Methods for Fish Biology, 2nd edition

Chapter 2: Fish Husbandry and Maintaining Fish for Research Purposes

James D. Bowker, Jesse T. Trushenski, and Christopher C. Kohler

doi: https://doi.org/10.47886/9781934874615.ch2

Much of fish biology relies on experimentation involving live animals held in controlled settings (see Box 2.1). In some cases, the purpose of the research is to validate or further examine observations made in the field (e.g., fish are observed to congregate in habitats with certain flow rates or temperature profiles and researchers may wish to assess the effects of these or alternative conditions on metabolic rates or critical swimming speeds). In other circumstances, the research question may be more basic and unrelated to field work or to fisheries science at all (e.g., a line of Zebrafish Danio rerio has been developed as a “knock out” model to assess the influence of a certain gene on a developmental process or the progression of a particular disease). Readers of this volume are most likely to be conducting research somewhere in between, testing hypotheses to understand the mechanistic underpinnings of fish behavior and biology to better inform fisheries science. No matter the research question at hand, it is essential that live animals used in fish biology are properly cared for to ensure valid results and maintain acceptable standards of fish welfare. Regardless of researchers’ other subject matter interests or expertise, anyone working with live fish must become familiar with the basic principles of fish husbandry and handling. Fish or eggs may be collected in the wild and brought back to the laboratory for observation and testing—success requires familiarity with fish handling, transportation, and biosecurity practices. Some experiments may involve maintaining fish in captivity for extended periods of time—success requires understanding the principles of fish husbandry, including operation of rearing systems, water quality management, feeds and feeding, and so on. There are many excellent resources detailing the specifics of fish culture that are pertinent to maintaining fish for research purposes: