Have you ever heard of zebrafish? If you’re not part of the scientific research community, maybe not. However, zebrafish research is vital for the discovery of medical breakthroughs. Believe it or not, zebrafish and humans share similar genetic and biological structures, making them a model organism. Thus, they have become extremely valuable to researchers working on experiments in biology and genetics, giving rise to zebrafish research labs.
Clearly, if you take a fish out of the water, it’s not going to do so well. Yet simply keeping them in water isn’t enough either. Zebrafish and other fish are very sensitive to the water they live in. Think about how much local smog and air conditions can impact humans. For fish, water quality is every bit as important, if not more so. Oxygen levels, contaminants, pH levels, and salinity can all impact fish health. This makes zebrafish aquarium care vital.
Scientific research is very complex and intricate. Unforeseen abnormalities can derail and invalidate research. It’s important for researchers to ensure that zebrafish are being kept in nearly identical conditions across multiple habitats. Controlling for water quality parameters during experimentation and testing phases is vital. If a scientist fails to do so, experimental results could be called into question.
For the sensitive zebrafish, the risks of contamination are all the greater. Yet at the same time, their role in medical and scientific testing makes them invaluable. Scientists have to work hard to ensure that their zebrafish aquarium is properly cared for and maintained, but the rewards and benefits are worth it.
Zebrafish require very specific water quality conditions, and habitats should be monitored in case of fluctuations. Consider that as fish produce waste, they create carbonic acid. Large bodies of water, like oceans, naturally regulate acid and pH levels. However, a small enclosed zebrafish tank cannot. Fortunately, with pH sensors, you can monitor acidity levels. When necessary, sodium bicarbonate can be added automatically to counteract the carbonic acid.
Chlorine and Salinity Monitoring in Zebrafish Aquariums
Chlorine, which is commonly found in tap water, is particularly dangerous for zebrafish. Therefore, most water sources must be treated before they are used in the zebrafish habitat. Deionized water, distilled water, and water treated with reverse osmosis can all be used in lieu of tap water.
Of course, purified water is free of most salts. Saltwater fish, and especially zebrafish, are very sensitive to salinity levels as it impacts their internal osmosis. By using the appropriate toroidal conductivity sensor, it is possible to monitor salt levels with high accuracy. These sensors measure the conductivity of the water in the zebrafish aquarium, which can be converted to a salinity value using a compatible transmitter. Using the salinity data, salt levels can be adjusted via a PLC or other control instrumentation.
How to Implement Water Quality Monitoring in Zebrafish Research Labs
There are a number of sensors that you can use to monitor water conditions, ensuring proper zebrafish aquarium care. Conditions in a zebrafish tank can be adjusted using additives like sodium bicarbonate. Often, adjustments can be automated. Either way, they are necessary. If oxygen levels are too high, or pH levels are dropping to hazardous thresholds, researchers can act quickly before the zebrafish and research results are compromised.
Key equipment for automating water quality measurement and adjustment in zebrafish research labs includes:
pH Sensors: Flat surface pH glass is recommended for zebrafish tank monitoring, as cleaning can be minimized. A differential pH sensor will provide stable readings over the longest period of time, with limited maintenance.
pH Transmitters or Controllers: A transmitter or controller is used to adjust chemical dosing to optimize water quality conditions in the zebrafish habitat based on sensor readings.
Dissolved Oxygen Sensors: Dissolved oxygen can be measured using the electrochemical (galvanic) method. A large electrolyte reservoir extends the working life of the sensor, allowing for more time between services.
Conductivity Sensors: Conductivity sensors are used to measure salinity in a zebrafish tank. Since zebrafish ecosystems can have relatively high salinity levels, a toroidal conductivity sensor will provide the most accurate readings, without polarization effects.
Conductivity Transmitters or Controllers: For convenience, some toroidal conductivity transmitters feature built in firmware that automatically converts the conductivity reading into a salinity value.
If you are setting up a zebrafish water quality monitoring and treatment system for the first time, a Sensorex distributor can assist you with expert product recommendations. If you need to replace the sensors in your system, please consult our replacement guide to find a suitable replacement for the model you are currently using.