We don't use foot baths or dedicated shoes for our facility. Our fish
facility is in a larger hallway that contains other animal care rooms,
but our rooms are separate. There are sticky mats when you enter the
main hallway, but I am not sure these help with anything to be honest.
Our policy is that if a fish hits the floor, it has to be euthanized. We
ask everyone coming into the facility to wash their hands when the enter
(soap without Triclosan) and when they leave. We also have Purell for
anyone feeling the need.
In general, our policy to help keep down contamination is that no new
fish enter our system. They must all come from bleached eggs or they go
into the Q-room. We don't take equipment in or out of the facility and
definitely don't mix between the Qroom and the main facility. We have
an incubator specifically for embryos from our Q-Room. Anything in that
incubator cannot go back into the main facility. We also use commercial
shrimp eggs and food for our dry mixes that is free of pathogens.
Nothing from a pet store is fed to or added to our system.
But to be honest, I think the main things we do that keep our facility
disease free is keep everything as clean as possible (tanks, floors, and
equipment) and make sure fish that are 2+ years old or fish that start
to look unhealthy are removed from the facility promptly. It is the
Logan's Run approach to fish health, but it has worked so far. (Knock on
Many of the practices that make sense for a rodent facility either
aren't useful or are down right dangerous in a fish facility. The IACUC
here is very reasonable, but I had to write a long letter explaining
why certain practices don't make sense for us.
For example, they were asking why we don't wear gloves, gowns, masks and
booties. I asked if their concern was for the animals or for the people
working with the animals. They were very frank and told me they only
care about the health and well-being of the animals.
So I explained that my job is to care for both. Booties are a slip
hazard and dangerous to my workers. Gowns and gloves can be accidently
dragged into fish tanks or set up cages which can contaminate them. In
the end, since we aren't concerned with passing things back and forth
between the fish and the students, all the gowning does is make the
students uncomfortable, hotter than they should be with the temperature,
and can actually contaminate the fish tanks. Likewise we had to argue
that we would prefer to see some rust as opposed to having paint
aerosolize near our precious fish!
You have to do what is the most comfortable for your system and setups,
but we also need to help educate IACUCs around the world about what is
necessary for fish, and what is not. Otherwise we may be paying
technicians to entertain our fish and provide "stimulating environments"
before you know it.
Just my 2 cents worth.
Rebecca D. Burdine, Ph.D.
Dept. of Molecular Biology
Washington Road Mof 433
Princeton, NJ 08544