The effects of habitat complexity on aggression and fecundity in zebrafish (Danio rerio)

Abstract

Female zebrafish housed in aquaria with spatial complexity (plastic plants) over a 13–16-week period showed reduced levels of aggressive behavior compared to females in bare tanks. In tanks with plants, there was no relationship between levels of aggression and fecundity but, in bare tanks, females experiencing the highest levels of aggression showed reduced fecundity. Our results suggest that it may be beneficial, when maintaining zebrafish at moderate to high densities or working with especially aggressive strains, to house them in spatially complex conditions.

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Acknowledgments

We thank Brian Khoo and Claire Kuo for excellent fish care; Ben Lindsey for assistance with the behavior observations; Don Jackson and Locke Rowe for statistical advice; James Burns and Anna Price for discussion; and David Noakes and anonymous reviewers for helpful suggestions. We thank the Department of Zoology at the University of Toronto, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada to HR and AB, and a Connaught Start-Up award to AB for funding.

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Correspondence to F. Helen Rodd.

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Carfagnini, A.G., Rodd, F.H., Jeffers, K.B. et al. The effects of habitat complexity on aggression and fecundity in zebrafish (Danio rerio). Environ Biol Fish 86, 403–409 (2009). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10641-009-9539-7

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Keywords

  • Habitat complexity
  • Zebrafish
  • Danio rerio
  • Aggression
  • Fecundity