Physical enrichment of zebrafish held for research

Assess the effects of physical enrichment in the tank environment of Zebrafish held for research.


The study will aim to validate methods for assessing stress in Zebrafish before comparing tanks of fish with and without environmental enrichment.

Zebrafish (Danio rerio) are rapidly becoming the research animal of choice for animal model development for studies including basic physiological, disease pathogenesis and developmental research. While the fish are used for specific purposes within such projects, very little is done to understand the fish themselves in terms of optimum environment and social interactions.

If fish are stressed during experimental procedures, then results could be flawed. Understanding the possible biases produced by stress is critical when assessing whether the developed fish model design is appropriate.

Key methodology:

  • Initial validation of techniques for measuring tank water cortisol levels will be undertaken. Cortisol levels (whole fish and water concentrations) will be measured from fish subject to a number of treatments.
  • The effects of stress on lymphocyte telomere length will also be assessed as a measure of stress effect.
  • Behavioural observations will also be incorporated to assess stress behaviour.
  • The project will then study the effects of a simple device sold as the “Zeb” (hide) for affecting fish behaviour and stress reduction.
Stephen Pyecroft


Dr Stephen Pyecroft

Co-supervisors: Dr Susan Hazel | Dr Malcolm France - Consultant in Laboratory Animal Care and Management

Research area: Pathobiology, infectious disease and public health

Recommended honours enrolment: Honours in Animal Science

Tagged in Honours projects - Animal science, Honours projects - Ecology and environmental science, Honours projects - Stephen Pyecroft, Honours projects - Susan Hazel, Honours in Animal Science subtheme - Pathobiology infectious disease and public health, Honours in Animal Science subtheme - Animal behaviour