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Guide for the Care and use of Laboratory Animals: Eighth Edition
Behavior and Social Management
Visual evaluations of aquatic and semiaquatic animals are typically used for monitoring. To avoid damage to the protective mucus layers of the skin and negative effects on immune function (De Veer et al. 2007; Subramanian et al. 2007; Tsutsui et al. 2005), handling of these species should be kept to the minimum required (Bly et al. 1997). Appropriate handling techniques vary widely depending on the species, age/size, holding system, and specific research need (Fisher 2000; Matthews et al. 2002; Overstreet et al. 2000); they should be identified at the facility or individual protocol level.
Latex gloves have been associated with toxicity in some amphibians (Gutleb et al. 2001). The use of appropriate nets by well-trained personnel can reduce skin damage and thus stress. Nets should be cleaned and disinfected appropriately when used in different systems and should be dedicated to animals of similar health status whenever possible.
Exercise and activity levels for aquatic species are minimally described but informed decisions may be extrapolated from studies of behavior of the same or similar species in the wild (Spence et al. 2008). Some aquatic species do not rest and constantly swim; others may rest all or a significant portion of the day. Water flow rates and the provision of hides or terrestrial resting platforms (e.g., for some reptiles and amphibians) need to be appropriate for species and life stage.
Food The general principles relating to feeding of terrestrial animals are applicable to aquatic animals. Food should be stored in a type-appropriate manner to preserve nutritional content, minimize contamination, and prevent entry of pests. Food delivery methods should ensure that all animals are able to access food for a sufficient period of time while minimizing feeding aggression and nutrient loss. Feeding methods and frequency vary widely depending on the species, age/size of species, and type of life support system. Many aquatic or semiaquatic species are not provided with food ad libitum in the tank, and in some cases may not be fed daily.
Commercial diets (e.g., pellets, flakes) are available for certain species and storage time should be based on manufacturer recommendations or follow commonly accepted practices. In aquatic systems, particularly in fish rearing or when maintaining some amphibian and reptile species, the use of live foods (e.g., Artemia sp. larva, crickets, or mealworm beetle larvae) is common. Live food sources need to be maintained and managed to ensure a