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Aquatic Animal Models Subcore

Sea Urchin

a male and female
Nothobranchius furzeri strain GRZ

a single male
Nothobranchius furzeri strain GRZ

The Animal Models Core has recently established an Aquatic Animal Research Core (AARC) to facilitate research using important aquatic animal models, including zebrafish and killifish. Recent reviews support the utility of these models in biomedical research related to nutrition and obesity. The Core offers the ability to rear these model organisms in a defined environment, and is the only facility in the U.S. that offers custom diets of chemically-defined ingredients and nutrients for evaluation of the effects of specific nutrients, nutraceuticals, drugs, toxicants, or combinations thereof. Carcass analysis is available through related Core facilities.


The AARC was developed in 2007 to support the use of aquatic animal models in research in the NORC. Initially funded by NIH, the AARC is composed of ca. 400 tanks dedicated to the support of nutrition and obesity research using appropriate aquatic models. The AARC can formulate and provide aquatic diets for inclusion of specific nutrients, toxicants, or drugs and provide feed management as determined by experimental protocols.


This core provides three unique animal models to researchers interested in how various aspects of diet and nutrition may impact experimental outcomes. These include the zebrafish (Danio rerio) with several wild type strains available. It also includes the newest model, the killifish Nothobranchius furzeri (GRZ strain). This killifish has the shortest lifespan of any cultured vertebrate species. All fish are fed chemically-defined diets and we maintain knowledge of their nutritional and environmental history. The core will house and feed animals for the duration of a defined experimental period and provide all feeding and daily care. Quantitative chemical lipid analysis of carcass is available through the NORC Small Animal Core.


The core maintains wild-type lines of the fresh water fish Danio rerio (zebrafish) and Nothobranchius furzeri and one marine species the sea urchin, Lytechinus variegatus (an excellent model for early embryological development). The Aquatic Animal Research Core infrastructure includes:

  • Two five-shelf systems capable of holding up to 60, 2.8 liter tanks for zebrafish
  • Two six-shelf systems capable of holding up to 72, 2.8 liter tanks for zebrafish
  • A 1100 liter self-contained freshwater Marineland aquaria system
  • One six-shelf system capable of holding up to 72, 2.8 liter tanks for N. furzeri
  • A 3,700 liter recirculating artificial saltwater system for saltwater species.

All systems are equipped with mechanical, biological, and UV sterilization equipment. All core water is provided by an R/O unit attached to cation/anion resin and water quality in all systems is monitored by core personnel.


Tank Charge $0.22/day (15 fish/tank, zebrafish Danio rerio, AB strain)
$0.22/day (containing one male and one female, killifish Nothobranchius furzeri, GRZ strain)
Embryo Production $5.00 for a male-female pair overnight, zebrafish only
Feed $115/250 gram (additional consideration for specialty Ingredients or drugs)
Chemical Carcass Analysis (Fat Analysis) $15/sample



Stephen Watts, PhD
Department of Biology
College of Arts and Sciences
Phone: (205) 934-2045