Fish Food

Did your sushi eat something fishy?

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

Most of the fish we eat, like salmon, snack on smaller fish. Raising these carnivores is costly and energy intensive. But not ALL fish eat other fish! About five percent of all fish have plant-based diets. How did their stomachs evolve to eat plants?

Enter Joseph Heras and his team from the University of California, Irvine. They study the vegetarian monkeyface prickleback fish… what a mouthful! Heras analyzed prickleback stomach DNA to see HOW they digest their food.

Results? Researchers found TWO special plant-digesting groups of genes that evolved over time! Other fish only have DNA to break down proteins like meat. But pricklebacks? Their stomachs can digest carbs AND fats! This means they can enjoy plant-based options, like a delicious and nutritious seaweed salad!

Researchers hope these aqua-vegetarians could help reduce costs and pollution… making fish farming more sustainable!

Surf and turf? Hmmm…just the surf for me, thanks!