Title

Fish on Prozac: A simple, non-invasive physiology lab investigating the mechanisms of aggressive behavior in Betta splendens

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2007

Abstract

The neuromodulator serotonin is an important regulator of aggressive behavior in vertebrates. Experimentally increasing synaptic levels of serotonin with fluoxetine, a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor, has been shown to reliably decrease the expression of aggressive behavior. Here, we describe a method by which fluoxetine can be noninvasively administered to male Betta splendens (an attractive model for the study of aggressive behavior) and describe a simple laboratory exercise that allows students to experimentally investigate the physiological mechanisms of aggressive behavior. We demonstrate that relatively short-term exposure (3 h) of male bettas to as little as 3 μg/ml of fluoxetine-treated aquarium water is sufficient to reduce the expression of specific aggressive behaviors. We emphasize the physiological concepts that can be addressed with this exercise, including the role of the serotonergic system in regulating aggression, and the interplay of environmental contaminants and physiology in regulating the expression of behavior. We also highlight important aspects of experimental design. This exercise can be flexibly altered to accommodate one or several laboratory periods. It is also low cost, is low impact to the animals, and requires minimal preparation time for instructors.

Comments

Copyright 2007 American Physiological Society

Publication Title

Advances in Physiology Education

Published Citation

Lynn, SE, JM Egar, BG Walker, M Ramenofsky and TS Sperry. 2007. Fish on Prozac: A simple, non-invasive physiology lab investigating the mechanisms of aggressive behavior in Betta splendens. Advances in Physiology Education 31 (4):358-363.

DOI

10.​1152/​advan.​00024.​2007

Peer Reviewed