Thoré, E. S. J., Brendonck, L., Pinceel, T. 2020. Conspecific density and environmental complexity impact behaviour of turquoise killifish (Nothobranchius furzeri). Fish Biology 97(5), 1448–1461.
Fish models are essential for research in many biological and medical disciplines. With a typical lifespan of only 6 months, the turquoise killifish (Nothobranchius furzeri) was recently established as a time- and cost-efficient model to facilitate whole-life and multigenerational studies in several research fields, including behavioural ecotoxicology. Essential information on the behavioural norm and on how laboratory conditions affect behaviour, however, is deficient. In the current study, we examined the impact of the social and structural environment on a broad spectrum of behavioural end-points in N. furzeri. While structural enrichment affected only fish boldness and exploratory behaviour, fish rearing density affected the total body length, locomotor activity, boldness, aggressiveness and feeding behaviour of N. furzeri individuals. Overall, these results contribute to compiling a behavioural baseline for N. furzeri that increases the applicability of this new model species. Furthermore, our findings will fuel the development of improved husbandry protocols to maximize the welfare of N. furzeri in a laboratory setting.