A fully integrated operant 'box' for adult zebrafish

Organizers: William J. Budenberg (Zantiks Ltd), Caroline H. Brennan (Queen Mary University of London) & Alistair J. Brock (Portsmouth University)

Description: We present a versatile, integrated device for behavioural testing of adult zebrafish, that is network connected, and is operated via its web page.  The device is delivered with an aquarium of size 200 x 140 x 150 (H) mm within which it is possible to place inserts for versatile use of the space. A single fish may be tracked continuously within the tank using an InfraRed backlight (from below the tank) and an integrated camera from above the tank.
Scripts may be written to control the device - these are currently compiled on a PC, and uploaded to the device from its web page. Many scripts may be loaded onto a device, and these can then be selected and started and stopped from the system's web page using any browser. Each tank offers an integrated feeder which can supply small quantities of fine pellet food on demand, and an integrated display screen, which can be used to present stimuli to the fish. The location of the stimuli can be controlled in software, and the systems are delivered with inserts suitable for running simple operant tasks. As well as feeding the fish, and presenting visual stimuli, electrical shock stimuli may be given using suitable inserts (also supplied). Live images of the aquarium can be viewed on any connected browser.
A log file is created on the device that records the information that has been specified in the script. This allows for processed results to be downloaded direct from the web page to your computer for collation and further analysis. Fish/experiment ID can be entered when a script is started, if specified in the script. Logging can be very detailed (from XY coordinates multiple times a second) or entirely outcome oriented (i.e. task completion to reward,task omission, etc.).
This equipment will enable low cost, high quality behavioural testing for adult zebrafish across a range of operant paradigms. To date we have used the equipment to assess zebrafish two choice discrimination learning, impulse control and short term memory using matching to sample. Currently we are running 8 at QMUL, and hope to install 12 further ones in the near future. Currently all tanks are independently controlled from their individual web pages, but collective control of multiple units at once is envisaged in the future.