Fish at the aquarium were exploiting his disability to steal food and harassed the poor creature – until vets stepped in to help.
This copper rockfish lives in the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre’s Strait of Georgia exhibit. At first glance, this fish may not seem out of the ordinary. However, the ageing fish does look a little different, after undergoing eye surgery to remove cataracts.
Vets in Vancouver carried out the first-of-its-kind surgery at an aquarium to stop the fish being attacked by others.
Like other animals, rockfishes often encounter some health issues as they age, and this particular fish was found to have developed cataracts in its left eye, according to the aquarium’s head veterinarian, Dr Martin Haulena.
The fish’s damaged eye was replaced with a taxidermy eye for cosmetic reasons, as well as in a bid to keep it alive in an environment where competition is freakin’ fierce.
This is because, without an eye, other fish in the tank would have acted aggressively towards, or ‘bullied’ the partially blind fish, assuming it of being sick and weak. While the cosmetic surgery may keep the creature alive for further years, it is now partially sighted and at a disadvantage to its completely healthy peers.
Dr Haulena, and Seattle Aquarium’s head vet, Dr Lesanna Lahner, fitted the new eye to the bone above the fish’s eye socket by sewing it on with nylon sutures, and attaching it with titanium clips. The fish was anesthetized for the procedure.
Before the prosthetic, he was being hurt and quite uncomfortable because he was picked on. It’s a well-known thing that there is natural aggression as different species kind of vie for the best space and habitat they’re in, so that kind of aggression is very very normal,” said Vancouver Aquarium head veterinarian Dr Martin Haulena.
Now the fish is happier, despite having only one functioning eye.
He’s more robust,” said Dr. Haulena.