NANFA-- Re: Space Fish

Jeffrey Fullerton (
Fri, 21 Nov 2003 02:02:15 -0500

Native Fish Enthusiasts

That experiment looks encouraging. Would be interesting to know whether
complex life and ecosystems can exist in the absence of gravity or under
lower gravity conditions. My guess is that some species if not most
probably can. Fish are already somewhat adapted to weightless conditions
to begin with and probably need gravity more for orientation purposes.
Yet I remember some old films of marine fish swimming upside down in
coral caves happily as if the ceiling were the floor- much like humans
could maximize the limited floor space of a space station module by
treating the whole inside surface as a floor!

Still I think we humans will do better on long duration stays or trips
in space if we have artificial gravity- ie centrifugl force of a
spinning habitat- wheel- sphere- cylinder or a pair of tethered modules.
This would keep astronauts stronger so they would be in better shape at
the end of a long trip to explore Mars and make it easier to re-adapt to
Earth- even half a gee would be better than microgravity. Plus all the
mundane things we do that depend on gravity for like moving fluids and
keeping the same in their proper place and even more importantly- sewage
disposal. To get these things done in microgravity requires a good bit
of expensive inovations- which is probably a significant contributer to
the price tag of the $500 toilet seat!

If you have a spinning habitat you can have plumming that works just the
same as it would on Earth or any other celestial body with a significant
gravity well. It would probably be easier to live too. Astronauts
reported alot of difficulty sleeping in microgravity- compounded by the
nosie of fans and other equipment needed to maintain their living

Back to the article- it's also encouraging to hear that there is serious
interest in "living machine" systems for space. I've read alot about
work done by Ocean Arks International that built a number of such
systems that incorporate small scale artificial wetlands inside
greenhouses to handle sewage and graywater wastes. And they work pretty
well- even handled enbalming fluid from a local mortuary without fazing
the tanks of smallmouth bass and other fishes at the end. The fish act
as biological monitors to make sure the system is functioning properly.

In space such systems could support whole communities of people
providing waste treatment, food and asthetic contact with non-human
lifeforms to ease the monotony of space travel. On Earth they could have
alot of benefits as well.

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