Prozac impacts lateralization of aggression in male Siamese fighting fish

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Previous studies have shown that Siamese fighting fish, Betta splendens, preferentially use right-eye during the aggressive displays. However, administration of antidepressant drugs may disrupt eye-use preference in association with a reduction in aggression; a phenomena that has not been explored in fish. The objective of the current study was to examine the effects of exposure to the antidepressant drug, fluoxetine, on lateralization in eye-use during aggressive displays in male Siamese fighting fish. Baseline aggression and lateralization in eye use of thirty fish were assessed toward live conspecifics, following which experimental subjects (n=15) were then exposed to fluoxetine (540 ng/L) in a static renewal water system. Behavior was quantified again after 9 days of exposure. All of the subjects preferentially used the right-eye during aggressive responses before the exposure experiments. Fluoxetine exposed subjects showed a reduction in the time spent gill flaring as has previously been reported, indicative of a reduction in the level of aggression. Fluoxetine also had a significant effect on the lateralization in preferred eye-use while looking at their opponent. Fish exposed to fluoxetine switched from a preferential use of the right-eye during aggressive encounters prior to exposure to using their left-eye after exposure to fluoxetine. The results are discussed with regard to asymmetrical distribution of serotonin between the two brain hemispheres.