Wallace, C. K., Bright, L. A., Marx, J. O. et al. 2018. Effectiveness of rapid cooling as a method of euthanasia for young zebrafish (Danio rerio). JAALAS 57(1), 58-63.

Despite increased use of zebrafish (Danio rerio) in biomedical research, consistent information regarding appropriate euthanasia methods, particularly for embryos, is sparse. Current literature indicates that rapid cooling is an effective method of euthanasia for adult zebrafish, yet consistent guidelines regarding zebrafish younger than 6 mo are unavailable. This study was performed to distinguish the age at which rapid cooling is an effective method of euthanasia for zebrafish and the exposure times necessary to reliably euthanize zebrafish using this method. Zebrafish at 3, 4, 7, 14, 16, 19, 21, 28, 60, and 90 d postfertilization (dpf) were placed into an ice water bath for 5, 10, 30, 45, or 60 min (n = 12 to 40 per group). In addition, zebrafish were placed in ice water for 12 h (age ≤14 dpf) or 30 s (age ≥14 dpf). After rapid cooling, fish were transferred to a recovery tank and the number of fish alive at 1, 4, and 12–24 h after removal from ice water was documented. Euthanasia was defined as a failure when evidence of recovery was observed at any point after removal from ice water. Results showed that younger fish required prolonged exposure to rapid cooling for effective euthanasia, with the required exposure time decreasing as fish age. Although younger fish required long exposure times, animals became immobilized immediately upon exposure to the cold water, and behavioral indicators of pain or distress rarely occurred. We conclude that zebrafish 14 dpf and younger require as long as 12 h, those 16 to 28 dpf of age require 5 min, and those older than 28 dpf require 30 s minimal exposure to rapid cooling for reliable euthanasia.

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