The Mission

While the effects of stress on the mammalian brain are under thorough investigation, only a few researchers have explored how stress affects the brain of teleosts. Being the center of an elaborate nervous system, the fish brain is likely to be influenced by current and past stress and may also alter the perception of future stressors.

Many stimuli which fish in aquaculture encounter are processed by the brain, making the latter the place where most stressors first affect the fish irrespective of their quality and quantity. A better understanding of this primary stress response will lead to deeper insights in how stress influences fish and how negative effects on the fish might be lessened while positive ones may be utilized. Thus, the current investigations focus on the effects of different stressors on a variety of fish species. Additional projects are conducted in parallel aiming at improving the rearing conditions for fish in aquaculture.

Current Research Projects

We are currently running a broad variety of projects that are all related to fish and fish welfare.

  • improving the life quality and welfare of laboratory animals and farmed fish in Switzerland
  • tool and assay development for the monitoring of fish welfare in aquaculture
  •  development of automated video monitoring for assessing fish health
  • fostering the development of less invasive methods for fish welfare assessment
  • improving nutrition and sustainability in commercial fish farms
  • investigating the toxic effects of feed-borne mycotoxins on fish

If you are interested in more details or would like to discuss new project ideas, please contact me: constanze.pietsch@bfh.ch

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Who is managing the projects?

Hi, I am Constanze Pietsch. I always have been interested in biological sciences and therefore chose to study biology already with a strong emphasis on limnology and ecotoxicology. During my time as a PhD student at the Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries in Berlin, Germany, I studied the connections and interactions of the endocrine system and the immune system in common carp. Subsequently, I worked as a PostDoc at the University Basel focusing on fundamental research on fish ecotoxicology, and as a group leader of the Fish Welfare Group at the Zurich University of Applied Sciences. Since 2020, my research activities have been moved to the School of Agricultural, Forest and Food Sciences (HAFL) at the University of Applied Sciences (BFH) in Zollikofen. My work always aimed at revealing the fundamental principles that underlie evolved stress responses and toxicological effects in different fish species. Consequently, my research  activities include studying a wide range of biological endpoints including immunological and metabolic processes in fish.

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