Better anesthesia for zebrafish

Marrabbio2 [Public domain] via Wikimedia Commons

Millions of zebrafish (Danio rerio) are used in laboratories around the world, often as part of developmental studies. Zebrafish embryos are transparent and develop externally, facilitating observation and manipulation of the developmental process and leading to greater understanding of developmental defects and diseases. As research subjects, fish are often anesthetized for handling, sample collection and surgical procedures (e.g., fin clipping) and as the first step in euthanasia. Various anesthetic agents may be used for this purpose, but despite routine use, no studies have formally assessed how well the agents are tolerated by fish or whether they trigger aversive behavioral responses. The lack of information impedes the establishment of best practices for zebrafish anesthesia. Joanna C. Murrell, a lecturer in veterinary anesthesia at University of Bristol (Langford, UK), explained, “With tens of millions of fish used in science around the world, it is very important that the anaesthetics used… are the most humane available and do not themselves cause a stress response.” Murrell worked with Gareth Readman (Brixham Environmental Laboratory, AstraZeneca, Devon, UK) to evaluate nine of the most commonly used fish anesthetics.

Lab Anim. (NY) 42, 401 (2013).
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