(Fwd) Are plants making fish happy???

V L Pritchard genvlp at gps.leeds.ac.uk
Wed Mar 25 14:07:09 EST 1998

Dear Thomas and Eva,

I work with wild zebrafish which I collected in Nepal and Bangladesh
(they come from South rather than Southeast Asia). I mainly found them
in small, sluggish bodies of water with plenty of aquatic plants; I also
found them in some large rivers and in a shallow, sandy stream where
they were shoaling under plant cover at the edges. In the lab, wild fish
are unhappy and reluctant to breed unless they have a
"natural"environment with gravel and "plants". This may be why some
zebrafish researchers seem to have trouble with them. I make my "plants"
by cutting up green plastic mesh and putting(floating) it in the tanks;
they can be taken out in a second and are easy to keep clean, although
small fish do occasionally get stuck in them.

Lab stocks of zebrafish which have been in captivity for many
generations however, are a different case and are likely to be adapted
to the standard lab conditions, both as a result of individuals being
reared in these conditions and of genes suited to the lab environment
having been selected for over time. My guess is that keeping these fish
like this is probably much less cruel then a lot of standard farming
practices are.

  Vicky Pritchard

Department of Biology,
University of Leeds,

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