Smith College Center for Zebrafish Research and Teaching

Why Zebrafish?

The zebrafish has recently become a favorite vertebrate model system to many researchers studying everything from embryonic development to the neural circuits driving adult behaviors! Most importantly, zebrafish is the fastest developing vertebrate model system, going from a one-cell embryo to an embryo with a functioning nervous system in less than 24h. Additionally, zebrafish embryos are optically transparent, enabling the observation of single cell movement and tissue formation in living embryos. Experimentally, zebrafish provide the ability to use genetics, classical embryology, molecular biology, physiology, and pharmacology to answer our research questions. Click here to download a timelapse movie of a zebrafish embryo developing. Credit: Don Kane and Rolf Karlstrom, 1996.

What happens in this Center?

As its name implies, this Center facilitates the use of the zebrafish model system for faculty and students engaged in both research and teaching endeavors. Currently multiple Smith College faculty have approved IACUC protocols in place for their lab’s research using zebrafish. Moreover, at least three different courses actively incorporate zebrafish into their curriculum. For instance, every semester students in the Neuroscience Experimental Methods course (NSC230) use zebrafish to probe the mechanisms of nervous system development and behavior with authentic research questions and designs. Lastly, the Center for ZebRaT plays a significant role enabling outreach programs like “Student Scientists” that serve to enhance primary and secondary education throughout the Pioneer Valley.

The ZebrafishFacility

The Zebrafish Facility is approximately 770 square feet with a housing capacity range of 15,000 – 25,000 zebrafish depending on facility use strategies. The facility is equipped with a recirculating system engineering, installed and maintained by Aquaneering Inc.  To reduce chances of fish illnesses, the facility also has an isolated quarantine rack to house fish derived from other laboratories. Equipped with a mass-mating chamber for large clutch yields, two shelves with enclosed light boxes for time-dependent experiments, and plenty of bench space for pairwise and group zebrafish mating procedures, this Center is ready to leverage all the advantages of the Zebrafish to solve the questions of tomorrow’s science  – basic and clinical alike. Most importantly, our fish our well cared for by two dedicated Animal Care Technicians following all IACUC procedures for the ethical care of animals. We are proud of our Center’s “AAALAC” accreditation.


Contact Information:

Director: Michael J.F. Barresi

Animal Care Facility Manager: Heidi Denman



Zebrafish Controlled Mating Procedure