Sundin, J., Morgan, R., Finnøen, M. H. et al. 2019. On the observation of wild zebrafish (Danio rerio) in India. Zebrafish 16(6), 546-553.
Zebrafish is one of the world's most widely used laboratory species, and it is utilized to answer important research questions in disparate fields such as biomedicine, genetics, developmental biology, pharmacology, toxicology, physiology, and evolution. Despite their popularity, very little is known about the biology of zebrafish in their natural habitat. This may, in part, be due to the difficulties associated with undertaking field trips to the remote areas of northern India, Nepal, and Bangladesh, which is the natural distribution range of zebrafish. Here, we present a field report describing a recent trip where we, together with local collaborators, visited several rivers in West Bengal, India, to observe wild zebrafish and their habitat. We present an overview of our observations on the biology of wild zebrafish, and the great variability of the different environments where they were found. We also include data collected on water chemistry parameters at 12 zebrafish sites, and weight data and photos of fish from these sites. We present extensive underwater videos of wild zebrafish and photographs of the sites, including video footage of courtship behavior. We show that the breeding period of wild zebrafish can be extended from the previous record of April–August to April–October. In addition, we provide practical advice for future zebrafish expeditions to this rural and inaccessible area. The goals of this article are to shed some light on the ecology of wild zebrafish, and to facilitate scientists in their future research trips. We hope that by observing zebrafish in the wild, we can increase our understanding of the natural ecology of this important model organism.