Zebrafish Health and Welfare Glossary - Background

Due to their similarity to humans and their practical advantages for research and colony management, Zebrafish are now used in research as an alternative to mammalian species. The importance of this species has led to the creation of thousands of genetically altered zebrafish around the world, which have the potential to display a range of clinical and behavioural symptoms.  

In recent years, genetically altered zebrafish have been available to the community through collaboration and centralized repositories. With this availability it is critical to ensure that the husbandry requirements of the animals and potential welfare issues are well communicated between animal caretakers, students, researchers, PIs, institutional administrators and animal welfare compliance officers.  

What are fish welfare terms?

The zebrafish welfare terms have been created to ensure a standardized approach is taken when recording welfare concerns across facilities. By achieving a standardized approach we have the capability to raise awareness of potential health concerns, which can be specific to different genetic backgrounds or variable environmental influences in different facilities.

Why use standardized welfare terms?

  • To ensure signs of disease are observed at the earliest possible time, and communicated appropriately when creating and reviewing husbandry records, allowing for appropriate husbandry to be immediately provided
  • To gain better knowledge of phenotypes, allowing for the clear recording and understanding of this information as well as ensuring adequate husbandry techniques are provided based on the phenotype observed
  • To adhere to humane end points
  • To ensure animals are checked and confirmed healthy before shipping
  • To provide information and clear terminology regarding the health status of the animals that are supplied to / received from another fish facility. This will ensure adequate quarantine procedure and husbandry provisions are in place before receipt of the animals.
  • To track and score severity and prevalence of disease outbreaks in a colony
  • Ensure comparability of results between facilities, animal welfare compliance reports, and accreditation reports, for example with AAALACi