Disaster. Catastrophe. Chaos.

This is not good. I have a couple of students anxious to get to work (I’m anxious to get to work), and we’ve been prepping my lab zebrafish facility for an influx of new fish that we expected to arrive this week, and then I check into the Zebrafish International Resource Center, the source for all of our lines, and get this message.

Due to a fire, ZIRC services have been temporarily disrupted. We are unable to provide fish or accept submissions at this time. We sincerely apologize for this delay and hope that it does not seriously disrupt your activities. If you have an order pending at ZIRC, we will be in contact with you as soon as possible. Please contact us if you have any questions.

Yep, that’s us. Order pending. Expected to ship tomorrow. That’s not happening now. Most of my summer research money got spent on something essential that is indefinitely delayed.

Oh, well, I can’t blame ZIRC for a problem beyond their control, that I’m sure they’d rather hadn’t occurred either. I’m going to have to scavenge up some healthy, fecund experimental animals somehow. So my plan is to drive into Minneapolis today and visit a few quality aquarium stores (not Walmart) and scrape together a bunch of mongrel fish that will at least let me and my students do some preliminary practice. Which means my entire day is sort of demolished right now.

At least I can double up — I’m also taping some shows with Humanists of Minnesota this evening, so I’m making a long day of it.


  1. says

    If you’re somewhere in Minnesota with a fish tank, I might show up at your door with a net and a baggie, begging for handouts.

  2. robb says

    I don’t have a tank anymore. But you could try Twin City Reptiles on 2363 University Ave W, St Paul, MN 55114 (651) 647-4479. They are right off of I94/hwy 280/University. Don’t let the “reptile” in their name fool you. They have a lot of fish tanks too. (but I expect you have heard of it!)

  3. gog says

    I’ve got a goldfish you can have. He’s an aggressive little monster that eats all the food and has bullied and stressed four other fish to death. At least he hasn’t killed his current tank mate…

  4. jenniferphillips says

    As someone at ‘ground zero’, I’m very sorry that your fish order is delayed. The fire–and aftermath–is sucking for a lot of people right now. The damage to the building is extensive, but could have been so much worse in terms of fish line losses.

    Since you have such a new facility, I would recommend trying to keep it as clean as possible and not bring in diseased fish. Setting up a temporary quarantine space would be a fun summer project for students, right? Good luck finding some summer fish–maybe the zebrafish facility at UM can help you out.

  5. says

    Yeah, really, not a speck of blame for ZIRC — I can’t imagine how much that hurts. I’m anxious because a problem is delaying the expansion of my teeny tiny little local system, but to have a bigger problem hit an international stock center…ouch.

    That’s another concern though — we are going to have to gamble on bringing pet store fish into our new setup, because I have no other place to put them. This is a very small lab, I’ve got a bench and that’s about it. I’ve got a small quarantine tank set up already, but that’s more for isolating a few sick fish at a time — it can’t substitute for a system that’s supposed to produce eggs on a regular schedule. My only choice right now is to be picky and get animals from reputable stores.

  6. says

    Is it sad that my first thought was, “I hope it wasn’t an extremist animal rights group that set the fire on purpose”?

  7. hackerguitar says

    Aargh. That’s terrible. Are there any other species that approximate the usefulness of zebrafish for developmental biology, or is the zebrafish unique insofar as it’s better mapped than other alternatives?

  8. says

    Fundulus and medaka are pretty popular, too, but not so much as good ol’ Danio.

    I should just switch all the way to salmon, I guess. Get eggs, eat adults. I’m gonna need much bigger tanks, though.

  9. ironflange says

    Come on, you smartasses, he can’t just go door to door or to a pet shop. ZIRC fish are specially bred and trained to be able to fetch PZ’s slippers and newspapers and make his coffee.

  10. LicoriceAllsort says

    I did a small behavioral study on zebrafish when I was an undergrad. Given my undergrad research budget, I had to use pet store–sourced Danios. One or two stores refused to sell them to me when they heard “research”—something perhaps to keep in mind.

  11. dukeofomnium says

    I’m just amazed that there’s actually a source for labratory zebrafish; and ONLY zebrafish. Unless, of course, zebrafish are the piscine equivalent of white mice, and are used by scientists the world over

  12. moarscienceplz says

    That’s sad to hear about the fire at ZIRC. The people and companies who supply labs are a tiny but absolutely vital part of science education and research. I hope they bounce back quickly.

  13. blf says

    zebrafish are the piscine equivalent of white mice

    Use lab mice instead, then! If you don’t want to drain the tanks (understandable), just outfit the mice with tiny snorkels and/or scuba-gear.

  14. Ichthyic says

    When I was in a lab that worked on Cichlids back in Berkeley, one thing we found VERY productive was to join and follow the various national “cichlid clubs” of amateurs that raised cichlids for fun.

    I’d say as much as half of our stock of fishes we used in behavioral experiments were obtained with the help of these clubs.

    surely there is something similar for Danios?

  15. Atticus Dogsbody says

    Just get some black, dragon-eye carp and paint white stripes on them. Who’s gonna know?