Blog: Center for the Science of Animal Care and Welfare

Performing Surgery on a Fish

CZS veterinary staff performed surgery on a fish

Did you know you can do surgery on a fish?

Yesterday morning we anesthetized muskie, walleye and largemouth bass and performed surgery to place radio transmitters. This effort was part of long-term study that is helping the Forest Preserve of Cook County biologists track the fish to learn how they use their habitat and where they spawn. This information is crucial to helping improve ecosystem health and ensures that the fish populations flourish in our forest preserves.

CZS veterinary staff performed surgery on a fish

We sedated the fish using an anesthetic that is dissolved in water. Once the fish reach a deep level of anesthesia they are measured, weighed and positioned on their back; all the time receiving water over their gills so they can breathe. We closely monitor the fish’s heart rate and respiratory rate during the procedure, which typically takes less than 20 minutes. A small incision is made on the underbelly through which the radio transmitter is placed. This site is sutured and the fish is moved to the recovery tank. The fish are held in large lake pens until they have recovered, after which time they are returned to the forest preserve. The fish can then be tracked using the unique frequency of each transmitter to identify individuals and their location.

Dr. Jennifer Langan
Senior Staff Veterinarian – Brookfield Zoo
Clinical Associate Professor - University of Illinois, College of Veterinary Medicine

Posted: 5/8/2015 10:14:36 AM by Filed under: animal welfare, fish surgery, Forest Preserve of Cook County

Center for the Science of Animal Care and Welfare

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