Pseudoloma neurophilia, a microsporidium that primarily infects neural tissues, is a common pathogen in laboratory zebrafish. The risk of parasite transmission with different spawning apparatuses and the effectiveness of disinfection are unknown. In this study, we spawned uninfected zebrafish with P. neurophilia-infected zebrafish in either 50 L mass spawning chambers (MSCs) or 1 L standard breeding tanks (BTs). Fish were spawned once or thrice, with and without chamber disinfection between uses, to evaluate risk of vertical and horizontal transmission. Six disinfection protocols were tested to determine which effectively eliminated residual spores. We demonstrated that three consecutive uses of an MSC significantly increased the risk of transmission to other fish when compared to the use of BTs or only one spawning event in an MSC (both p < 0.0001). Vertical transmission was not detected with any method. Disinfection with ∼100 ppm bleach soak (pH ∼7.0), 75 ppm Wescodyne® soak, and 175 ppm Wescodyne Plus spray was 100% effective in eliminating spores from the MSCs. Disinfection of MSCs before spawning did not decrease P. neurophilia transmission when infected fish remained present in the breeding population. Researchers should avoid using endemically infected fish in MSCs to minimize transmission of pathogens within their colonies.
Keywords: Pseudoloma neurophilia; disinfection; mass spawning chamber; microsporidian; transmission; zebrafish.