Today, we have an X-Ray tetra, one of the few creatures on the planet that is actually transparent, hence the name. Other options for this letter would have meant resorting to scientific names like a bird called a Xenops, that’s really an Ovenbird, a Xantus, which is just a type of hummingbird, or a Xerus, which is just a nerdy way to refer to an African ground squirrel. So in lieu of these options, we have this slightly more well-known invisible fish (if you’re actually a fan of incomprehensible scientific names, then you may refer to this as a pristella maxillaris).

Though the translucent skin of the x-ray tetra makes it a beautiful must-have addition to any aquarium, it actually helps it hide from predators. I’ve always thought it would be cool to have the power of invisibility, so these fish are super fascinating. Though not fully invisible, they do at least have the power to blend into a background of rocks or plants. This is actually pretty necessary, because in open water they are really just defenseless. But, as usual, despite the high number of natural predators, the greatest threat to them comes from water pollution by humans.

Their bony structure, which is actually visible because of their see-through nature, enhances their hearing ability. This is called a Weberian apparatus, which sends sound waves through the swim bladder up to the auditory canal. The result is a keen sense of hearing that also helps them respond quickly to attackers. And that’s an x-ray tetra for you! Other than the males being smaller than the females, that’s about all I found interesting for this one. So with that, we will be moving along to our last two letters! Next up is “Y”!

About the Doodlewash

M. Graham watercolors: Quinacridone Gold, Cobalt Blue, Neutral Tint and Titanium White Gouache. Sennelier L’Aquarelle: Opera Rose. Lamy Safari Al Star pen with Platinum Carbon blue ink in a 5″ x 8″ 140 lb. (300 gsm) Pentalic Aqua Journal


Posted by:Charlie O'Shields (doodlewash)

Creator of Doodlewash® and founder of World Watercolor Month™ (July) and World Watercolor Group™. Sharing daily watercolor illustrations and stories while proudly featuring talented artists from all over the world!

62 replies on “X IS FOR X-RAY

  1. Pretty fish. If only humans were so transparent that we could take them at face value. Opera rose is a gorgeous color, too. For Y I nominate yellow-bellied sapsucker for two reasons: first, it is a bird, which makes me happy, and second, it sounds like it could be an insult but uses nice words 😄

    Liked by 3 people

  2. I had no idea that this fish even existed… now, I rather want some of my own. Great job on the transparency! I feel like your doodlewash should be circled by annotations pointing to various bones and features, but no, that’s just how it is… fascinating and so cool!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I’m a geek-nerd who loves scientific names! It’s not like they’re really incomprehensible; ask anyone who studies Latin still. In fact, knowing Latin and Greek helps decipher a lot of incomprehensible English words! 😉

    I think you picked a super cool subject for X! Although, at first glance, I thought it was a biology lab specimen (ah, I can still smell the preservative chemicals…ick! or is that “ich-“, the Greek root for fish? heh!). 😀

    Awesome doodlewash! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha!! I knew I could count on you to be a fan of those science names. And I actually don’t know of anyone who studies Latin…😊 perhaps I should expand my circle! Hehe This one definitely looks like a lab specimen! Lol… I didn’t know of another way to get the invisible part across in a doodlewash. But I kind of liked the effect! Glad you did too!! ❤️😃

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I did it for like half (or more) of ’15…..and was glad to leave it. It became too limiting. I hung on much too long, I think. Couldn’t drop it! I forget what finally did it. I’ve enjoyed your series though. It’s been fun to brainstorm letter art again.

        Liked by 1 person

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