Evidence-based refinements for zebrafish.
In a laboratory setting, it is important to provide housing that allows expression in a wide range of species-typical behaviors while also meeting the goals of the researcher. Substandard housing can lead to aggression, stereotypic behavior, anxiety and depression which will, in turn, affect research outcomes. Understanding the animal’s natural behavior, enables us to build quality environments that meet physical, behavioral and social needs. Proper design is critical for improved health and welfare, both of which impact scientific validity.
Making changes to current housing standards can be challenging especially since facilities may be at very different levels of current housing. Start making small changes from where your facility is currently to improve. Also keep in mind that some of the recommendations below (e.g., providing certain types of environmental enrichment) can change some specific experimental models.
Before implementing housing changes, be sure to consult the relevant scientific literature and consider the requirements of your scientific model. Each facility may require an individual approach to increasing housing standards as much as possible.
Technicians should be able to effectively clean housing areas, access individual animals, and complete behavioral observations. Those working with zebrafish should receive proper training in the natural history of the species, how to recognize species-typical & atypical behaviors, and appropriate methods for interacting with the animals in their care.
The RSPCA has produced 6 excellent posters outlining key natural behaviors & refinements for zebrafish.
Click any of the below pictures to see a larger version of it and find a PDF version of the posters here.
Prevent injury to protective mucus layer on the skin by:
Social Housing & Enrichment