"Discovering FishSim in 3 days - new software for computer-animated 3D fish stimuli for innovative research in animal behavior"

Date:         October, 20th - 22nd 2017

Place:       University of Siegen,
                  Hölderlinstr. 3, 57076 Siegen,


Participants:     10

Language:         English

Costs:                 50 € (Students), 70 € (Postdocs and senior researchers); additional costs for travel                                    and accommodation

Prerequisites:   Good computer skills are beneficial.

           Friday, 30th June 2017

of attendance:
  Saturday, 15th July 2017


Organizing team:

Dipl.-Biol. Stefanie Gierszewski (Institute of Biology, University of Siegen)

Prof. Dr. Klaudia Witte (Institute of Biology, University of Siegen)

Dipl.-Inform. Klaus Müller (Institute of Real-Time Learning Systems, University of Siegen)

B.Sc. Jan-Marco Hütwohl (Institute of Real-Time Learning Systems, University of Siegen)


Scientists are continuously looking for new methods to improve experimental procedures and to pave new ways to study animal behavior. Nowadays, more and more scientists tend to use various forms of computer animations that assist in research and lead to higher control and standardization during experiments. Computer animations offer various opportunities for specific manipulation of morphology and behavior of a virtually created animal stimulus in a range not possible with live stimulus animals. Furthermore, computer animations serve to implement the 3Rs principle in research by replacing and reducing the use of experimental animals and by refining experimental procedures. Currently, researchers can choose from a conglomeration of software solutions to create and animate 2D and 3D virtual stimuli. Nevertheless, easy-to-use toolchains that are designed for the specific needs of behavioral biologists and that combine all necessary steps, from creation of the stimulus to its presentation, do nearly not exist (but see anyFish;

Within the scope of the DFG funded Virtual Fish Project at University of Siegen (Germany), we developed the free and open-source FishSim Animation Toolchain” (FishSim) which combines easy creation, animation and presentation of realistic 3D computer-animated fish stimuli for the use in experiments with live test fish (Müller et al. 2016, Gierszewski et al. 2016).

FishSim was specifically designed for behavioral experiments using common one-choice and two-choice set-ups, as in studies on visual signaling and mate choice. FishSim provides various possibilities to experimentally manipulate morphology and behavior of any number of virtual 3D fish with presentation via monitors. Since FishSim is based on a computer game engine, it offers a unique way for animating 3D fish via real-time input from an external video-game controller.

We aim to distribute FishSim world-wide to give researchers access to our software and to inspire new ways in research. Therefore, FishSim will be freely accessible to researchers in the near future (date for software release not yet confirmed).

To introduce FishSim and to assist in the implementation of our toolchain, we are happy to announce an international workshop for behavioral biologists to give a detailed user instruction for the toolchain FishSim Basic.

Learning objectives of the FishSim Basic Workshop:

Detailed functionality of the free and open-source FishSim Basic and its integrated tools FishCreator, FishSteering and FishPlayer in both theory and practice. DOs and DON’Ts for implementation of FishSim Basic in future research. Working computers with all software installed will be provided but it is also possible to use personal laptops. Assistance and advice for working with own data will be given.

Find more information about FishSim Basic here



Müller K, Smielik I, Hütwohl JM, Gierszewski S, Witte K, Kuhnert KD (2016) The virtual lover: variable and easily guided 3D fish animations as an innovative tool in mate-choice experiments with sailfin mollies - I. Design and implementation. Current Zoology 63 (1): 55-64 .

Gierszewski S, Müller K, Smielik I, Hütwohl JM, Kuhnert KD, Witte K (2016) The virtual lover: variable and easily guided 3D fish animations as an innovative tool in mate-choice experiments with sailfin mollies – II. Validation.  Current Zoology 63 (1): 65-74. DOI:

© 2017 by Stefanie Gierszewski
Virtual Fish Project, University of Siegen, Siegen, Germany

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