A detailed clinical history of your fish and notes on management of the tank or pond will be made during a consultation. A fish anaesthetic may be used to carry out a thorough physical examination and take samples from the skin and gills for examination under a microscope. Suitable treatment options will also be discussed.
Home visits are often the only way to fully inspect the fish’s environment and identify if any external problems may be affecting its health. The filter system performs a vital function and will be examined thoroughly. Unfortunately, visits may not always be practical because of time or distance.
WATER QUALITY TESTS
The water in which fish live has a direct impact on their health. Water quality is a measure of how good or bad the environment is at supporting life. It is important to regularly measure levels of ammonia, nitrite, nitrate and pH. Other parameters may need to be tested, depending on the species kept.
Not all parasites are visible to the naked eye so samples are taken from the skin and gills for examination under a microscope. These must be taken carefully so as not to injure the fish and must be examined as soon as practical. Microscopic external parasites, fungi and occasionally some bacteria are often found on sick fish.
Some fish problems are complex and require specialist laboratory tests to identify the nature of the disease. Samples from all the major organs must be taken carefully and preserved so that the fish pathologist can interpret the tissue changes accurately and identify potential underlying causes.
Taking X-rays of fish under an anaesthetic is an important part of investigating internal diseases such as buoyancy disorders and fish with a swollen belly. The anaesthetised fish is gently removed from the water briefly for the X-ray to be taken, so that clear digital images are obtained for best interpretation.
Polycystic kidney disease commonly affects goldfish causing their kidneys to swell enormously and develop large cysts. This is easily diagnosed using an ultrasound scanner and is performed with the fish in water, although a sedative may be required to calm the fish. It is also useful for examining some unusual diseases inside their eyes.
Some fish diseases require a surgical approach under anaesthesia, such as cases where a tumour needs to be removed or wounds dressed and treated. Eyes are commonly injured or develop tumours and may also need surgical removal. A laparotomy or internal investigation may occasionally need to be carried out.
POST MORTEM EXAMINATIONS
Sadly, some fish are too ill when first seen and may even be found having died suddenly. A post-mortem examination can often reveal the cause of death but, it is essential that this is performed within an hour of death. In some cases, it is necessary to sacrifice a sick fish for examination for the benefit of the others.
I have experience in providing assistance in litigation and insurance disputes. I am also familiar with animal welfare legislation and have provided advice to various professional organisations.
Health care advice can be provided to aquatic businesses such as breeders, importers, wholesalers, retailers and garden centres. This may involve site visits, sampling of batches, investigating health problems and basic staff training in routine disease monitoring to satisfy pet shop licence requirements.