Effects of fluoxetine on the swimming and behavioural responses of the Arabian killifish

Michael J. Barry*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

84 Citations (Scopus)


The selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor fluoxetine has frequently been detected in surface waters around the world. Fluoxetine modulates levels of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that regulates several important physiological and behavioural processes including fear and anxiety, aggression, locomotion and feeding. In this study, groups of sub-adult Arabian killifish (Aphanius dispar) were exposed to either 0, 0.03, 0.3 or 3 μg/L fluoxetine hydrochloride for 7 days and their swimming behaviour and social interactions videotaped in a circular arena. The fish were subsequently exposed to a predator alarm chemical (from dragonfly larvae fed with A. dispar) and their short-term responses recorded. The video was analysed using the open-sourced software program Ctrax which objectively quantified swimming and social behaviours. Aggression (chasing behaviour was significantly reduced at 3.0 μg/L fluoxetine. After the addition of the predator alarm chemicals fish responded quickly, increasing the percentage of time spent drifting or motionless and reducing average swimming velocity. Controls and fish exposed to 0.03 or 3 μg/L fluoxetine reduced swimming speed by 20-30 % but returned to pre-exposure velocities within 6 min. Fish exposed to 0.3 μg/L fluoxetine reduced swimming speed by 38 % after addition of the predator alarm and did not return to pre-exposure speeds during the recording period (19 min). Schooling behaviour was also affected by fluoxetine and predator alarm with fish exposed to 0.3 μg/L fluoxetine significantly reducing nearest neighbour distance and swimming speed relative to nearest neighbour the following addition of the predator alarm.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)425-432
Number of pages8
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2013


  • Ctrax
  • Escape response
  • Fish behaviour
  • Fluoxetine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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