ll read it and report any interesting snippets of amazing biology back here.

  12. Tommy Leung says:


    Haha, fish magic Johan Edstrom, fish magic. That article was actually one of a series of “Adaptive Piques” from the Clayton-Bush lab (they do some interesting work on adaptation and speciation in feather lice), which from what I can gather is one of their regular lab activities (sounds like a fun lab to be in): http://darwin.biology.utah.edu/PiqueWeek.html


    If you think that dome-head barrel-eyed fish is magic, there’s a lot more of that kind of magic if you have a click around in the above link.

  13. Jerry Nguyen says:


    Rajini Rao – I found out about these fish from Octonauts! Octonauts s1e36 – scary spookfish.avi


    (The voices in the Disney Jr. cast are many shades more awesome. Mostly because Peso actually sounds appropriate.) 🙂


  14. Tommy Leung Already clicking, I didn’t study in these fields, I was in math. I always find learning epic.

  15. Dayrk Flaugh says:


    You scooped me, Jerry Nguyen! I was just about to post that link!

  16. Fred Gandt says:


    Awesome! I like it (O)_(O)

  17. Rajini Rao says:


    D’awww…so cute! Thanks, Jerry Nguyen .

  18. Dayrk Flaugh says:


    Kids’ shows are getting a little too smart. Once I said to my daughter, who was 4 at the time, “Do you know that flamingos aren’t really pink? They’re that way…”  She interrupted  “…because of what they eat. I know, Dad. I saw that on Diego.”


    Flippin Diego stole my thunder.

  19. Jim Carver says:


    I don’t know why it had a bad experience in an aquarium. Bad fish keepers ?

  20. Rajini Rao says:


    This fish, Jim Carver ? I read that it survived a few hours in captivity. The film clip linked in my post was shot in the ocean.


    How cool to be able to thank the pilots of ROVs Vantana and Tiburon for their skill and patience! (That was in the pdf that Tommy Leung posted).


    Dyed glassfish, or “disco fish” are the ones that die in captivity according to Wiki.

  21. Jim Carver says:


    Rajini Rao Any fish can be kept if you have the proper environment. The captivity part is just an illusion. Most fish spend most of their time in a limited space anyway. As long as the space is large enough and the chemistry is right there should be no problem. Ph and salinity are critical and I would imagine that’s where they fell down.

  22. Rajini Rao says:


    That makes sense, Jim Carver . The dyeing process apparently makes discofish (Ambassidae) susceptible to infection: Indian glassy fish sold to hobbyists have often been “painted”, which involves injecting coloured dye into the fish’s transparent tissue to make them more attractive to hobbyists.[3] These coloured fish are often called “disco fish”. Inexperienced fishkeepers are often tricked into believing such fish are natural or that the process is painless and causes no harm.[4] Fish thus treated have suffered trauma and are susceptible to disease, including ich, fin rot and the viral disease Lymphocystis. The artificial coloration often fades within a short time. Healthy, non-“painted” specimens may live three to four years in captivity, but such individuals may be difficult to find in some localities.

  23. Jim Carver says:


    Rajini Rao  Thanks, true aquarists only raise fish that can complete their life cycle.

  24. Jim Carver says:


    There are many reef species that we do not understand also… and cannot bring them to breeding no matter what we try. It seems there are symbiotic relationships in the reef environment that we do not understand. That doesn’t mean we can’t do it; it’s just not understood at this point.


    I take a dim view of keeping these species unless it would be for research on how to breed them. For any species you keep, it should be able to reproduce itself. period. I even take that philosophy to plants. You don’t have to go that far though…haha 🙂

  25. Rajini Rao says:


    That’s a sound philosophy. Living things don’t reproduce when they are stressed. Even cell division has checkpoints for surveillance of environment, food, damaged DNA and so on. If they can breed in captivity, they must be doing somewhat okay! 🙂

  26. Bariq Ikram says:


    At least it will have clear thoughts hehehe

  27. Rajini Rao says:


    LOL, Bariq Ikram , we can read its mind. Good thing humans are thick skulled.

  28. Jim Carver says:


    Rajini Rao I guess it’s more of a philosophical outlook than anything else.


    I also thank the animal for giving up its life before I eat it.


    You might think of that as some form of prayer. Never had thought of that. I guess it is. 

  29. Rajini Rao says:


    It’s an innate respect for all forms of life.


  30. I wonder if that fish is called Charlie Brown. He once remarked that he had a glass head (after Lucy said she could see right through him). But given the depth it lives at it would have to be Charlie Down.

  31. Rajini Kumar says:


    Hey, Fish! We can see what is on your mind. 🙂

  32. Rajini Rao says:


    Strange, but true 🙂

  33. Dipak Singh says:


    really strange ….is it relly exists..

  34. mahek abbas says:


    amazingg ..what this fish known as

  35. Stuti S A I says:


    I wish some physicist would analyse the refractory/reflector (as the case may be) power of a light beam as well on the transparent surface, if at all.

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