The lack of standardized diet for laboratory animals can have profound effects on animal health and lead to less reproducible research outcomes. Live diets are commonly used in zebrafish culture and, although they are a more natural feed than flake or pellet food, are also a potential source of pathogens and toxic compounds. Heavy metals are a group of such compounds, which can accumulate in fish leading to developmental abnormalities, reduced growth, and increased rates of mortality. Two to three weeks after feeding adult zebrafish a new lot of nonhatching decapsulated brine shrimp cysts (Decaps), embryos at the University of Minnesota Zebrafish Core Facility (ZCF) and the University of Utah Centralized Zebrafish Animal Resource (CZAR) began to exhibit an orange color in the yolk, and larval health began to decline. The concentration of chromium in the Decaps (69.6 mg/kg) was more than 30 times that of other zebrafish diets tested (up to 2.1 mg/kg) and is thought to be the cause of the observed symptoms. Within 3 weeks of removing the Decaps from the feeding regimen, the orange coloration in the yolks began to diminish, the morphological abnormalities began to subside, and larval survival rates began to increase. Thus, implementation of standardized zebrafish diets and regular feed-quality testing may help to prevent the introduction of contaminants to zebrafish research facilities.
- brine shrimp