The mouse forced swim test

Adem Can, David T. Dao, Michal Arad, Chantelle E. Terrillion, Sean C. Piantadosi, Todd D. Gould

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

139 Scopus citations


The forced swim test is a rodent behavioral test used for evaluation of antidepressant drugs, antidepressant efficacy of new compounds, and experimental manipulations that are aimed at rendering or preventing depressive-like states. Mice are placed in an inescapable transparent tank that is filled with water and their escape related mobility behavior is measured. The forced swim test is straightforward to conduct reliably and it requires minimal specialized equipment. Successful implementation of the forced swim test requires adherence to certain procedural details and minimization of unwarranted stress to the mice. In the protocol description and the accompanying video, we explain how to conduct the mouse version of this test with emphasis on potential pitfalls that may be detrimental to interpretation of results and how to avoid them. Additionally, we explain how the behaviors manifested in the test are assessed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere3638
Pages (from-to)1-5
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Visualized Experiments
Issue number59
StatePublished - 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Animal models
  • Antidepressant
  • Behavioral analysis
  • Depression
  • FST
  • Forced swimming test
  • Issue 59
  • Mood disorder
  • Mood stabilizer
  • Neurobiology
  • Neuroscience

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience
  • General Chemical Engineering
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Immunology and Microbiology


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