Morris water maze

The Morris water maze task is a popular and well-validated test for spatial learning, and is one of the most-used behavioral tests in neuroscience research with rat and mouse models.

The testing area is a round pool filled with water and a hidden platform is submerged just below the water surface. The rat or mouse learns to escape from the water by locating the platform, in most cases with the help of visual cues. Alternatively, the platform can be placed in another quadrant, or removed during another phase of the experiment. This way, memory retention and extinction can be investigated.

High quality pools

At Noldus, we offer several options for high quality mazes. They are either custom-built by us or one of our trusted suppliers. Several size and color options are available and each maze is from top materials, durable, and easy to clean. Most importantly, these water pools are perfectly suited for video tracking experiments and automated tests. We also supply accessory automated platforms.  

Morris water maze
The Morris water maze is available in different colors and sizes from several manufacturers
atlantis platform
On-demand platforms allow you to control the accessibility of the platform without having to get into the water. 

Package deal

All water mazes are available in a cost-efficient package deal that includes a computer and a full EthoVision XT software license for video tracking. This license can also be used for video tracking and automation of other behavioral tests.

Video tracking

In most water maze trials, the main goal is to measure how quickly the animal locates the platform, and how this ability improves over time. As a result, latency is of importance, but so is the average distance to the platform over time (e.g. Gallagher’s proximity).

Morris water maze and EthoVision XT

The swimming pattern itself can also be of interest. For example, it can be studied in order to uncover the navigational strategy of the animal. Whishaw’s error or heading angle error are examples of parameters that reflect the subject’s strategy.

ethovision xt arena definition water maze
Easily define the areas of interest in your water maze set-up within EthoVision XT. 
ethovision xt video tracking water maze
EthoVision XT accurately tracks the movement of your rat or mouse as it navigates through the water maze. 

The location of the animal relative to its previous location is important, especially in trials in which the platform is removed (or lowered so the animal can’t reach it). Therefore, the distance to this location or the time spent in the correct quadrant are important parameters.

The good news is that these parameters are easily measured by video tracking with EthoVision XT. In addition, EthoVision XT offers great data selection and analysis tools, and it has intuitive visualization options.

Automation options

We have automation options available if you want to use automatica/hydraulic Atlantis platforms. For example, we supply a combination of four platforms, one in each quadrant of the maze, which allows you to easily change the location of the platform over several trials without having to get into the water. 


In additional to custom-built Noldus water mazes, we offer water mazes from several suppliers, such as Ugo Basile and Maze Engineers (availability may depend on your location).

Read more

Find out more about EthoVision XT tracking software, or read more about The Morris water maze on our Noldus blog . You can also download the free Morris water maze white paper.

Recent blog posts on the Morris water maze

Alzheimer research

Experts estimate that by 2050, 100 million people will have Alzheimer’s disease (AD), which is a shockingly large number. Learn more about the research that has been done in order to find a cure.

Alzheimer and the Morris water maze task

First developed in 1981 by Richard Morris, the Morris water maze task is still one of the most popular tests for memory and learning in rodents.

Or take a look at the selection of recent publications.