Zebrafish embryo activity measurements

From the moment of fertilization, zebrafish develop rapidly. Both fertilization and development take place outside of the mother, making it easy to monitor. Another advantage zebrafish embryos have is their transparency, which makes it easy to assess development in detail just by looking at them under a microscope. On top of this, zebrafish embryos can also be obtained in a relatively easy manner, year-round, and in high numbers.  

Embryo activity

The first spontaneous movements can take place as early as 17 hours post-fertilization (hpf). At 21 hpf, you are able to elicit touch-evoked tail coils, and at 27 hpf, they start showing swimming behavior (McKeown). They are also easily pharmacologically manipulated because they readily take up substances from their surrounding environment. All this means that you can start observing the development of locomotor activity and test the influence of pharmacological agents and genetics early on. 

High-throughput research

Given that zebrafish activity can be manipulated by certain compounds (Ahmad et al., 2012), it is no surprise that activity is a very useful parameter in many toxicological studies. Also, the relative ease with which large numbers of embryos are acquired in addition to their small size makes these kinds of test perfectly suitable for high-throughput research. For this, you need a reliable way to automatically measure activity in these embryos. Video analysis is the most efficient answer. 

DanioScope offers high quality activity detection of zebrafish embryos. It does not require a high contrast with the background and can detect multiple embryos simultaneously.  

Activity detection

DanioScope is able to automatically detect the embryo or embryos in your video and tracks their activity on a frame by frame basis. This way, you can detect tail coiling and other forms of activity automatically. 

Analysis and results

The results of your experiment are presented in graphs and tables, which allows you to easily compare between treatment groups and over time. 


McKeown, K.A.; Downes, G.B.; Hutson, L.D. (2009). Modular laboratory exercises to analyze the development of zebrafish motor behavior. Zebrafish, 6(2), 179-185.

Ahmad, F.; Noldus, L.P.J.J.; Tegelenbosch, R.A.J.; Richardson, M.K. (2012) Zebrafish embryos and larvae in behavioural assays. Behaviour, 149, 1241-1281.


Read all about research with zebrafish on our blog.