Thanks to the Japanese Space Agency (JAXA), astronauts aboard the International Space Station have some new pets to keep them company: a small school of Medaka fish that will be used to study the impacts of radiation, muscle atrophy and bone degradation in space.
The AQH Aquatic Habitat (because fish tank sounds too low-tech) features a specially designed filtration system that will keep the fish alive for up to 90 days (sorry guys!), allowing them to reproduce multiple times during their stay, which will be a first in zero gravity. The habitat also automatically feeds the fish, simulates night and day lighting, and has a special chamber for holding air that keeps the water sufficiently oxygenated.
The research is being conducted on Medaka fish instead of run-of-the-mill goldfish because, as you can see in that shot from the live video feed, the fish are actually see-through. This makes studying and monitoring their inner workings considerably easier. We curious to see if they can still be flushed down those space toilets after they die. [NASA via Neatorama]