TitleA simple automated system for appetitive conditioning of zebrafish in their home tanks.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2017
AuthorsDoyle, Jillian M., Neil Merovitch, Russell C. Wyeth, Matthew R. Stoyek, Michael Schmidt, Florentin Wilfart, Alan Fine, and Roger P. Croll
JournalBehav Brain Res
Date Published2017 Jan 15

We describe here an automated apparatus that permits rapid conditioning paradigms for zebrafish. Arduino microprocessors were used to control the delivery of auditory or visual stimuli to groups of adult or juvenile zebrafish in their home tanks in a conventional zebrafish facility. An automatic feeder dispensed precise amounts of food immediately after the conditioned stimuli, or at variable delays for controls. Responses were recorded using inexpensive cameras, with the video sequences analysed with ImageJ or Matlab. Fish showed significant conditioned responses in as few as 5 trials, learning that the conditioned stimulus was a predictor of food presentation at the water surface and at the end of the tank where the food was dispensed. Memories of these conditioned associations persisted for at least 2days after training when fish were tested either as groups or as individuals. Control fish, for which the auditory or visual stimuli were specifically unpaired with food, showed no comparable responses. This simple, low-cost, automated system permits scalable conditioning of zebrafish with minimal human intervention, greatly reducing both variability and labour-intensiveness. It will be useful for studies of the neural basis of learning and memory, and for high-throughput screening of compounds modifying those processes.

Alternate JournalBehav. Brain Res.
PubMed ID27659557