Tag Archives: fish first aid

Fish CPR: Saving Your Finned Friends


In honor of April, National Pet First Aid Month, we will be featuring interesting articles related to our animal friends and their well being and safety.

Maybe you won a goldfish in a fair game when you were a kid, kept it in a small bowl in your room until it flipped over to it’s untimely death, and you said goodbye as you watched it round the toilet bowl. Or maybe now you own a giant tank in your apartment, water temperature and PH balanced perfected, filled with an assortment of beautiful tropical fish. Either way, we’ve all had at least a small connection with fish, no matter how fleeting  According to a 2013 study, there are 1.2 million fish tanks in the United States alone.1

Fish tend to be the relatively quieter, cheaper option for most Americans over cats and dogs – so they buy their kid a pretty beta fish and simply watch it swim peacefully through the waters. Some fish owners are not so lax about their beloved, finned friends!

In 2005, “fish surgery” gained a short spotlight in Dr. Greg Lewbart, who ran the worlds first aquatic medicine residency program at North Carolina State University! To prep the fish for surgery, a constant stream of water and anesthesia via a plastic tube is inserted into the fishes mouth. It is then placed onto the operating table to undergo one of the many procedures offered: laser surgery, tumor removal, or even lost eye replacement.

These fish surgeries are not cheap. They can cost anywhere between a few hundred dollars, to a few thousand2 according to PBS journalist Rebecca Skloot. Now, there are more than 2,000 fish veterinarians in America.

If fish surgery seems extreme to you, don’t worry – just know how to keep your fish happy and healthy, and you won’t have to rush your fish to the vet anytime soon. Fish have a remarkable will to live, and have been known to almost “come back to life!”

A modified version of CPR can be performed on your fish. If you can see they are losing color, swimming sideways, or acting abnormally, you simply need to “push” oxygenated water through the gills. You can accomplish this by “swimming” your fish through the water yourself or holding him under waterfall.3

Your fish may not “pop” back to life, especially if he has been out of water for an extended period of time. Serious fish owners should invest in steroids, such as Dexamethasone (generally available at local pet stores), to spray on fish that may have leaped out of the tank and weakened.

Fish are quickly becoming more than a mere decoration in our homes, and we must learn how to properly care for all the animals we choose to adopt! Have you ever had to perform CPR or first aid on your fish friend?

1  (January 8. 2013) http://www.marketresearch.com/Packaged-Facts-v768/Pet-Population-Owner-Trends-Fish-7293463/
2 (October 18th, 2005) http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/body/fish-surgery.html