It is a known fact that goldfish can produce alcohol, which helps them to survive the coldest water environments. However, scientists have been puzzled by this and have searched for an answer as to how the fish can make their alcohol below the surface of the water. Now, new research has found the mysterious process that allows these marine creatures to create the alcohol.

Why is the ethanol production crucial?

Frozen lakes present a dangerous and harsh environment where even the most seasoned marine creatures cannot survive for long. The lack of oxygen due to the ice covering is the main reason why such lakes are considered to be harsh.

However, goldfish are quite proficient at surviving in such waters. The crucian carp is one other species that can survive for days and weeks under such conditions.

It was known from previous studies that the goldfish could create ethanol from anaerobically produced Lactic Acid in their bodies. This ethanol is then discharged through their fins and into the surrounding water. Through this innovative process, the fish can avoid the build up of the lactic acid in the body as a result of the lack of oxygen.

How is the ethanol created?

Although researchers were aware of the process taking place in the body of the goldfish, they did not understand what exactly drove the extra lactic acid to be converted to ethanol.

In the recent study, researchers discovered that two sets of proteins present in the muscles of the creatures drive the ethanol production. The first set of proteins is quite common and can be found in many other animals as well.

However, the second set of proteins was shown to be activated by the lack of oxygen. When these proteins are activated, the metabolic substrates for the creation of ethanol is transferred outside the mitochondria.

This is what drives the conversion of the lactic acid to ethanol.

Researchers were further able to pinpoint this strange set of proteins as a mutation in the crucian carp and goldfish. They claim that the variation came into existence some 8 million years ago and helped these fish to adapt to the frozen lake environments. Researchers revealed that during the long cold winter months, the blood alcohol levels in these fish could climb up to 50 mg per 100 milliliters.

This is higher than the safe drink driving limit levied by the law on people. Scientists feel that this presence of alcohol in the body of the fish is far less harmful than the presence of the lactic acid, which is known as the end product of energy production.