Novel Husbandry Practices Result in Rapid Rates of Growth and Sexual Maturation Without Impacting Adult Behavior in the Blind Mexican Cavefish. Academic Article uri icon


  • Animal model systems are dependent on the standardization of husbandry protocols that maximize growth and reduce generation time. The Mexican tetra, Astyanax mexicanus, exists as eyed surface and blind cave dwelling populations. The opportunity for comparative approaches between independently evolved populations has led to the rapid growth of A. mexicanus as a model for evolution and biomedical research. However, a slow and inconsistent growth rate remains a major limitation to the expanded application of A. mexicanus. Fortunately, this temporal limitation can be addressed through husbandry changes that accelerate growth rates while maintaining optimal health outcomes. Here, we describe a husbandry protocol that produces rapid growth rates through changes in diet, feeding frequency, growth sorting and progressive changes in tank size. This protocol produced robust growth rates and decreased the age of sexual maturity in comparison to our previous protocol. To determine whether changes in feeding impacted behavior, we tested fish in exploration and schooling assays. We found no difference in behavior between the two groups, suggesting that increased feeding and rapid growth will not impact the natural variation in behavioral traits. Taken together, this standardized husbandry protocol will accelerate the development of A. mexicanus as a genetic model.

published proceedings

  • Zebrafish

altmetric score

  • 5

author list (cited authors)

  • Kozol, R. A., Yuiska, A., Han, J. H., Tolentino, B., Lopatto, A., Lewis, P., ... Dubou, E. R.

citation count

  • 2

complete list of authors

  • Kozol, Robert A||Yuiska, Anders||Han, Ji Heon||Tolentino, Bernadeth||Lopatto, Arthur||Lewis, Peter||Paz, Alexandra||Keene, Alex C||Kowalko, Johanna E||DubouĂ©, Erik R

publication date

  • April 2023