A novel method for rearing first-feeding larval zebrafish: polyculture with Type L saltwater rotifers (Brachionus plicatilis)

Zebrafish. 2010 Sep;7(3):289-95. doi: 10.1089/zeb.2010.0667.


Promoting high rates of growth and survival can be a major challenge in zebrafish culture, especially during the first-feeding stage. Here we describe a new rearing technique in which zebrafish larvae are polycultured in static tanks with Type "L" saltwater rotifers (Brachionus plicatilis) for the first 5 days of feeding (days 5-9 postfertilization). To demonstrate the effectiveness of this technique, we conducted rearing trials using fish from two different strains: AB and nacre. Growth, survival, water quality, and rotifer density were assayed daily through the polyculture phase (days 5-9), and during the transition to standard rearing conditions (days 10-12). After that point, once the fish were fully integrated onto recirculating systems, parameters were measured once per week out to day 30. In all trials, the fish displayed high rates of growth and survival throughout the three phases (polyculture, transition, and recirculating flow), indicating that this method may be employed during the critical first-feeding stage to help improve rearing performance in zebrafish facilities. Additionally, water quality parameters observed during the polyculture phase of the trials reveal that early zebrafish larvae are much more tolerant of elevated levels of ammonia and salinity than previously believed.

MeSH terms

  • Animal Feed*
  • Animal Husbandry / methods*
  • Animals
  • Aquaculture / methods*
  • Larva / growth & development
  • Rotifera
  • Zebrafish / growth & development*