X IS FOR X-RAY

X-Ray Tetra Doodlewash

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

 

Profile photo of 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! If you’d like to be a guest artist on Doodlewash.com, contact me!
62 Comments
  1. Sand Salt Moon 1 year ago

    And here you used the Opera Rose – to great effect, too, I see.

  2. Carol 1 year ago

    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 😄

    • Author

      Thanks Carol!! 💕😃Yeah…I agree…animals have many wonderful traits I wish humans would adopt. And love that name! Lol I will now spend the day looking for ways to call someone a yellow-bellied sapsucker. 😃👍🏻Haha

  3. Jacob 1 year ago

    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!

    • Author

      Thanks Jacob! It’s a wild one for sure… actually there are many different kinds and colors… but I went with the freakiest one I could find. Lol Does end up looking like an anatomical sketch though! 😉👍🏻hehe

  4. Jodi 1 year ago

    X-cellent! X-eptional! X-tra ordinary! 😝❤️👍

  5. memadtwo 1 year ago

    Good solution Charlie. These would be great in an aquarium.
    Yak is the obvious solution for Y, but how about Yorkshire terrier? High cuteness factor. (K)

    • jmnowak 1 year ago

      …all I can think of is yogurt…food on my mind at the moment! 😉

    • Author

      Thanks Kerfe! I did see the Yorkshire Terrier come up…I’ve actually avoiding dogs in this one I realized and I love dogs. I could almost do an ABC of dogs alone! Hmmmmm…. interesting

  6. Teresa Robeson 1 year ago

    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! <3

    • jmnowak 1 year ago

      I love how ‘incomprehensible’ almost has the full alphabet in it! 😉

    • Author

      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!! ❤️😃

  7. Jill Kuhn 1 year ago

    Ooh, I visualize possibilities for March! Go FISH! 🐠😄👍 Your colors are swimmingly wonderful, Charlie! 💕 Loving the Opera Rose! 💖💕

    • Author

      Hehe…Awww thanks Jill!! 💕💕😃 And you can visualize possibilities for March?!! Yay! What are they?!! lol I’m always so stumped leading into a new adventure. If you have any ideas for the next one, let me know!

      • Jill Kuhn 1 year ago

        How about fish! 🐠🐟🐡

      • Author

        I thought about it after this one! hehe…. but I’m not sure I’d like a whole month of them. I do love painting creatures though! 😊hehe

  8. Genius…..I have never ever heard of them, despite being a radiographer!! I will look them up now, thank you for sharing, fantastic end to the ABC

    • jmnowak 1 year ago

      …umm…I thought the ABCs end at Z…

    • Author

      Thanks so much Rebecca!! 💕😃 But it’s not the end!! There’s still Y & Z to go!! Also… I have to swap a couple out so they’ll be a couple new ones to share on Leap Day on Monday when I also reveal the ABC poster! Stay tuned!! 😉😃

  9. jmnowak 1 year ago

    Aahh…epiphany…maybe that’s why the Aussie Aborigine have so many x-rayed fish paintings on caves…possibly this is a species they used to catch?! Lovely doodle, Charlie!

    • Author

      They’re so weird but cool looking! I admit to looking for the weirdest references I could find though. Some look pretty normal. Thanks Janina!! 💕😃

  10. M. L. Kappa 1 year ago

    Cool!

  11. ann christina 1 year ago

    This is really interesting. He´s kind of cute, although he looks like a zombie to me. What a weird creature… I just imagined humans with this x-ray ability – that would be really scary! 😉

    • Author

      Thanks Ann!! 💕😃Haha!! He’s a total zombie fish…awesome!! You just made him cooler!! Lol And yeah…humans with this ability would only end poorly! 😳

  12. Sharon Mann 1 year ago

    Great pick today for X. I agree with Jacob, you achieved the transparency beautifully. Well done Charlie. On to Y, right now I think of Yak.

    • Author

      Thanks Sharon!! 💕😃 Was worried I would get the transparent effect on this one. Glad you like it!! And yep… Let’s just say there are no surprises for Y and Z!! Lol

  13. Teri C 1 year ago

    That is an amazing response for X. Love it!

  14. Cathe 1 year ago

    Ah, great doodlewash x! All around super cool post!

  15. Susan Feniak 1 year ago

    Well done! I was wondering what “X” would bring. 🙂

  16. kirkistan 1 year ago

    I really like that one.

  17. This is so awesome, Charlie! Love the colors and the shape of your fishy friend. Wow! He is glowing! Woo, round of applause for a fantabulous letter X! (I once drew crossed knitting needles lol!) Bravo to my talented Bro!

    • Author

      Thanks so much Sis! hehe… Yeah… this one was fun, but the invisibility was a bit of a challenge! lol And I think crossed knitting needles is a great entry! This alphabet thing was fun… Kind of hate to leave it… 😊

      • 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.

      • Author

        I’ve had requests on Instagram to go another round with all different animals. It’s pretty tempting as this was super fun. But these last few letters are way too limiting! Hehe

  18. Cathy Tenzo 1 year ago

    I love the vibrancy of this one. This is splendid!

  19. Interesting little fish and x-cellent painting :-)!

  20. Kari 1 year ago

    Beautiful fish! Just makes me wonder why these creatures got to be transparent when other similar fish aren’t. I don’t think I’ve ever seen them! Will have to google! 😊

    • Author

      Thanks Kari! 💕😃 No idea why these guys got the transparency gene…hehe.. But it’s pretty cool. If I ever had a fish tank, they’d be at the top of the list!

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