Boldness, Aggression, and Shoaling Assays for Zebrafish Behavioral Syndromes

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Abstract: A behavioral syndrome exists when specific behaviors interact under different contexts. Zebrafish have been test subjects in recent studies and it is important to standardize protocols to ensure proper analyses and interpretations. In our previous studies, we have measured boldness by monitoring a series of behaviors (time near surface, latency in transitions, number of transitions, and darts) in a 1.5 L trapezoidal tank. Likewise, we quantified aggression by observing bites, lateral displays, darts, and time near an inclined mirror in a rectangular 19 L tank. By dividing a 76 L tank into thirds, we also examined shoaling preferences. The shoaling assay is a highly customizable assay and can be tailored for specific hypotheses. However, protocols for this assay also must be standardized, yet flexible enough for customization. In previous studies, end chambers were either empty, contained 5 or 10 zebrafish, or 5 pearl danios (D. albolineatus). In the following manuscript, we present a detailed protocol and representative data that accompany successful applications of the protocol, which will allow for replication of behavioral syndrome experiments.

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