What is the smallest fish in the world? The smallest fish in the world was discovered in Sumatra, Indonesia. It is this small: just about ten millimeters or 0.31 inch long. This is not even half an inch, roughly the size of a mosquito. The fish has a transparent body, and an interesting thing is that its brain is not enclosed in a protective skeleton or any sort of skull. It is very easy for an outside physical force to damage the brain. Considering the tiny size of the fish, it is very vulnerable to even the slightest threat from its surrounding. A tragic reality is that this fish is actually facing a very real threat of extinction. Sumatra’s peat swamps, (its natural habitat) are in danger of being wiped out because of logging, farming activities, and other human activities.
Ecological experts are worried that if these activities don’t stop, the swamps may disappear from the face of the Earth, so as their unique flora and fauna, including this tiny fish.
Paedocypris Progenetica – the World’s Smallest Fish
The newly discovered fish has tentatively been given the scientific name Paedocypris progenetica. It belongs to the freshwater carp family. The fish has a tiny, very fragile backbone. All fishes have backbones, and this puts them in the category of vertebrate animals. Other vertebrate animals include mammals, reptiles, birds, as well as humans. The Paedocypris progenetica is not just the world’s tiniest fish; it is also the world’s smallest vertebrate animal.
The research team that discovered the fish was led by Swedish fish expert Maurice Kottelat. The group presented their discovery in a British scientific journal called the Proceedings of the Royal Society. Interestingly, after this discovery was published, another fish-expert came out with the claim that he has found an even smaller fish than Paedocypris progenetica. This authority and researcher was Ted Pietsch, from the University of Washington. According to him, this fish is a saltwater fish called the Photocorynus spiniceps. It measures about 0.25 inch, slightly shorter than the Paedocypris progenetica’s 0.31 inch. If (or when) Pietsch’s discovery becomes official, this fish will be the new tiniest fish in the world. However, the Paedocypris progenetica will be a very close second, and it will certainly hold the title of the world’s smallest freshwater fish. However, all this is still unofficial, and the Paedocypris progenetica continues to formally hold the title of being the smallest fish in the whole planet.
Other characteristics of the Paedocypris progenetica are that it can survive in a highly acidic environment, and males have enlarged pelvic fins that serve for reproduction. The fish also has strange-looking grasping fins. Scientists are very excited to study the fish even further, and perhaps to grow them outside their natural habitat. If Sumatran swamps remain undamaged, there will be a good chance that the fish will become more numerous, instead of becoming another endangered species.