What is a fish veterinarian? 3 Things to Know About Getting Amazing Care for Your Fish

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Ever wanted to know more about fish veterinarians? Here’s everything you need to know!

Yes, fish veterinarians are legitimate veterinarians

Veterinary training is immense. You are expected to learn everything you can about dogs, cats, horses, pig, sheep, goats and cows, and then some of us decide to add in over 30,000 fish species. No, we don’t know every single one, but you can expect we know a lot about a few. Our Chief Veterinarian, Dr. Jessie Sanders, specializes in pet fish, so 99% of our practice is koi, goldfish and bettas.

Fish veterinarian Dr. Jessie Sanders on her graduation day from Tufts University Cummings school of veterinary medicine
Dr. Sanders on her graduation day from Tufts University Veterinary School

The basics of fish medicine still holds no matter what species you are working with, but normal values, such as appearance, diet and water chemistry can vary. We have amazing aquatic veterinary associations that can help us reach other fish veterinarians to find help with a particular species or individual we are unfamiliar with. As with all veterinarians, we have to take continuing education programs regularly to stay up to date on various disease processes and available treatment techniques. These credits are required to maintain our licensing.

Fish veterinarians work to make fish healthy and stay that way. There are many subspecialties in fish veterinary medicine including aquaculture production, zebrafish research, maintaining collections for zoos and aquariums, and teaching at undergraduate and veterinary schools. You can explore all the different career options for fish and aquatic veterinarians through our free Careers in Aquatic Veterinary Medicine program.

Fish Veterinary Specialties

In addition to their veterinary degree, many fish veterinarians will add on specialty training. This may include externships, internships, residencies, certificates and even board specializations. If your veterinarian doesn’t have any of these, that does not disqualify them from working with fish! Likely, they do not see many fish patients and do not want to invest the money and effort into a specialized certification. Learn more about Certified Aquatic Veterinarians versus Board-Specialized Fish Veterinarians.

How is an “aquatic veterinarian” different from a “fish veterinarian?”

Most of the time, “aquatic veterinarian” and “fish veterinarian” are interchangeable. However, there are more than just fish in the water! You have aquatic veterinarians specializing in invertebrates, echinoderms, or even marine mammals. Aquatic veterinarians may work at aquariums or zoos, private practice or teach at universities or institutions.

How do I find a fish veterinarian near me?

To find a fish veterinarian near you, we recommend visiting one of the following resources:

American Association of Fish Veterinarians – Find a Fish Vet

World Aquatic Veterinary Medical Association – Find a Fish Vet

If you cannot find a fish veterinarian in your area, check out your entire state. Since veterinary licenses are designated by state, if there is someone licensed in your area, they will be the best fit. If you have a vet that does not specialize in fish but wants to help, they can contact our office and set up a veterinary consultation and we will walk them through everything they need to know. Learn more about finding a fish veterinarian near you.

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