"CAL-AQUA" - Course on Laboratory Animals Sciences - Aquatic organisms

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General information

The CAL-AQUA course is for researchers, master and doctoral students and research fellows and technicians who need to acquire training in Laboratory Animals Sciences, more specifically on the use of aquatic species as experimental models. Students attending higher education in science courses, for example, Biology, Veterinary, Medicine, Pharmacy or similar, wishing to choose for scientific research involving animal experimentation may also submit their application. The course includes theorectical and pratical lectures including animal manipulation.

This is an Expert Training course for MARES Doctoral students. Attending the course successfully will allow the student to require for a “Research” or “Research Technician” certification to perform animal experimentation.

Keywords: fish, amphibians, cephalopods, aquatic species, laboratory animals, Zebrafish, Laboratory animal sciences


UNIT 1: Legislation, Ethics and 3 R’s

a. Legislation on protection of animals used in experiments  and/or with other scientific goal
i. National legislation vs. European legislatino
ii. National legislation
1. Main guidelines
2. Project / experiments approval
3. Personal accreditation
4. Facilities licensing

b. Ethics, 3 R’s (replacement, reduction and refinement) and scientific integrity
i. Responsible attitude towards the use of animals
ii. 3 R’s principle: Replacement, Reduction and Refinement 
iii. Scientific return versus invasive procedures
iv. Scientific return and biology and animal health considerations
v. Scientific return and experimental design

c. Alternative methods
i. Alternative methods
ii. Complementary methods

UNIT 2: Aquatic Organisms as Experimental Models

a. History and fundamentals on animal experimentation

b. Fish biology and anatomy
i. Evolution and anatomic characteristics of nowadays living beings
ii. Basic anatomical characters from vertebrate and their groups
iii. The anatomophysiology and behaviour of captivity animals

c. Amphibians biology and anatomy
i. Amphibian biology
ii. Amphibians in animal experimentation
iii. Obtain amphibians for animal experimentation
iv. Amphibians identification and marking
v. Housing
vi. Reproduction in captivity
vii. Most common diseases

d. Cephalopods biology and anatomy
i. Ecology and life cycle
ii. Anatomical and behavioural characteristics

e. Ethology and environmental enrichment with aquatic organisms
i. Ethology
ii. The importance of environmental enrichment
iii. Animal welfare according to maintenance conditions

UNIT 3: Maintenance and handling of aquatic organisms

a. Recirculating aquatic systems (RAS)
i. Different types of RAS
ii. Elements of RAS (Life Support Systems)
iii. Basic maintenance tasks
iv. Relevance in experimentation with aquatic species

b. Physical-chemical parameters in life support systems
i. Temperature
ii. Conductivity / Salinity
iii. pH / Redox potential
iv. Dissolved oxygen
v. Nitrogen compounds
vi. Other chemical compounds

c. Most relevant aquatic species nutrition
i. Nutritional requirements
ii. Feeding types
iii. Feeding methods

d. Register, monitoring and transport of aquatic organisms
i. Planning
ii. Transport
iii. Quarantine
iv. Register
v. Monitoring

e. Handling and basic techniques (invertebrates, amphibians and fish)
i. Capture methods
ii. Sampling techniques
1. Register of biometric parameters
2. Blood collection
iii. Marking

UNIT 4: Pathologies and surgery basic principles in aquatic organisms

a. Importance of histology in pathologies diagnosis
b. Diagnosis of pathologies with parasitic etiology
c. Diagnosis of pathologies with virus and bacterial etiology
d. Regulation of international commerce of aquatic animals and derivate products 
e. Anaesthesia, analgesia and surgery basic principles in fish and cephalopods

i. Methods of anaesthesia
ii. Induction, maintenance and recovery from anaesthesia
iii. Adapting basic techniques principles of asepsis to aquatic environment 
iv. Pre-surgery care
v. Post-surgery care – Analgesia
vi. Most common surgical procedures
vii. Euthanasia

UNIT 5: Biosafety in Animal Facilities

a. Biosafety in Animal Facilities
i. Zoonosis and dangerous pathogens
ii. Physical, Chemical and Biological risks for staff
iii. Precautions and protection of animals
iv. Precaution and protection of personnel
v. Treatment and disposal of waste and public health legislation
vi. Emergencies procedures


UNIT 1 – Animal Facility Routines
a. Basic care while working in animal facilities
b. Assembling and maintenance of recirculating aquatic systems (RAS) 
c. Measurement of physical-chemical parameters in RAS
d. Feeding and behaviour habits of the animals
e. Guide visit to Biotério de Organismos Aquáticos (CIIMAR)

UNIT 2 – Handling of aquatic organisms (fish, amphibians and invertebrates)
a. Care in handling aquatic organisms 
b. Capture methods
c. Marking techniques
d. Biometrics
e. Blood and other body fluids collection
f. Analysis of fish haematological profile 
g. Zebrafish reproduction

UNIT 3: Aquatic organisms necropsy
a. Anesthesia
b. Euthanasia
c. External and internal anatomy
d. Collection of different tissues with several objectives

UNIT 4: small surgery in fish
a. Anesthesia
b. Anesthesia induction, maintenance (with a proper system) and recovery
c. Training sutures in inert material
d. Small surgery/laparotomy simulation
e. Necropsy of the used animals and some remarks on pathology

UNIT 5: Experimental Design
a. Experimental design
b. Power, statistical significance and biological relevance
c. Types of experiments
d. Confounding and bias
e. Experimental units (replication, randomisation)
f. Size of the experiment
g. Types of experimental design

Contact Person: Hugo Gabriel Santos (hsantos@ciimar.up.pt)


The highlighted icons, represent the fields of education (in compliance with ISCED Classification) engaged during this course/programme.


Venue: CIIMAR - Interdisciplinary Centre for Marine and Environmental Research
Porto, Portugal

Rua dos Bragas, n.289 
4050-123 Porto



CIIMAR and UP Community: 275€
Other: 375€

The costs cover the fee for the course, the coffee-breaks and didactic material.

Application Procedure:

Information needed for enrolment:

  • Candidate complete name
  • Institution name and address
  • Qualification (Degree, Master, PhD)
  • Candidate E-mail
  • Receipt information (name and address)
  • Resumed CV

Enrolment Deadline: 21 April 2015


Academic level: PhD

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