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Many questions come to mind when you think about a veterinarian for fish. How do you perform a exam? Do you have to perform treatments underwater? The list is endless with questions. One question I would like to answer at least is how I perform my exams.

The services I offer include: sedated physical exam and skin scrape, fin clip, and gill clip.

Sedated physical exam: Sedation is performed by a medication called MS-222. Sedation allows me to perform a hands on exam and perform baseline diagnostics. This video is by Dr. Richmond Loh a fish veterinarian from Australia.

Check out is YouTube channel The Fish Doctor:


While sedated I can take a closer look at the fish and perform skin/fin/gill clips to check for any external parasites. I use a microscope to evaluate the samples that are obtained.

Skin scrape: I gently use a cover slip and slide it over the body of the fish (from head to tail).

Marine Ich (Cryptocaryon irritans) found on a stars and stripes puffer fish

Dactylogyrus monogenean found on a Koi

Fin clip: I clip a small portion of any of the fins.

Multiple dactylogyrus monogeneans found on a fin clip of a Koi

Gill clip: I clip a small portion of the end part of the gills.

Marine Ich (Cryptocaryon irritans) found in the gill filaments of a stars and stripes puffer fish

Blood clots noted in the gill filaments

After performing the sedated examination and skin/fin/gill clip we can hopefully make a diagnosis or obtain enough information to perform further diagnostics and start initial treatment. These findings are coupled with the initial history, husbandry, and water quality findings. A history is a very important aspect of the exam and I will send a questionnaire for you to fill out prior to the hands on exam.

I hope this has given you more insight to what I can do as a fish veterinarian. If you have any questions or comments please feel free to email me.


Dr. Martinez

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