The International Space Station is getting an Aquarium and that is pretty cool if you ask me. It is very small, measuring only 15x7x7cm in each of the two chambers. The fish however are also very small, the Medaka (Oryzias latipes) fish is a minnow like fish capable of living and breeding in the these little tanks.
Breeding you say? Yes indeed, they are going to try and breed fish in outer space. I personally find that incredibly fascinating. They have put a lot of thought into this project and it’s quite impressive.They also mention possibly bringing amphibians into space on future missions but for now it will just be the fish.
Here is a partial excerpt from the article, you can read the rest here as well as see a couple more photos.
The habitat will reside in the Japanese Experiment Module, or JEM, which is also known as Kibo, or “hope” in Japanese. It will attach to a multipurpose small payload rack for power and housing. The AQH launched on July 20, with the third Japanese H-II Transfer Vehicle, or HTV cargo vehicle flight, also called Konotouri.
This facility includes an improved water circulation system that monitors water conditions, removing waste while ensuring proper pressure and oxygen flow rates. The system’s design upgrades are based on lessons learned from previous habitats that flew on space shuttle missions STS-47, STS-65, and STS-90.
“In order to keep water quality in good condition for the health of the fish, we had to do many tests on the filtration system, especially the bacteria filter,” said Fujimoto. “The special bacteria filter purifies waste materials, such as ammonia, so that we can keep fish for up to 90 days. This capability will make it possible for egg-to-egg breeding aboard station, which means up to three generations may be born in orbit. This would be a first for fish in space.”
This habitat will provide automatic feeding for the fish, air-water interface, temperature control, and a specimen sampling mechanism. There will be two chambers for habitation, each sized at 15 by 7 by 7 cm, holding about 700 cc water and a stabilized area for oxygen that will enable fish to “peck” air. LED lights will simulate day and night cycles, while two video cameras record images of the fish to downlink to the ground, upon request.
The air-water interface design also makes it possible for the AQH to potentially house amphibians in future studies, though currently planned investigations only use fish. Small plastic plates at the upper side of each aquarium use a grid structure to trap a small amount of air, injected by the crew at the start of an investigation. The design, which was tested using parabolic flights, prevents the water from escaping into the microgravity environment.
Image property of Nasa.gov