Camson, C. T., Palillo, J. A., Fehrenbach, L. A. et al. 2023. Evaluation of disinfection methods for artificial plants in zebrafish (Danio rerio) recirculating water systems. JAALAS 62(6), 512–517.

The use of artificial plants as environmental enrichment for zebrafish (Danio rerio) in biomedical research facilities has been shown to provide benefits in animal welfare and care. Despite the benefits of artificial plants to zebrafish welfare, some research facilities are hesitant to incorporate them into their routine husbandry practices due to concerns about disease transmission and a lack of guidance on effective disinfection practices between tanks. Limited published information is available on how to adequately disinfect artificial plants, which creates concerns regarding their reuse between tanks in recirculating water systems. Proper sanitation and disinfection of these items is crucial to preventing the spread of disease in the system. We evaluated 2 disinfection methods– a commercial-grade laboratory glassware dishwasher and an ethylene oxide (ETO) sterilizer–by using ATP detection and bacterial culture of the artificial plants before and after the disinfection process. Plants were placed in the dirty sump of 2 separate recirculating systems (2,500 to 3,000 fish per system) for 2 wk before the start of the study. High ATP levels and various bacterial organisms were detected prior to disinfection. The commercial-grade laboratory glassware dishwasher and ETO sterilizer both significantly reduced ATP levels and resulted in complete eradication of live bacteria that were present before treatment. This study demonstrates 2 effective methods for disinfecting artificial plants in zebrafish facilities.

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