ZFIN ID: ZDB-PUB-210112-7
The ZE-Tunnel: An Affordable, Easy-to-Assemble, and User-Friendly Benchtop Zebrafish Swim Tunnel
Bek, J.W., De Clercq, A., Coucke, P.J., Willaert, A.
Date: 2021
Source: Zebrafish   18(1): 29-41 (Journal)
Registered Authors: Coucke, Paul, Willaert, Andy
Keywords: ZE-Tunnel, exercise, locomotion, swim tunnel, swimming, zebrafish
MeSH Terms:
  • Animals
  • Ethology/instrumentation
  • Laboratory Animal Science/instrumentation*
  • Physical Conditioning, Animal*
  • Swimming*
  • Zebrafish/physiology*
PubMed: 33428527 Full text @ Zebrafish
The popularity of zebrafish in both basic biological and biomedical research has led to an increased need for understanding their behavior. Locomotor behavior is an important outcome of different factors, such as specific genotypes or external stimuli that influence the nervous and musculoskeletal system. Locomotion can be studied by forced swimming in a swim tunnel, a device capable of generating a laminar water flow at different speeds in a chamber where zebrafish can be placed. However, commercially available swim tunnels are relatively expensive and in-house built systems are mostly presented without clear building instructions or proper validation procedures. In this study, we developed an alternative, cheap (<250 euro), and user-friendly, but customizable benchtop swim tunnel, called the "Zebrafish exercise-tunnel" (ZE-Tunnel). Detailed step-by-step instructions on how to construct the tunnel components, including the frame, mechanical, and electric components are given. The ZE-Tunnel was reliably used to exercise fish for prolonged periods and its performance was successfully validated by replicating previously published experiments on critical speed testing in zebrafish. Finally, implementation of behavioral video analysis using freely available motion-tracking software showed differences in swimming dynamics in the Chihuahua skeletal zebrafish mutant.