What about fish? Pond and aquarium fish may need veterinary care, too!

By: Dr. Gary Hoover, DVM
Fairgrounds Animal Hospital

Dr. Gary Hoover is a Veterinarian at Fairgrounds Animal Hospital. He has a B.S. in Fisheries & Aquatic Science and DVM from Purdue University.

Did you know? Fishkeeping is the second most common hobby in the United States.

Fish are a very popular pet!! Fishkeeping is the second most common hobby in the United States, behind gardening. Millions of American homes have aquariums large and small, from tiny “goldfish” bowls to massive coral reef tanks. Ponds are very common, too, with large backyard landscapes including a water feature and beautiful koi.  All of these animals can become part of the family just like our dogs and cats, and, just like our dogs and cats, sometimes they can get sick. Veterinary care is often overlooked, but just ask the catfish producers in the Mississippi Delta or the salmon farmers in the Pacific northwest – veterinarians are important friends to have to keep your fish healthy! Pond and aquarium fish will require different care and treatments than food, but both can and should be seen by veterinarians when they get sick.

Veterinary Care for fish necessary, but often overlooked!!

How do you know if and when veterinary care is necessary ?

Many problems with ponds or aquaria are related to water quality, so monitoring water chemistry is always an important part of fishkeeping.

So what sorts of things should we look for with our pet fish, as signs that they may need veterinary care? Erratic swimming, worn fins, discolored skin or scales, and gasping at the water surface are all common signs of disease. Skin parasites are very common, and they may be visible as little white spots all over the body. Sometimes these are itchy and they will “flash,” where they rub their side or belly on a rock or plant very quickly – that’s when the light catches the silvery-white underside of your pet and you see a quick flash of light. Gulping air at the surface is something that some fish, including koi and goldfish but also some aquarium fish like cory cats, normally do occasionally. But if a fish is hanging out at the top of the water and gulping continuously, that’s often an important sign that they’re having trouble breathing.

Many problems with fish in ponds or aquaria are related to water quality, so monitoring water chemistry is always an important part of fishkeeping. In cases of sick fish, checking water quality is essential, so always bring a sample of water from their pond or tank if you bring your fish to see the veterinarian. For ponds, it may be better for your veterinarian to visit the pond; make sure to call and see if a home visit (house call) is best. If bringing a fish in to the clinic, try to take down as much information about your setup as possible, including the overall size of the tank, the filter size and type (including water flow rating in gallons per hour), type of substrate, other fish or organisms in the tank, type of food(s), and water change schedule. Armed with this information, the veterinarian can work toward a diagnosis and help you achieve the best health for your wet pets! If you have an aquarium or pond with fish you think may need to be seen, feel free to call us at (775) 329-4106. Happy fishkeeping!

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posted in:  Fish  |  Pet Health