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Fish species in animal experimentation



Daily coordinator for questions and administrative issues: G.C. van der Velden MSc


The course aims to provide knowledge that is essential for understanding the humane use and care of fish as laboratory animals and for the quality of research using fish species. This course is obligatory before starting an internship that involves handling or experimental use of fish species. One part of the course is a general introduction about the specific responsibilities (both legal and moral) of a scientist, as the central person in the design and conduct of animal experiments, for the management of the study and the welfare of the animals used. Legal and ethical frameworks for the use of laboratory animals will be discussed. Common laboratory species will be introduced, including some features of anatomy and physiology. Information required for ethical review, the choice of animal species, the origin of the animals, animal housing and husbandry, environmental conditions, humane endpoints, whether or not induction of a disease is needed, and the methods for anesthesia or humane killing are discussed. This general introduction to laboratory animal science is complemented by a specific theoretical and practical program on the use of fish as experimental animals. The program will cover different research areas using fish species, including, biomedical research, developmental research, behavioral research, ecotoxicology, aquaculture-related research and wildlife studies. An overview will be given about commonly used fish species in these research areas, and, in particular, a strong emphasis will be placed on the use of zebrafish for biomedical research. In a series of lectures, the course participants will be introduced to fish development, anatomy and physiology, the immune system, disease modelling and drug screening, recognition of discomfort, stress and pain, disease symptoms and health monitoring, anesthesia/euthanasia methods, genetic modification, behavioral research, experiments with fish in the wild. Finally, an introduction will be given about zebrafish facility management and husbandry.

Learning goals

Learning Objectives:
Understanding of the various factors that have a direct or indirect impact on fish as laboratory animals and the results of an animal study. Possessing knowledge of the developmental, anatomical, physiological and behavioral characteristics, genetic modification, and research applications of fish species. Possessing the knowledge to recognize symptoms of fear, pain, discomfort and disease in fish to apply humane endpoints. Knowledge of methods of handling and procedures on fish and requirements for husbandry.

Final Qualifications:

Under strict supervision of licensed personnel, the student is allowed to perform basic procedures on laboratory or wild fish species. The course includes all aspects of a species-specific module (a certificate will be provided). When you will or have successfully completed a basic animal experimentation course (article 9 course) together with this species-specific course, you are licensed to design procedures and projects for fish.


11-13 February 2020: Species-specific fish course theory
This is a 3-day program with lectures and practical assignments. Depending on the number of participants additional practical sessions may be organized in between 18- 20 February 2020.
14 February 2020: General introduction to animal experimentation. This is a one-day program with lectures and discussions, which requires preparation in advance (instructions will be provided on Blackboard). Participants already in the possession of an article 9 certificate can apply for exemption from this part of the course.
21 February 2020: Exam

Mode of instruction

The course consists of a lecture program and practical assignments in the zebrafish facility.
The general introduction part also contains an ethical review session.

Assessment method

Written examination
Attendance to all lectures and practicals in compulsory in order to receive the certificate.



Reading list

General introduction on animal experimentation: Central Authority for Scientific Procedures on Animals Directive 2010/63/EUon the protection of animals used for scientific purposes Directive 2010/63/EU, working documents Dutch Experiments on Animals Act Humane Endpoints Dutch Society for the Replacement of Animal Testing Stichting informatie dierproeven


Via Usis and via enrollment in Blackboard

Exchange and Study Abroad students, please see the Prospective students website for more information on how to apply.