Diseases of Fish, Fish Euthanasia and the Physiology credit test (Day 212)

Aqua Sed fish Anaesthetic and Euthanasia

Today’s Diary Entry is sponsored by Best Ever Pet Hair Remover

Today is my favourite day of the week, and I wanted to take the time to talk about the role that a vet plays in fish medicine, and something that I feel is important – the euthanasia of sick fish. Fish is a major food group for humans, and the production also is of economic importance. In addition to this with fish being commonly kept as pets it is important that someone can treat them and this responsibility as with other animals lies with vets. Training here we started Diseases of Fish in our second semester; this I believe is because fish anatomy is different to everything else and so we do not need to have completed our three semesters of anatomy first.

With such a large number of fish species, and anatomical differences between the species its almost like a separate module to general veterinary education. We’ve covered taxonomy, environment, aquaculture (farming systems), anatomy, clinical diagnosis and are now looking at diseases. I’ve always had a fascination with fish ever since I read about fish surgery for the first time, its honestly pretty amazing. Instead of a gas or injectable anaesthetic a water soluble anaesthetic is used with the fish placed in it until it becomes unconscious, this liquid then is pumped through the gills for the duration of the surgery to maintain anaesthesia. After this the fish is then placed into clean water to recover from the anaesthetic.

Euthanizing sick fish

Something I wanted to talk about briefly is the euthanasia of sick or ill fish. When a fish gets sick it can be very obvious that something is wrong, whilst some people are aware that vets do treat fish many are not and so try to do the best they can to relieve the suffering. It is commonly proven that fish are intelligent and can feel pain and distress (read Boiled alive, crabs, lobsters and the ability to feel pain) and so when thinking about stopping the suffering of a dead fish its important to do so pain free. Generally the best way to do this is by giving an overdose of anaesthetic such as Aqua Sed below. This is available under the veterinary medicine small animal exemption scheme so anyone can buy it, and in fact I would recommend any pet shop selling fish, fish hobbies, and vet surgery to have a bottle or two in stock to use. Most people with pet fish in the home will most likely not come across this until it is a matter of relieving suffering, and so will not have this ready to use. In this case the best solution is for hard blunt trauma to the head with a heavy rod, it seems medieval I know, however during discussions last week major trauma causes immediate cessation of brain activity. People sometimes suggest suffocation by taking the fish out of water (really painful!!!) or freezing (which causes intense pain when cells crystallise and burst). So again, the best way to euthanize fish is anaesthetic overdose (maybe your pet shop/vet can do this for you) or blunt trauma to the head and brain.

Aqua Sed fish Anaesthetic and Euthanasia
Fish can be given Aqua Sed from Vetark as an overdose to allow painless euthanasia

This afternoon I did my physiology credit test which I did manage to study for a couple of hours last night. Today I ended up with a C as I did miss a couple of points from further reading which I would usually have managed to do. However it is another exam off my list giving me extra free time to start studying for my finals!

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