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Aquatic Ecology and Ecotoxicology Laboratory

The Aquatic Ecology and Ecotoxicology Laboratory (EL-1) at Florida International University (FIU) is a state-of-the-art facility located on Biscayne Bay in Miami, FL. It 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 ecotoxicology 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.


Facility Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs)

Below are links to various facility-specific SOPs. In addition, all research scientists will need to provide their project-specific SOPs (for details, see 'Facilities Use Request' section below).

Facilities Use Request

The first step to request use of any of the indoor and/or outdoor aquatic facilities in the ecology and ecotoxicology laboratory is to submit a project proposal. This proposal should outline the project title, project start and expected end dates, project summary (including the background, rationale, objective, methods and expected results), which facility and system(s) you want to use, how many tanks you need, other equipment needed, funding source (if any), organisms involved (vertebrates will also require IACUC approval), as well as any special needs. In addition to the proposal, a copy of your Standard Operating Procedures needs to be submitted.

If you are a student, together with the proposal and SOP, you must also submit a letter from your major adviser stating that s/he has reviewed your proposal and supports the project.

Please, submit the required documents via emailed to the Review Committee at Once the proposal is submitted, the committee will review it for approval. Experiments will need to be approved prior to starting any work. Submit your proposal at least two weeks before the expected start date of the project; for specific questions about this process, contact Piero Gardinali. After your proposal has been approved, remember to submit a copy of the approved IACUC protocol to the committee ( and post a copy of your IACUC by the location of your project if the studies include vertebrates.

Technical questions about the facilities can be directed to Piero Gardinali for indoor systems and Bill Chamberlain for outdoor systems. If this the first time you are requesting use of facilities, contact Piero Gardinali.

Finally, for the duration of your project, each day at the end of your work, you are required to clean the workspace thoroughly (wash dishes, return any items to their storage location, put away hoses, buckets, nets, etc.). In addition, after the completion of the proposed study, you are must clean the project area and used systems, tanks, and equipment thoroughly; not adhering to these rules can result in losing access to facilities.

Important: Facility resources to conduct the research of interest will be available on a first come, first served basis. Therefore, as this is a shared facility, timeline flexibility, if grants allow, will be important.

Contact Us

Piero R. Gardinali, Ph.D.
Director, Southeast Environmental Research Center
Associate Director, Institute of Water and Environment
Professor, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry
Florida International University
Biscayne Bay Campus, MSB 356
3000 NE 151st St, Miami, FL 33181
Phone: 305-919-6060 (BBC), 305-348-6354 (MMC)

A researcher examines an indoor tank. Fish are seen swimming in another tank in the foreground.