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Visual acuity and contrast sensitivity of adult zebrafish

Christoph Tappeiner1, Simon Gerber1, Volker Enzmann1, Jasmin Balmer1, Anna Jazwinska2 and Markus Tschopp1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Ophthalmology, University Hospital of Bern, Inselspital, Bern, Switzerland

2 Department of Biology, University of Fribourg, Fribourg, Switzerland

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Frontiers in Zoology 2012, 9:10  doi:10.1186/1742-9994-9-10

Published: 29 May 2012



The aim of this study was to evaluate the visual acuity of adult zebrafish by assessing the optokinetic reflex. Using a modified commercially available optomotor device (OptoMotry®), virtual three-dimensional gratings of variable spatial frequency or contrast were presented to adult zebrafish. In a first experiment, visual acuity was evaluated by changing the spatial frequency at different angular velocities. Thereafter, contrast sensitivity was evaluated by changing the contrast level at different spatial frequencies.


At the different tested angular velocities (10, 15, 20, 25, and 30 d/s) and a contrast of 100%, visual acuity values ranged from 0.56 to 0.58 c/d. Contrast sensitivity measured at different spatial frequencies (0.011, 0.025, 0.5, 0.1, 0.2, 0.3, 0.4, 0.5 and 0.55 c/d) with an angular velocity of 10 d/s and 25 d/s revealed an inverted U-shaped contrast sensitivity curve. The highest mean contrast sensitivity (±SD) values of 20.49 ± 4.13 and 25.24 ± 8.89 were found for a spatial frequency of 0.05 c/d (angular velocity 10 d/s) and 0.1 c/d (angular velocity 25 d/s), respectively.


Visual acuity and contrast sensitivity measurements in adult zebrafish with the OptoMotry® device are feasible and reveal a remarkably higher VA compared to larval zebrafish and mice.

Adult zebrafish; Visual acuity; Optokinetic reflex; Optomotry