Zebrafish swimming in the flow: A particle image velocimetry study

Violet Mwaffo, Peng Zhang, Sebastián Romero Cruz, Maurizio Porfiri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Zebrafish is emerging as a species of choice for the study of a number of biomechanics problems, including balance development, schooling, and neuromuscular transmission. The precise quantification of the flow physics around swimming zebrafish is critical toward a mechanistic understanding of the complex swimming style of this fresh-water species. Although previous studies have elucidated the vortical structures in the wake of zebrafish swimming in placid water, the flow physics of zebrafish swimming against a water current remains unexplored. In an effort to illuminate zebrafish swimming in a dynamic environment reminiscent of its natural habitat, we experimentally investigated the locomotion and hydrodynamics of a single zebrafish swimming in a miniature water tunnel using particle image velocimetry. Our results on zebrafish locomotion detail the role of flow speed on tail beat undulations, heading direction, and swimming speed. Our findings on zebrafish hydrodynamics offer a precise quantification of vortex shedding during zebrafish swimming and demonstrate that locomotory patterns play a central role on the flow physics. This knowledge may help clarify the evolutionary advantage of burst and cruise swimming movements in zebrafish.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere4041
Issue number11
StatePublished - 2017


  • Flow physics
  • PIV
  • Strouhal number
  • Swimming
  • Vortex
  • Zebrafish

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


Dive into the research topics of 'Zebrafish swimming in the flow: A particle image velocimetry study'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this