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Open Access The Behavioral Effects of Single Housing and Environmental Enrichment on Adult Zebrafish (Danio rerio)

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Environmental enrichment provides laboratory-housed species the opportunity to express natural behavior and exert control over their home environment, thereby minimizing stress. We sought to determine whether providing an artificial plant in the holding tank as enrichment influenced anxiety-like behaviors and place-preference choice in adult zebrafish. Fish were housed singly or in social groups of 5 for 3 wk in 1 of 4 experimental housing environments: single-housed enriched (n = 30), single-housed barren (n = 30), group-housed enriched (n = 30), and group-housed barren (n = 30). On week 4, individual fish were selected randomly from each of the experimental housing environments and tested by using novel-tank, light–dark, and place-preference tests. Housing fish singly in a barren environment increased anxiety-like behaviors in the novel-tank and light–dark behavioral tests. Single-housed zebrafish in barren tanks as well as zebrafish group-housed with conspecifics, both with and without plant enrichment, spent more time associating with conspecifics than with the artificial plant enrichment device during the place-preference test. Single-housed fish maintained in enriched tanks displayed no preference between a compartment with conspecifics or an artificial plant. Our results suggest the addition of an artificial plant as enrichment may benefit single-housed zebrafish when social housing is not possible.

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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Tri-Institutional Training Program in Laboratory Animal Medicine and Science, The Rockefeller University, Weill Cornell Medical College, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, New York, USA; University of Toronto, Division of Comparative Medicine, Toronto, Canada 2: The Rockefeller University, New York, New York, USA 3: The Rockefeller University, New York, New York, USA. [email protected]

Publication date: May 1, 2015

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  • The Journal of the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science (JAALAS) serves as an official communication vehicle for the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science (AALAS). The journal includes a section of refereed articles and a section of AALAS association news. The mission of the refereed section of the journal is to disseminate high-quality, peer-reviewed information on animal biology, technology, facility operations, management, and compliance as relevant to the AALAS membership. JAALAS accepts research reports (data-based) or scholarly reports (literature-based), with the caveat that all articles, including solicited manuscripts, must include appropriate references and must undergo peer review.

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