Optimising diet boosts zebrafish survival

A group from the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute have won the annual NC3Rs poster prize at the LASA 2012 Winter Meeting for work investigating the effect of diet on zebrafish development, which has increased survival rates to 91%.
Research from the Sanger Institute Zebrafish Mutation Project investigates a variety of feeding regimens to support young zebrafish development.
Variations in survival rates and numbers of deformities were seen across the different diets, which include powdered and live feed. The most promising and successful results are observed with the addition of a live ciliate protozoa, paramecia, to the diet. Zebrafish larvae fed from 5-15 days post-fertilisation have an increased survival rate of 91% with fewer deformities, compared to 30-82% on dry diets only. In addition, a diet with paramecia significantly reduces gender bias present in the lines, while also reducing breeding times from six to three months.
This work assessing the husbandry requirements of zebrafish, takes a fresh look particularly in terms of the nutritional needs developing fry. The impact on both the number of zebrafish required per experiment and their welfare is potentially huge, making it the perfect recipient of the poster prize. The approach has already been introduced in other facilities and could in the future lead to standardised feeding regimens for raising zebrafish fry.
The £500 prize enables the work to be presented at another conference and will help disseminate the welfare benefits more widely.

To read a blog post on this research visit the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute blog.

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