Rácz, A., Allan, B., Dwyer, T. et al. 2021. Identification of individual zebrafish (Danio rerio): A refined protocol for VIE tagging whilst considering animal welfare and the principles of the 3Rs. Animals 11(3), 616.
In aquatic ecology, studies have commonly employed a tagging technique known as visible implant elastomer (VIE). This method has not been widely adopted by the zebrafish research community and also lacks refinement with regard to animal welfare. The current paper introduces a new VIE tagging protocol, with the aim of improving existing tagging techniques by placing particular emphasis on the Three Rs. To improve animal welfare and fish survival, we added the use of an analgesic compound (lidocaine) through the marking procedure, followed by after-treatment with antiseptics (melaleuca, aloe vera, and PVP-I as active ingredients) to improve tissue regeneration and healing. The newly improved protocol has been quantitatively evaluated on different populations and age groups of zebrafish. This study will be useful to the scientific zebrafish community and to the wider field including biologist and aquarists, especially in consideration of animal welfare, where tagging techniques are considered as a potential noxious stimulus for fish.