Ethanol consumption is a worldwide problem. Sensitivity to acute effects of ethanol
influences the development of chronic ethanol abuse and ethanol dependence.
Environmental and genetic factors have been found to contribute to differential effects
of acute ethanol. Animal models have been employed to investigate these factors. An
increasingly frequently utilized animal model in ethanol research is the zebrafish. A
large proportion of ethanol studies with zebrafish have been conducted with adult
zebrafish. However, high throughput drug and mutation screens are particularly well
adapted to larval zebrafish. These studies are often carried out using the 96-well-plate
that allows monitoring large numbers of fish efficiently. Here, we investigate the effects
of acute (30 min long) ethanol exposure in 8-day post-fertilization (dpf) old zebrafish.
We compare four genetically distinct populations (strains) of zebrafish, measuring
numerous parameters of their swim path in two well sizes, i.e., in the 96-well-plate
(small volume wells) and in the 6-well-plate (large volume wells). In general, we found
that the highest dose of ethanol (1% vol/vol) reduced swim speed, increased duration
of immobility, increased turn angle, and increased intra-individual variance of turn
angle, while the intermediate dose (0.5%) had a less strong effect, compared to
control. However, we also found that these ethanol effects were strain dependent and,
in general, were better detected in the larger volume well. We conclude that larval
zebrafish are appropriate for quantification of acute ethanol effects and also for the
analysis of environmental and genetic factors that influence these effects. We also
speculate that using larger wells will likely increase sensitivity of detection and
precision in screening applications.