Vera LM, de Alba G, Santos S, Szewczyk TM, Mackenzie SA, Sánchez-Vázquez FJ & Rey-Planellas S (2023) Circadian rhythm of preferred temperature in fish: Behavioural thermoregulation linked to daily photocycles in zebrafish and Nile tilapia. Journal of Thermal Biology, 113, Art. No.: 103544. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jtherbio.2023.103544
Ectothermic vertebrates, e.g. fish, maintain their body temperature within a specific physiological range mainly through behavioural thermoregulation. Here, we characterise the presence of daily rhythms of thermal preference in two phylogenetically distant and well-studied fish species: the zebrafish (Danio rerio), an experimental model, and the Nile tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus), an aquaculture species. We created a non-continuous temperature gradient using multichambered tanks according to the natural environmental range for each species. Each species was allowed to freely choose their preferred temperature during the 24h cycle over a long-term period. Both species displayed strikingly consistent temporal daily rhythms of thermal preference with higher temperatures being selected during the second half of the light phase and lower temperatures at the end of the dark phase, with mean acrophases at Zeitgeber Time (ZT) 5.37 h (zebrafish) and ZT 12.5 h (tilapia). Interestingly, when moved to the experimental tank, only tilapia displayed consistent preference for higher temperatures and took longer time to establish the thermal rhythms. Our findings highlight the importance of integrating both light-driven daily rhythm and thermal choice to refine our understanding of fish biology and improve the management and welfare of the diversity of fish species used in research and food production.
Zebrafish; Nile Tilapia; Temperature preference; Daily rhythms; Thermal ecology; Stress induced hyperthermia
Journal of Thermal Biology: Volume 113