Xu, C., Hou, M., Su, L. et al. 2022. The effect of environmental enrichment on laboratory rare minnows (Gobiocypris rarus): Growth, physiology, and behavior. Animals 12(4), 514.
Environmental enrichment is a method to increase environmental heterogeneity, which may reduce stress and improve animal welfare. Previous studies have shown that environmental enrichment can increase the growth rate, decrease aggressive and anxiety-like behaviors, improve learning ability and agility, and reduce cortisol levels in animals. These effects usually differ between species. Unfortunately, habitat enrichment on laboratory fish is poorly studied and seldom adopted in care guidance. Rare minnows (Gobiocypris rarus) have been cultured as a native laboratory fish in China in barren banks without environmental enrichment since 1990; they have been widely used in studies on ecotoxicology, environmental science, and other topics. The purpose of this study was to investigate the effect of environment enrichment on the growth, physiological status, and anxiety-like behavior of laboratory rare minnows. We observed and analyzed SGR, cortisol levels, DA, DOPAC, 5-HT and 5-HIAA, and anxiety-like behavior indexes after one month of treatment in barren (control) and enrichment tanks. We found that there were no significant differences in SGR, anxiety-like behavior, DA, DOPAC, or 5-HIAA levels between the two treatments. However, higher cortisol and 5-HT levels were observed in the enrichment tanks. This study suggests that rare minnows might be influenced by their living environment, and future related studies should consider their environmental enrichment.