CCAC guidelines on the care and use of fish in research are, of course, relevant and important to abide by.  For that reason, we have incorporated the titles of guidelines.

Guideline 1:

Fishes used in research, teaching, and testing must be treated with the respect accorded to other vertebrate species.

p. 14 


Guideline 2:

Projects involving the use of fishes for research, teaching, or testing should be described within a protocol. Protocols should be approved by an animal care committee prior to the commencement of the work.

Section 4.1 Responsibilities of investigators, p. 15

Guideline 3:

Before working with fishes, investigators, technical staff, and post-graduate students must be properly trained and have their competency evaluated.

Section 4.1 Responsibilities of investigators, p. 16

Guideline 4:

Investigators are responsible for, and must comply with, occupational health and safety regulations regarding the protection of personnel from known or suspected physical and biological hazards.

Section 4.1 Responsibilities of investigators, p. 16

Guideline 5:

Investigators should be aware of the potential risks associated with zoonotic agents present in fishes.

Section 4.1 Responsibilities of investigators, p. 16

Government Regulations and Policies on the Use of Fish

Guideline 6:

Anyone acquiring or transporting fishes, or conducting research on fishes, must be familiar with, and comply with, relevant international, federal and provincial/territorial legislation and policies governing the capture of fishes and/or their transfer from one water body or jurisdiction to another.

Aquatic Facilities

Guideline 7:

Aquatic facilities are complex systems that must be well designed to minimize stress to the fishes, promote efficient operation of the facility, and ensure a safe working environment for personnel.

p. 21

Guideline 8:

If fresh or sea water is drawn from an open body of water or a municipal source, it should be tested for and treated to remove contaminants and pathogens.

p. 21

Guideline 9:

In designing and constructing aquatic facilities, assistance should be sought from people with experience in this field.

p. 22 

Guideline 10:

Construction materials for facilities housing fishes should be selected carefully for resistance to corrosion and water damage.

Section 3.1 Structural materials, p. 23

Guideline 11:

Materials in aquatic facilities which are potentially toxic to fishes should be reduced to the minimum. Any toxic material should be listed, and the list must be available to staff.

Section 3.1 Structural materials, p. 24 

Guideline 12:

Air handling systems should be engineered to ensure that aquatic areas are well ventilated and humidity is controlled and to ensure that aerosol transfer between tanks and through the facility is minimized.

Section 3.2 Room ventilation and airflow in aquatic areas,

p. 24

Guideline 13:

All electrical systems must be professionally installed to appropriate code standards (federal, provincial/territorial and municipal building codes) for operation in moist environments, and must include proper grounding and ground fault interrupters on all circuits. Extension cords should be avoided, and electrical wires should be fixed safely, away from water and from personnel circulation areas.

Section 3.3 Mechanical and electrical requirements, p. 25

Guideline 14:

Electrical components and equipment should be located outside the splash zone and should be housed in moisture-proof enclosures. Electrical fixtures should be secured with gaskets to prevent the incursion of water and should be located above pipe runs.

Section 3.3 Mechanical and electrical requirements, p. 25 

Guideline 15:

Machinery that produces noise and vibration should be isolated from areas housing fish.

Section 3.3 Mechanical and electrical requirements, p. 25

Guideline 16:

Light should be phased on and off and should incorporate wavelengths and intensities appropriate for the species where this is known. Where task lighting is needed for people working in the room, it should be restricted in its dispersion throughout the room or be placed at a lower level than the tank surface.

Section 3.4 Lighting, p. 25

Guideline 17:

All aquatic facilities should have an emergency contingency capacity, capable of maintaining aerated and filtered water and assuring the continuation of life support.

Section 3.5 Redundancy in aquatic life support systems, p. 26

Guideline 18:

Critical systems, including pumps, should be duplicated to ensure that failures cause only minimal interruptions in service.

Section 3.5 Redundancy in aquatic life support systems, p. 26

Guideline 19:

An adequate water supply of suitable quality should be provided for the fish at all times.

p. 27 

Guideline 20:

Aquatic environments should be designed to meet the established physical and behavioural requirements of the fishes in terms of shelter, social grouping, overhead cover, and lighting.

Section 5.1 Fish well-being, p. 28

Guideline 21:

The shape, colour, depth, and volume of tanks should be appropriate for the species and life stage being held.

Section 5.2 Tank/enclosure design, p. 28

Guideline 22:

Tanks should have smooth, inert, sealed interior surfaces.

Section 5.2 Tank/enclosure design, p. 29

Guideline 23:

Tanks should be self-cleaning, or adequate means for the regular cleaning of tanks should be incorporated into the design.

Section 5.2 Tank/enclosure design, p. 29

Guideline 24:

Tanks should be equipped with a covering that prevents fishes from jumping from the tank, e.g., tank nets or rigid coverings.

