Rácz, A., Adorján, G., Fodor, E. et al. 2021. Housing, husbandry and welfare of a “classic” fish model, the paradise fish (Macropodus opercularis). Animals 11(3), 786.
Thanks to its small size, external fertilization and fecundity, over the past four decades, zebrafish (Danio rerio) has become the dominant fish model species in biological and biomedical research. Multiple lines of evidence, however, suggest that the reliance on only a handful of genetic model organisms is problematic, as their unique evolutionary histories makes them less than ideal to study biological questions unrelated to their historically contingent adaptations. Therefore, a need has emerged to develop novel model species, better suited for studying particular problems. The paradise fish (Macropodus opercularis) has a much more complex behavioral repertoire than zebrafish and has been a favored model animal in ethological research during the last decades of the previous century. We believe that with currently available, easily adaptable genetic toolkits, this species could be easily developed into a popular model of behavioral genetics. Despite its earlier popularity, however, the description of a detailed housing and husbandry protocol for this species is still missing from scientific literature. We present here a detailed description of how to raise and breed paradise fish successfully under laboratory conditions, and also discuss some of the challenges we faced while creating a stable breeding population for this species in our facility.