Locomotor Activity in Larval Zebrafish

Locomotor activity is one of the repertoire of larval zebrafish behaviour that can be measured even in a small environment like a plate well. The six days post-fertilization (dpf) larvae have a functioning sensory and motor system allowing studies of locomotor escape, goal-orientated and optomotor responses. Such behavioural responses can also be tested with compounds to assess their efficacy.

The larvae are placed individually in wells in a multiwell plate which is inserted into the MWP unit. The unit has both infrared and visible light sources, which enables the recording of larval behaviour, locomotor activity in response to light and dark. The MWP further allows the light source to be of white, red, green and blue, at both bright and dim levels. The experimenter can programme different exposure variables. The movement of each larva is monitored by the unit, and pre-processed data is available in real time for analysis.


Irons T.D., MacPhail R.C., Hunter D.L., Padilla S. (2010). Acute neuroactive drug exposures alter locomotor activity in larval zebrafish, Neurotoxicology and Teratology 32 84-90.

Budick S.A., O’Malley D.M. (2000). Locomotor repertoire of the larval zebrafish: swimming, turning and prey capture, The Journal of Experimental Biology 203 2565-2579.

Burgess A., Granato M.(2007). Modulation of locomotor activity in larval zebrafish during light adaptation, The Journal of Experimental Biology 210 226-2539.