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Physiol Behav. 1998 Dec 1;65(3):465-72.

Circadian rhythms of locomotor activity in zebrafish.

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University of Houston, Department of Biology and Biochemistry, TX 77204-5513, USA.


As part of an effort to characterize the circadian system of the zebrafish, we examined the circadian regulation of locomotor activity in adult males and females. Gross locomotor activity was measured using infrared movement detectors. The effects of light, dark, and temperature on the amplitude, phase, and free-running periods of locomotor rhythms were determined. When zebrafish were maintained in a 12-h light:12 h dark cycle at 25 degrees C, 86% of the fish were most active during the light phase of the cycle. The phases of free-running rhythms measured after transfer of fish from light cycles to constant conditions indicate that this diurnal activity profile reflects entrained circadian rhythmicity. When animals were maintained in constant conditions, the proportion that expressed significant circadian rhythmicity depended on ambient temperature. At 21 degrees C, 73% of the animals were rhythmic in constant darkness, and 65% were rhythmic in constant light. Fewer (28-59%) were rhythmic at 18 degrees, 25 degrees, and 28.5 degrees C. The free-running period of rhythmic animals was not affected by temperature within this range. The average period was shorter in constant light (LL; 12 lx) than in constant darkness (DD) in all but one experiment, and the difference was statistically significant for animals held at 21 degrees C. These data indicate that zebrafish locomotor activity is regulated by a circadian clock that is temperature compensated. Because rhythmicity is most robust at 21 degrees C, this would be the optimal temperature for future studies of the physiological basis of zebrafish behavioral rhythms.

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