Collymore, C., Tolwani, R. J., Rasmussen, S. 2015. The behavioral effects of single housing and environmental enrichment on adult zebrafish (Danio rerio). JAALAS. 54(3), 280-285.
Environmental enrichment provides laboratory-housed species the opportunity to express natural behavior and exert control over their home environment, thereby minimizing stress. We sought to determine whether providing an artificial plant in the holding tank as enrichment influenced anxiety-like behaviors and place-preference choice in adult zebrafish. Fish were housed singly or in social groups of 5 for 3 wk in 1 of 4 experimental housing environments: single-housed enriched (n = 30), single-housed barren (n = 30), group-housed enriched (n = 30), and group-housed barren (n = 30). On week 4, individual fish were selected randomly from each of the experimental housing environments and tested by using novel-tank, light–dark, and place-preference tests. Housing fish singly in a barren environment increased anxiety-like behaviors in the novel-tank and light–dark behavioral tests. Single-housed zebrafish in barren tanks as well as zebrafish group-housed with conspecifics, both with and without plant enrichment, spent more time associating with conspecifics than with the artificial plant enrichment device during the place-preference test. Single-housed fish maintained in enriched tanks displayed no preference between a compartment with conspecifics or an artificial plant. Our results suggest the addition of an artificial plant as enrichment may benefit single-housed zebrafish when social housing is not possible.