The three-spined stickleback, Gasterosteus aculeatus, is a fish native to most inland coastal waters north of 30°N. It has long been a subject of scientific study for many reasons. It shows great morphological variation throughout its range, ideal for questions about evolution and population genetics. Most populations are anadromous (they live in seawater but breed in fresh or brackish water) and very tolerant of changes in salinity, a subject of interest to physiologists. It displays elaborate breeding behavior (defending a territory, building a nest, taking care of the eggs and fry) and it can be social (living in shoals outside the breeding season) making it a popular subject of enquiry in fishethology and behavioral ecology. Its antipredator adaptations, host-parasite interactions, sensory physiology, reproductive physiology, and endocrinology have also been much studied. Facilitating these studies is the fact that the three-spined stickleback is easy to find in nature and easy to keep in aquaria.
(From Wikipedia, March 2015)