Pain management in zebrafish: Report from a FELASA Working Group

Lynne U. Sneddon, Paul Schroeder, Ana Roque, Karin Finger-Baier, Angeleen Fleming, Simon Tinman, Bertrand Collet

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Empirical evidence suggests fishes meet the criteria for experiencing pain beyond a reasonable doubt and zebrafish are being increasingly used in studies of pain and nociception. Zebrafish are adopted across a wide range of experimental fields and their use is growing particularly in biomedical studies. Many laboratory procedures in zebrafish involve tissue damage and this may give rise to pain. Therefore, this FELASA Working Group reviewed the evidence for pain in zebrafish, the indicators used to assess pain and the impact of a range of drugs with pain-relieving properties. We report that there are several behavioural indicators that can be used to determine pain, including reduced activity, space use and distance travelled. Pain-relieving drugs prevent these responses, and we highlight the dose and administration route. To minimise or avoid pain, several refinements are suggested for common laboratory procedures. Finally, practical suggestions are made for the management and alleviation of pain in laboratory zebrafish, including recommendations for analgesia. Pain management is an important refinement in experimental animal use and so our report has the potential to improve zebrafish welfare during and after invasive procedures in laboratories across the globe.

Original languageEnglish
JournalLaboratory Animals
Early online date5 Dec 2023
StatePublished - Jun 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2023.


  • Anaesthesia
  • analgesia
  • ethics and welfare
  • fish
  • laboratory animal welfare
  • organisms and models
  • pain measurement


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