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Melanophore Migration.

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Melanophore Migration.

Break down of terms thanks to Merriam-Webster?s dictionary:

Melanophore - a melanin-containing cell especially of fishes, amphibians, and reptiles.

Melanin - a dark brown or black, animal or plant pigment.

Migration ? (in this case) to change position in an organism or substance.

Science bit:

Within the (melanin) cell resides thousands of granules of pigment. This is how fish and more commonly amphibians change colour to evade predators. They are stimulated by adrenalin; migrate to the center of the cell, and thus lightening the colour of the skin tissue. The cell can also disperse the pigment making a darker colouration. The pigments can also be agitated by other chemicals in the body. Black Pigment cells (ormelanophores) respond to the presence of Leukine (a chemical used to attract fibroblasts, the cells used to repair damaged tissue.) Consequently the containing cell goes black, rather than just darker or lighter when the pigment migrates.


Often a paling of the skin followed by black patches on body, usually on back or sides of fish.

Photo: ( Common Goldfish with Melanophore Migration, a week after black spots first began to show.)


Common context:

? On bringing a goldfish home from the LFS.

? After replacing a filter suspected of poor efficiency.

? After adding medication that does not suit the fish.


Usually from a chemical or traumatic irritant or injury, due to:

? An ammonia surge (irritation)

? low pH (irritation)

? Fluke infestation (trauma)

? Ick or costia infection (trauma)

? Certain Medications (irritation).

I.e. If you bring a fish home from the LFS that has been kept in poor water conditions, and your tank water is far better, the black spots will appear as the fish heals.

Time frame:

Black spots come up over a period of 1-2 weeks, and after approx 7 days begin to fade, returning the fish to its normal colour. The black colouring appears as the fish heals, so its appearance is normally a sign that conditions have improved. Within 3 to 6 weeks the fish should be returned to normal colouration.


Check water quality. Make sure fish appear active and bright. Fins should be clear and dorsals raised. If all these areas are acceptable, then you just have to wait for the black spots to fade as the fish heals.

If the coloured areas are depressed or raised you may also be dealing with a bacterial infection or other problems, and further diagnosis is needed.


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This is really interesting, Koko. Funny that I stumbled across this post right now, because just this morning I was working on some punnets for likelyhood (in Mendelian terms) of depigmentation, albinism, and autosomal recessive transparency characteristics in goldfish (also related to melanophores)!

I will post that later :)

Anyways, really cool stuff! Thanks for sharing!!!

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