The Coastal Conservation and Restoration Laboratory at Florida International University is a state-of-the-art facility located on Biscayne Bay in Miami, FL. The lab offers indoor and outdoor facilities. Outdoor facilities are ideal for clean cultures and ecological studies. Indoor facilities are fit to maintain clean cultures and conduct ecotoxicology studies, behavioral studies, or swimming performance studies. The laboratory is uniquely equipped with saltwater, estuarine water, freshwater, and DI water.

The ecotoxicology branch of the facility has been known for years as the Ecotoxicology and Risk Assessment Laboratory. Since 1999, the laboratory has been conducting freshwater and saltwater ecotoxicity studies to meet regulatory requirements in the U.S. and internationally with organic and inorganic chemicals including metals, pesticides, industrial chemicals, pharmaceuticals/personal care products (PPCPs), effluents, petroleum and petroleum products with native, exotic and standard invertebrate and vertebrate test species.

The unique features of the laboratory include computer-automated water and sediment flow-through test systems, and specialized expertise and monitoring equipment to assess locomotor behavior and fish swimming performance following exposure at various life stages of an organism.

A detailed description of both indoor and outdoor facilities and systems is listed below. If you are a research scientist interested in requesting use of the facilities, please follow the instructions in Facilities Use Request. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact us.

Indoor facilities and systems include:

  • Aquatic Habitat Stand-Alone Systems
  • Freshwater (FW) culture system
  • Saltwater (SW) or estuarine culture system
  • Automated electric gear pump diluter systems
  • Mini diluter system
  • Sediment diluter systems
  • Stand-up incubators
  • Swimming Performance Facility
  • Behavior Facility
  • Additional equipment

Outdoor facilities and systems include static and recirculating tanks capable of accommodating freshwater, estuarine water and saltwater.



  • Front Clean Culture Facility

    Four individual Aquatic Habitat Stand-Alone Systems (Aquatic HabitatsTM AH689). Each stand-alone system consists of a rack with five shelves that has its own sump with mechanical filter tray and biofiltration media, titanium heater, water pump, air pump, mechanical canister filter, activated carbon canister filter, UV sterilizer, heat pump/chiller, in-line pH and conductivity probes, automated dosing system for dosing alkalinity/hardness maintenance solutions, programmable automated water renewal solenoid, interchangeable tanks (3L or 10L), and a programmable controller (for all onboard systems). All systems are connected to an automatic top-off valve and can be set up to automatically renew. Overflow screens with different mesh sizes are available. Ideal for small fish culture and holding.

  • Back Clean Culture Facility

    Freshwater (FW) culture system – One rack with n=2, 8'x4' recirculating water troughs to maintain water temperatures in glass aquaria (20L or 40L). System is set-up with an in-ground sump,  3/4 HP sand filter (for mechanical filtration-backwashed weekly), 2nd sump filled with biofloss for biological filtration, a UV sterilizer, and a heat/chiller pump to control temperature. System recirculates and fills automatically using float valves and automated solenoids connected to clean source waters.

    Saltwater or estuarine culture system

    Salt water (SW) or estuarine culture system – One rack with n=2, 8'x4' recirculating water troughs to maintain water temperatures in glass aquaria (20L or 40L). It is a duplicate of the FW culture system above but connected to estuarine or natural seawater sources (~30ppt).

    In either FW or SW system, a variety of glass aquaria may be placed in the water troughs with overflows directed into a separate chute on side of trough. Trough water temperature is separate from culture water.

    Freshwater culture system

  • Experimental Exposure Facility

    All exposure systems can be connected to clean fresh, estuarine, or sea water sources.

    Two automated electric gear pump diluter systems capable of delivering a user-specified dilution factor to 12 tanks (6 treatments including a control) in 10-20L glass tanks held in a temperature controlled water bath. Toxicant line may be connected to a large source of prepared oil-water mixture (WAF, CEWAF) that may be prepared in a large quantity WAF generator housed in an external shed. This system was designed specifically for all wetted parts to be PTFE or stainless steel and ideal for petroleum product exposures.

    Pump diluter system

    Mini diluter system – computer automated system that controls syringe pumps to deliver a user-defined series of dilutions of a toxicant (ideal for effluent samples or a stock toxicant solution) to small glass chambers held in a temperature-controlled water bath. This system is ideal for small organisms requiring low water volumes (less than 1L).

    Four sediment diluter systems – computer automated system that delivers at a user-defined frequency, overlaying water renewals to trays of containers holding sediment which are held in a temperature controlled water bath. Ideal for prepared sediment or field-collected sediment samples with sediment dwelling organisms.

