Martineau & Associates, Inc., of Menlo Park, CA Receives $2M NIMH SBIR Grant to Advance Its Novel CanaryTank™ Behavior Tracking Husbandry System Toward Commercialization

July 11, 2023

Martineau & Associates, Inc. is to commercialize CanaryTank™, its novel continuous video monitoring analysis system of zebrafish (Danio rerio) behavior in fish facilities. By providing 24/7 fish health and wellbeing monitoring, CanaryTank will enable fish facility managers to provide the next level of care while saving time and money, and will have a major impact on the quality and reproducibility of medical research.

This Phase II $2M 2-year grant, awarded by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), will fund the needed developments to make CanaryTank market ready. It is the continuation of a Phase I $550,000 grant awarded in July 2021 by the NIH Office of Research Infrastructure Programs (ORIP).

It is estimated that over one million tanks are maintained worldwide today to host zebrafish, a crucially important and ubiquitous animal model used in practically all domains of medical research. Despite their crucial role, these fish are maintained in facilities that lack adequate 24/7 health and well being monitoring tools. By leveraging its patented Remanent Imaging Control technology, Martineau & Associates has developed the CanaryTank continuous video analysis system to monitor fish behavior as a readout of fish health and well being. Easily deployed in any fish facility, CanaryTank is well positioned to have a major impact on the quality and reproducibility of medical research.

A typical zebrafish facility maintains two thousand tanks on average. CanaryTank utilizes the same patented, foundational technology, Remanent Imaging Control, that powers Martineau & Associates’ patented MagnaTank™ larval behavior monitoring platform.  The technology has been adapted to the deeper zebrafish adult tanks in a way that does not interfere with the normal flow of activity in the busy and challenging context of aquatic facilities. Tanks are illuminated horizontally (darkfield illumination) with infrared light and recorded using back to back, long exposure frames (Remanent Imaging). Fish literally draw their own trajectories on the black background of the images, making processing of individual or stacks of images possible with algorithms that process the corresponding trajectories geometrically, as if they were static. This reduces processing needs and data footprint, enabling real time processing of continuous, 24/7 recordings, a capability out of reach for any other existing technology.

The patent-pending CanaryTank system combines a number of innovations to capture 3D imagery with a single camera and alleviate the various obstacles that make video recording fish a significant challenge.

Martineau & Associates will be working with the Zebrafish International Resource Center (ZIRC) of Eugene, OR, to field test CanaryTank and receive critical feedback. ZIRC is the organization recognized worldwide as setting health and husbandry standards for zebrafish facilities. This cooperation will allow Martineau & Associates to fine-tune CanaryTank and bring to market a product tested and vetted by ZIRC.

“With 24/7 behavioral monitoring of sentinel populations, CanaryTank fills a crucial gap in zebrafish husbandry”, says Zoltan Varga Ph.D., Director of ZIRC. “The current CanaryTank prototype already delivers invaluable monitoring reports and reveals a wealth of important behavioral insights never before observed in zebrafish. We look forward to working with Martineau & Associates to develop and test current and future versions of CanaryTank. We believe CanaryTank will provide a robust solution to enable zebrafish facilities worldwide to respond to potential problems in water quality, animal health, or husbandry in a much more timely manner than before, thereby elevating animal welfare standards to unprecedented, yet much needed, levels.”

Martineau & Associates will partner with leading providers of fish facilities to install and maintain the CanaryTank hardware and will provide its monitoring service as part of its WatchYourFish™ service portfolio. Fish facility managers and Principal Investigators will receive alerts of incidents requiring prompt attention and regular email reports on fish behavior and have access to an online dashboard to explore and replay events and revisit historical data. Martineau & Associates anticipates that CanaryTank capabilities will become the new standard in fish husbandry.

About Martineau & Associates, Inc.

Martineau & Associates designs novel computer vision instruments to advance knowledge of the living world and the understanding of complex animal behavior. Over the past decade, the company has focused on zebrafish (Danio rerio), the fastest growing animal model in neuroscience research.

For more information visit, or contact Pierre Martineau, Ph.D., 650-326-5030.