A Whopper of a Fish Story….or….You Won’t Believe How Your Local Vet Cures our Scaly Friends


Have you ever wondered what happens when a fish requires surgery?  After all, our finned cousins would asphyxiate if placed on the operating table, outside of their natural watery environment, for any length of time.  Furthermore, it would be impossible to even hold, let alone operate on, our slimy, wriggling patient in its own aqueous surroundings.


New Jersey Fish Vet, Dr. Paul Sedlacek, the owner of Animal Clinic of Morris Plains (ACMP), is not Koi about sharing his incredible fish surgery technique.  For starters, an operating tank, purpose-built for fish surgery, is filled with water.  Next, the piscean patient is placed in the tank.  A sedative is slowly added to the water until the fish becomes docile.

Fish Sedation Tank
Fish Sedation Tank

Once the fish is sedated, it is removed from the lower tank section of the apparatus and placed on a platform that is covered by a sponge.  Two re circulating pumps pull water out of the lower section (containing the sedative).  One is connected to a hose that goes into the fish’s muoth which pushes the treated water over the gills.  This keeps the patient oxygenated as well as sedated. 


Fish Sedation Tank
Fish Sedation Tank Motors

The other hose is directed back and forth over the top of the patient, keeping him wet during the procedure.  The excess water runs back into the lower reservoir for continued use.  Once the procedure is complete the top sponge/platform is moved to the top of a tank containing untreated water.  The same re-circulating system now pushes fresh water through and over the fish resulting in the patient slowly waking from anesthesia. 

Once the patient begins to move, it is removed from the surgery apparatus and placed in a tank or tub and  manually moved thru the water by hand.  This ensures that water is continuing to move over the gills.  If the pet were just placed back into the tank before it were able to swim, it would suffocate.  In short order, the fish begins to swim on its own and recovery is complete.


Fish Surgery
Fish Sedation Platform

Two of the most common reasons for surgery are 1) extraction of an ingested object such as a stone or 2) removal of tumors.Do fish even feel pain and therefore are these well-intentioned, humanitarian measures necessary?  The scientific evidence shows that fish do indeed feel pain  And what owner would want to inflict pain on a cherished pet? 

In fact, fish and humans are both Chordates, or animals with backbones, so it?s not surprising that they share our aversion to pain & injury.  Furthermore, some experts believe our distant ancestors went through a “fish-like” stage some 450 million years ago, during the Paleozoic Era (but we never went through a “dog-like” or “cat-like” stage).  Could this account for our facination with fish?

For more information, contact:

Animal Clinic of Morris Plains, Tel: (973) 366 3223, 3009 Route 10, Morris Plains, NJ 07950, animalclinicofmorrisplains.com, ashley@animalclinicofmorrisplains.com