Difficult Fish Veterinary Cases

On-Location Pond Check

Did you know our veterinary hospital takes in calls for fish veterinary cases from all over the country? Although our veterinarian is only licensed in California and Nevada, we work with dozens of other veterinarians to make sure your fish can get the help they deserve. Most of the time, our calls are straightforward and simple, but other times, they can be very difficult. What are our all time cringe-worthiest stories?

Top Five Difficult Fish Veterinary Cases

5. “My bass has a piece of salami stuck in its throat.”

‘Am I being punked?’ was my first thought. Second, it’s a pet bass, not a wild one. And third, why is he eating salami? Bass are more carnivorous, and probably don’t have to worry about heart failure, true. Thankfully, fish can’t asphyxiate from food stuck in their esophagus or mouth. The operculum can still pump water through the gills regardless of what’s going on in the mouth. The fish did manage to spit out the large salami.

4. “My betta lives in a bowl, has no heater and I do 100% water changes. Now he’s sick.”

I can hear my hospital manager’s head hitting the desk right now. This is one of the most common calls we get, which is why we have a dedicated webpage and webinar. By keeping your betta in a stagnant bowl with no heater, I guarantee it will get sick. Yes, bettas have adapted to taking in oxygen through their specialized labyrinth organ, but this is not a long-term survival option. When the rains wash out in their natural habitat, this adaptation allows them to survive in tiny puddles until the water comes back. We cure almost 100% of our surrendered bettas by putting them in a warm tank with a filter.

3. “So, this just happened: my fish was attacked about 3 months ago. He stopped eating a week ago.”

If your fish is sick, do not hesitate to get help! We are happy to talk you through situations on the phone before proceeding with veterinary care. Our hospital staff is expertly trained to talk clients through all sorts of fish health issues, even if the veterinarian is off helping someone else.

2. “I read on the internet that _______ can be treated with ________ drug. Can I come pick some up?”

Yeah… no. Veterinarians cannot prescribe any medications to any client without establishing a valid Veterinarian-Client-Patient Relationship. Here in California, it requires a yearly exam to keep this valid. And of course, if it was on the internet, it must be true. There is some great fish info available on the free interweb, but there is considerably more terrible information. If you have questions about therapy for diseases or possible diagnoses, talk to your veterinarian first. Yes, we charge money. But you’ll end up paying more to fix for your experiments. By using a professional the first time, you will save time, money and LIVES.

1. “I just put a new fish in a few days ago, now they’re all acting funny.”

Quarantine. Quarantine. QUARANTINE. I’ll never stop saying it. Fish transmit diseases to their tank/pondmates exponentially faster than any terrestrial pet. Why is this? Because a lot of diseases can be spread through the WATER. Fish swimming around in a tank or pond will bump into each other, transmitting pathogens with direct contact. We have lost dozens of koi this year to Koi Herpesvirus (KHV) because owners do not quarantine. A “reputable dealer” is no guarantee. Protect the lives of your pets. QUARANTINE! Still not convinced? Watch this webinar.

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