Behavior Research Methods

, Volume 38, Issue 3, pp 456-469

First online:

Behavioral phenotyping in zebrafish: Comparison of three behavioral quantification methods

  • Rachel BlaserAffiliated withUniversity of Hawaii at Manoa
  • , Robert GerlaiAffiliated withUniversity of Hawaii at ManoaDepartment of Psychology, University of Toronto Email author 


The zebrafish has been popular in developmental biology and genetics, but its brain function has rarely been studied. High-throughput screening of mutation or drug-induced changes in brain function requires simple and automatable behavioral tests. This article compares three behavioral quantification methods in four simple behavioral paradigms that test a range of characteristics of adult zebrafish, including novelty-induced responses, social behavior, aggression, and predator-model—induced responses. Two quantification methods, manual recording and computerized videotracking of location and activity, yielded very similar results, suggesting that automated videotracking reliably measures activity parameters and will allow high-throughput screening. However, observation-based event recording of posture patterns was found generally not to correlate with videotracking measures, suggesting that further refinement of automated behavior quantification may be considered.