Section 5.2 Tank/enclosure design, p. 29

Guideline 25:

Access to fish facilities should be designed to minimize traffic through the area. Access should be restricted to the personnel required for maintenance of the facility and the care of the fishes, and those using the facilities for experiments or teaching.

p. 31

Guideline 26:

All architectural and engineering specifications and drawings of the facility should be available to those in charge of running the facility, as should all operating manuals for special equipment such as pumps, chillers and computer control systems.

p. 31

Guideline 27:

Aquatic facilities must have written maintenance schedules developed specifically for the facility.

p. 31

Guideline 28:

Facilities should be kept in a clean and orderly manner. Tanks should be disinfected before and after every experiment.

p. 31 

Guideline 29:

The staff responsible for operating an aquatic facility should have the specialized knowledge, experience and training for proper function, operation, and maintenance of the water system.

p. 31

Guideline 30:

Sufficient numbers of staff must be available for animal care and facility management and maintenance 365 days a year for both routine and emergency needs.

p. 31 

Guideline 31:

An environmental monitoring system is essential for aquatic facilities and should be designed to suit the water management system.

p. 32

Guideline 32:

Water quality monitoring systems should be able to detect and react to changes in water quality before they become life-threatening to animals housed in the system.

p. 32

Guideline 33:

Water quality parameters should be monitored at an appropriate frequency for the facility and should allow predictive management of water quality, rather than only reactive management of crises in water quality.

p. 32 

Guideline 34:

Good water quality measuring equipment should be available, regularly calibrated and well maintained. Records of water quality should be maintained and should be retrievable for retrospective analysis in the event of problems.

p. 33

Guideline 35:

Water quality must be monitored and maintained within acceptable parameters for the species being held.

Section 3.1 Management of water quality, p. 33

Guideline 36:

Fishes should not be subjected to rapid changes in temperature, particularly to rapid increases in temperature.

Section 3.2 Temperature, p. 33

Guideline 37:

Fishes should be kept in water with an adequate concentration of oxygen.

Section 3.3 Oxygen, p. 34

Guideline 38:

Aquatic systems are susceptible to acute or chronic supersaturation. Individuals responsible for operating aquatic systems should understand the causes of gas supersaturation and how to mitigate potential problems.

Section 3.4 Supersaturation, p. 34 

Guideline 39

Water pH should be maintained at a stable and optimal level as changes in pH may influence other water quality parameters.

Section 3.5 pH, p. 35

Guideline 40:

Free ammonia and nitrite are toxic to fishes and their accumulation must be avoided.

Section 3.6 Nitrogen compounds, p. 35

Guideline 41:

Salinity changes are inherently stressful for fishes and should be conducted slowly and with attention to the physical status of the fishes.

Section 3.8 Salinity, p. 36

Guideline 45:

Where exotic fishes are obtained from aquarium suppliers or collection sources, local, provincial/ territorial and federal authorities should be consulted to determine the risk of escape, accidental introduction, exotic diseases and other detrimental outcomes, and how to minimize these risks.

p. 38

Guideline 48:

After transport and before use in experiments, fishes should be acclimated to laboratory conditions during a period of quarantine and acclimation.

p. 40 

Guideline 49:

As far as possible, fish from various sources should not be mixed.

p. 40

Guideline 50:

Quarantine areas should be subject to extra vigilance in monitoring fish and good record keeping to detect and respond to any health problems in quarantined fish.

Section 6.1 Quarantine, p. 40

Guideline 52:

Quarantine areas should be managed according to rigorous infectious agent control practices.  

Section 6.1 Quarantine, p. 41

Guideline 59:

Feed should be stored in dedicated areas that are dark, temperature and humidity controlled and pest-free to ensure its nutritional quality. Feed for immediate use and feed in feeders should be similarly protected. Feed used for daily feeding should be kept in sealed-top containers to protect it from humidity and light, and frequently replaced with feed from storage.  

Section 3.3 Feed quality and storage, p. 43

Guideline 63:

Holding systems and environmental conditions for brood stock should be appropriate for the species. Particular attention should be paid to the importance of environmental cues for the maintenance (or manipulation) of endogenous reproductive rhythms.


Guideline 65:

All facilities must have a fish health monitoring program.


Guideline 77:

Restraint and handling of fishes should be carried out in a manner to minimize visual stimulation. Where feasible, fishes should be protected from direct light and rapid changes in lighting while being restrained.  

p. 51

Guideline 106:

Depending on the study and the time of morbidity, monitoring should be done at least daily. Frequency of monitoring should allow for the timely removal of fish before severe morbidity occurs. Frequency of monitoring should be increased where mortality is expected to be high.