A pet goldfish named George is recovering “swimmingly well” – pardon the pun – after emergency surgery to remove a life-threatening head tumour, an Australian animal hospital has announced.
Veterinarian Tristan Rich said the 10-year-old goldfish was unable to eat or swim properly and was starting to “really suffer”, which led the vet to the decision to operate.
George is the much beloved pet of a yet to be identified woman who has reportedly become “quite attached” to her fishy friend.
“I gave then owner the option of trying to take [the tumour] off, or putting him to sleep,” Rich explained to reporters.
The goldfish was ingeniously sedated in a bucket of water laced with anaesthetic – it took three buckets in total to sedate George, one to put him to sleep, one to keep him asleep during the procedure and one filled with oxygenated water to revive him post-op . Rich then used a gelatine sponge to control any bleeding during the tricky piscatorial procedure, which lasted for 45 minutes in total.
“It’s a very fiddly procedure, and you have to be very careful about blood loss,” Rich, of the Lort Smith Animal Hospital in southern city of Melbourne, told Australian media. “As you can imagine with an 80-gram fish, and you’ve got to make sure you can control any blood loss. He can only lose about half a mil.”
George’s wound was sealed with tissue glue and he was given injections of antibiotics and painkillers.
The surgery cost about $200, which is roughly the same amount a dog or cat owner would pay and Dr Rich said the anaesthetic cost the same, no matter the species.
“It can be a few hundred dollars, and mostly it’s charged for the standard anaesthetic, also depending on the time it takes. The actual procedure is quick and straightforward,” he said.
He is expected to live another 20 years. “George is now doing great; he spent a few days in the tank, and is now swimming happily in the pond,” said Rich.
The veterinarian told reporters that, in his experience, operations on goldfish were uncommon. He has only performed similar surgery 10 times in his career so far.
Rich added that, “from goldfish to budgie”, veterinarians valued the bonds between humans and animals and did not discriminate between the species when trying to save lives.