Zebrafish Core Facility

Zebrafish Core Facility (ZCF) at IIMCB was established as a base for fishing targets and medicines (FishMed) – a coordination and support actions project which is financed by the 7th Framework Program of the European Union within the Research Potential scheme but we invite new internal and external projects and collaborations.

The opening of the Zebrafish Core Facility took place on November 15th 2012. The state-of-the-art facility includes a water plant, as well as a stand-alone quarantine unit and the main system manufactured by Tecniplast. Currently, in 944 aquaria 16510 fish from 100 different zebrafish lines are being kept. More tanks and fish lines will be introduced in the near future. Beside the aquaria room, which is a restricted area, our Zebrafish Core Facility has a laboratory space fully equipped for standard fish work and available to all users. Alongside incubators, microscopes and injectors, the laboratory is also equipped with a needle puller and beveller, suited for production of capillary needles for injection of zebrafish, Drosophila and other organisms.



The Zebrafish Core Facility (ZCF) is a licensed breeding and research facility (PL14656251 – registry of the District Veterinary Inspectorate in Warsaw; 064 and 051 – registry of the Ministry of Science and Higher Education) that is entitled to produce and use zebrafish (Danio rerio) for research and educational purposes. ZCF is also registered in the Zebrafish Model Organism Database (ZFIN), the main international zebrafish database, and at the European Society for Fish Models in Biology and Medicine (EuFishBioMed), a European network that is devoted to fostering the exchange of information, techniques, materials, and expertise within and beyond the fish community. ZCF is entitled to keep wildtype and genetically modified lines (licenses no. 04-24/2015, GMO: 01-105/2013 – decision 1/2014 and GMO: 01-101/2012 - decision 164/2012). All of the research and breeding activities at ZCF are carried out in compliance with fundamental ethical principles and in compliance with ACT of 15 January 2015 on the protection of animals that are used for scientific or educational purposes and European and international guidelines on animal welfare, including Directive 2010/63/EU on the protection of animals that are used for scientific purposes and the guidelines and recommendations of the Federation of European Laboratory Animal Science Associations (FELASA).

Protection of animals used for scientific or educational purposes

Ustawa o ochronie zwierząt wykorzystywanych do celów naukowych lub edukacyjnych

Ustawa o zmianie ustawy o organizmach genetycznie zmodyfikowanych oraz niektórych innych ustaw

Rozporządzenie w sprawie szkoleń, praktyk i staży dla osób wykonujących czynności związane z wykorzystywaniem zwierzątdo celów naukowych lub edukacyjnych


Definition of service:
ZCF offers a range of services including: breeding (pair crosses and group), feeding and maintenance of a limited number of wild-type, mutant and transgenic lines, rearing of fry, genotyping/phenotyping of lines, sourcing of lines, helping with experimental design, providing technical support and laboratory space dedicated to the zebrafish work. ZCF provides fully trained personnel to maintain the facility as well as to teach and support the users.

Service provided:
Where possible, the facility shall provide sufficient number of eggs/adult fish for all individuals using the facility with priority given to the IIMCB employees and  PhD students. The facility will endeavor to provide all the available lines needed by the users as far as possible. If the line is not in stock, the facility will endeavor to source the line from another facility or stock center. At present, the facility offers a few tanks in the housing system for the external users. The reservations will be handled on a first-come, first-served basis.

Terms and Conditions/Fees:
The cost of fish material (embryos) for external users is charged as well as the maintaining the fish in the housing systems. Use of the equipment needed for a specific project is free of charge. For full details please see the Terms and conditions of use by External Entities of resources of the Zebrafish Core Facility at the International Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology in Warsaw (IIMCB).



About the fish:
Zebrafish (Danio rerio) is a fish of the Cyprinidae (carp) family living in slow-moving or stagnant waters of India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh and Burma. The adults reach up to 5cm in length and live for five years. Zebrafish are easy to maintain tropical fish with short generation time (approximately 3-4 months). This species has been described already in 1822 by Hamilton but the history of zebrafish as a laboratory animal starts from 1970’s when George Streisinger from the University of Oregon introduced it as a simple vertebrate model organism with great potential for biological studies. External fertilization, translucent body, large mutant/transgenic collection and availability of various genetic tools make zebrafish an excellent organism to study multiple aspects of human diseases. Although fish look very different form humans they share many similarities. Both, man and fish share many genes and develop similar metabolic, skeletal, infectious and neurological diseases.


We have an isolated culture of zebrafish (Danio rerio) which undergoes veterinary inspection on weekly bases. Water quality is assessed on daily bases and maintained at: pH 7.0, 600µS, temp 28°C with 15% water change. Photoperiod is set to 14h light and 10h darkness. Fish are kept in schools with maximal density up to 5 fish per liter of water and fed 4 times a day (diet composes of different dry feeds and artemia).



Principles for more ethical use of animals in testing impose replacement, reduction and refinement for animals used for experimentation. From the perspective of "3R" zebrafish can be used to replace the so-called higher vertebrates (e.g. mice, rats) with an organism at lower level of evolution. Most of the experiments are performed on embryos or larvae in which the nervous system is not fully developed and which are not classified as protected animal yet. Characteristics of zebrafish (size, growth) and the availability of transgenic lines allow for long-term (up to a few days) and simultaneous studies in the same organism (e.g., parallel observations of the behavior of macrophages, neutrophils and tumor cells). This approach helps to reduce the number of animals that are needed to carry out experiments. In addition, the possibility of adding the test substances directly into the water in which the fish are kept eliminates the need of making injection and simplifies procedures. Although zebrafish genome is about half size of the human one, 90% of human genes have their equivalent in fish and mutations in the homologous genes lead to similar phenotypes. Using zebrafish as a model for the study of human diseases seems to be the most reasonable approach. High similarity in genotype/phenotype was used for establishing models of various diseases e.g. tuberculosis or skeletal dysplasia. Zebrafish also contributed toward finding new drugs for e.g. leukemia or melanoma.


If you have any questions concerning the welfare of animals used in experiments at IIMCB or if you notice any cases of irregularities related to the use of animals in procedures – please contact dobrostan@iimcb.gov.pl


Lidia Wolińska-Nizioł

Head of the Zebrafish Core Facility