    Sediment diluter system

    Six stand-up incubators – plant incubators with programmable controls for lighting and temperature cycling. Ideal for temperature and lighting control for static testing in smaller containers.

    Stand-up incubators

  • Swimming Performance Facility

    Five swimming performance systems:

    • 2x Small capacity (5L)
    • 1x Medium capacity (10L)
    • 1x Large capacity (30L)
    • 1x X-Large capacity (90L)

    Each system is a stand-alone respirometer tunnel used for physiology, energetics, behavior, biomechanics and kinematics of swimming fish. All are computer controlled flow chambers that control flow velocity and record temperature and O2 parameters. Remote viewing provided by cameras and HD monitors.

    Swimming performance facility

    Swimming performance chamber

  • Behavior Facility

    Adult fish studies — One 40 gal tank (24" x 51" x 8") that fits in a larger trough to regulate and maintain temperature. Camera mounted above chamber for tracking organisms. Observation tank surrounded by black-out curtain.

    Behavior facility tank

    Larval fish studies — DanioVision, self-contained exposure and tracking chamber designed to hold well-plates. Ideal for small organisms or embryonic or larval fish.


    EthoVisionXT (Noldus) – Video tracking software connected to both systems designed to tracks and analyzes the behavior, movement, and activity of any animal. A cost-effective solution for all standard behavioral tests such as the Morris water maze and open field testing. High-throughput and high-content testing. Suitable for sophisticated test-protocols.

  • Additional Facilities Equipment and Space
    • Zeiss Stemi 2000-C Stereo Microscope with an AxioCam ERc5s camera (4 each)
    • Zeiss Standard 25 Light Microscope (5x, 10x, 40x, 100x objectives)
    • Olympus Inverted Fluorescence microscope (IX71 Series)
    • Thermo Scientific accuSpin Micro 17R Refrigerated Microcentrifuge with 24-tube fixed rotor
    • Thermo Scientific Sorvall Legend RT Plus Centrifuge with various size rotors
    • New Brunswick Innova 44 Incubator Shaker
    • Beckman Coulter Multisizer 4 Particle Counter
    • Ohaus Standard Balance (Explorer E1F110)
    • Mettler Toledo Analytical Balance (AG135)
    • YSI meters: DO (4 each) and salinity–conductivity–temperature (5 each)
    • pH meters (6 each)
    • Light boxes for organism observations (2 each)
    • Stir plates (one with light, three that are also heat plates) (9 each)
    • Oven
    • Desiccator
    • Fume hood
    • Benchtop stations, desks, and computers


Our facilities include an outdoor tank area with several recirculating and static aquatic systems. These systems are located next to the boat ramp and dock and are equipped with several salt water, estuarine, and freshwater systems with access to 58 tanks. Salt water is supplied from two dedicated salt water wells, and freshwater is supplied by the city (city water). The estuarine water is supplied by an automated system that mixes salt water and freshwater to the salinity of interest (see designated areas below for details on water access).

Areas A and B are freshwater, estuarine and saltwater systems: Freshwater, estuarine water and saltwater is available.

Areas C and D are saltwater systems: Water source is seawater from an adjacent salt water well.

Map of outdoor fish tank areas A through D. The areas are laid out next to one another, with Area D closest to the boat ramp. A and B are for saltwater, estuarine or freshwater systems; C and D accommodate saltwater only.

  • Area A

    Area A comprises several tanks that have mechanical, chemical, and biological filtration.

    • Two sets of two 820-gal circular recirculating tanks
    • Three 175-gal shallow rectangular recirculating tanks ideal for coral studies
    • Three 100-gal circular recirculating tanks
    • Three 75-gal circular recirculating tanks
    • Two 600-gal circular static tanks

    Coral tanks
    Coral tanks

    75-gallon tanks
    75-gallon tanks

    100-gallon tanks
    100-gallon tanks

  • Area B

    Area B comprises tanks that are ideal for studies where sunlight is essential. Tanks need to be filled and emptied manually. Mechanical, chemical, and biological filtration is not available.

    • Twenty-four 1000-gal circular static tanks (fiberglass tanks partly embedded in cement to better control temperature)
    • Twenty-four 230-gal circular static tanks (plastic tanks that can be relocated throughout the facility as needed)

    Area B tanks

  • Area C

    Area C comprises three 10,656-gallon circular tanks. The area is covered to block sunlight.

    Area C tanks

  • Area D

    Area D comprises twelve 780-gal unfiltered circular tanks covered and restricted by a fence and awning to minimize wildlife entry.

    Area D tanks