Does my fish need a veterinarian?
As an aquatic veterinarian of course my answer is YES. All of our fish/aquatics pets deserve the same amount of attention and care that we give to our land dwelling species. Common questions that I get from people include:
Do you need to do the exam under the water?
No you do not need to perform the exam under the water, though I do have my wet suit handy (used for triathlons only). The way that I perform examinations are under sedation. Usually in a container tank side or pond side that enables to me to handle the fish, perform a physical exam, and perform further diagnostics if indicated.
Can you perform surgery on fish?
Yes! You need to be a little creative but you can make a recirculating surgery table that will keep the fish sedate during the procedure.
How do you treat or give medications to fish?
You can treat fish very similarly to our domestic species. They can receive injections either intramuscular (IM), intracoelomic (ICe), and intravenously (IV). You can administer medication orally either via gel diets or medicated feeds. One unique method that is specific to aquatic species is immersion bathes either for a few hours to several weeks.
How do you handle the fish?
As mentioned under the “do you examine them under water” sedation is the best way to decrease stress and handle the fish. While handling you are able to perform a physical exam, perform initial diagnostics: skin scrape, fin clip, gill clip, draw blood, perform ultrasound, radiographs, minor/major procedures, etc.
There are many other questions but these are some of the most common ones. Though as you can see from the answers there is a lot that fish/aquatic veterinarians can offer to your aquatic pets.
Robert Martinez, DVM, CertAqV