Neon Tetras Avoid Bottlenecks

Neon Tetras Avoid Bottlenecks
Neon Tetra

Sometimes, we can overlook design features in living things even though they are all around us. Most of us who have had tropical fish aquariums are familiar with the fish known as neon tetras. These fish are great for aquariums because they are tiny – usually about an inch long. They have a brilliant blue stripe running laterally and a red strip underneath toward the tail. These fish are native to the Amazon Basin and live in freshwater.

Researchers have discovered that neon tetras have a quality lacking among many humans. They have the ability to wait their turn. Researchers took a school of tetras and put them in a tank that had a narrow opening to get to a food source. The tetras could get through the narrow opening without clogging and impeding passage. The small fish didn’t collide with one another as they swam through the opening to get to the other side of the tank. Researchers say ants are the only other form of life to demonstrate agility in avoiding bottlenecks.

One has to wonder why these fish have this ability since humans have not solved the problem of getting large numbers of people through narrow openings. Neon tetras live in streams that pass through many rocks, and being able to wait their turn gives them a better chance of survival than if they ended up with a bottleneck.

All living things have characteristics carefully fitted to their needs and environment. As we study life forms, we see this repeatedly, and it screams out the message of Romans 1:20: “we can know there is a God through the things He has made.”

— John N. Clayton © 2023

Reference: National Geographic for December 23, page 22