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Published Online: 28 July 2014

Growth and Maturation in the Zebrafish, Danio Rerio: A Staging Tool for Teaching and Research

Publication: Zebrafish
Volume 11, Issue Number 4


Zebrafish have been increasingly used as a teaching tool to enhance the learning of many biological concepts from genetics, development, and behavior to the understanding of the local watershed. Traditionally, in both research and teaching, zebrafish work has focused on embryonic stages; however, later stages, from larval through adulthood, are increasingly being examined. Defining developmental stages based on age is a problematic way to assess maturity, because many environmental factors, such as temperature, population density, and water quality, impact growth and maturation. Fish length and characterization of key external morphological traits are considered better markers for maturation state. While a number of staging series exist for zebrafish, here we present a simplified normalization table of post-embryonic maturation well suited to both educational and research use. Specifically, we utilize fish size and four easily identified external morphological traits (pigment pattern, tail fin, anal fin, and dorsal fin morphology) to describe three larval stages, a juvenile stage, and an adult stage. These simplified maturation standards will be a useful tool for both educational and research protocols.

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Published In

cover image Zebrafish
Volume 11Issue Number 4August 2014
Pages: 396 - 406
PubMed: 24979389


Published in print: August 2014
Published online: 28 July 2014
Published ahead of print: 30 June 2014


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Corinna Singleman
Department of Biology, Queens College, City University of New York, Queens, New York.
The Graduate Center, City University of New York, New York, New York.
Nathalia G. Holtzman
Department of Biology, Queens College, City University of New York, Queens, New York.
The Graduate Center, City University of New York, New York, New York.


Address correspondence to:Nathalia G. HoltzmanDepartment of BiologyQueens CollegeCity University of New York65-30 Kissena BoulevardQueens, NY 11367-1597E-mail: [email protected]

Disclosure Statement

No competing financial interests exist.

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