The Effects of Water Volume and Bacterial Concentration on the Water Filtration Assay Used in Zebrafish Health Surveillance

J Am Assoc Lab Anim Sci. 2021 Nov 1;60(6):655-660. doi: 10.30802/AALAS-JAALAS-21-000004. Epub 2021 Sep 1.


The number of zebrafish in biomedical research has increased exponentially over the past decades, leading to pressure on the laboratory animal community to develop and refine techniques to monitor zebrafish health so that suitable stocks can be maintained for research. The water filtration assay is a promising technique in which water from a zebrafish system is filtered, and the filter analyzed by PCR. In the present report, we studied how the volume of water tested and the concentration of bacterial pathogens affected test results. To do so, we used stock solutions of 3 zebrafish pathogens: Edwardsiella ictaluri, Aeromonas hydrophila, and Mycobacterium marinum. We used these stocks to create solutions with known concentrations of each pathogen, ranging between 10² and 107 Colony Forming Units (CFU) per ml. One, 2, and 3 L of each solution was filtered using positive pressure, and the filters were submitted to a commercial lab for PCR testing. Results were fit with a logistic regression model, and the probability of obtaining a positive result were calculated. Test sensitivity varied by organism, but in general, test results were positively correlated with the volume of the water filtered and with the concentration of bacteria in solution. We conclude that a positive result can be expected for E. ictaluri at 105 CFU per mL, A. hydrophila at 106 CFU per ml, and M. marinum at 106 CFU per mL, when 3 L of solution are filtered.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bacteria
  • Edwardsiella ictaluri
  • Filtration
  • Water*
  • Zebrafish*


  • Water