Thursday, May 12, 2011

A Fish Story


Lately, a few astute and caring guests have noticed that the fish in the Tropical Butterfly House seemed a little under the weather. What they did next reminded us why we love our visitors and what a small world it is.



We feel lucky to have a wonderful veterinarian in Dr. Maas at The Center for Bird and Exotic Animal Medicine. As it turns out, some of our visitors also know Dr. Mass, and cared enough about our animals to mention the fish to him. Meanwhile we were making the same observations, and trying to strategize how to help get the fish get back into peak condition.


Luckily, we had already scheduled our semi-annual house call from our fine veterinarians. But with a week to go until that exam, our concern was growing and we wanted to get a head start on the fishes’ recovery. We also wanted our fish to have a private area with a lower light level to hasten their recovery. In the absence of a large, off exhibit tank, we improvised a hospital out of a large, clean plastic trash receptacle. In it, we circulated the water using the emergency backup pump from the axolotl cage. There the fish were treated to warmer water with salt solution and medication.


Because he was tipped on the problem with the fish, Dr. Maas arrived at our scheduled appointment with a net in hand, ready to help with the fish. He commented that the higher than usual salt concentration, good pH, and the added heat, probably helped get the fish down the road to recovery. Our goal now is to get the water quality high enough that their own healing process can finish their cure. Unfortunately, ammonia levels in a smaller tank build up more quickly than our filter could process. Dr. Maas found the fish to be near the peak of the ammonia development stage in the nitrogen cycle and gave us suggestions for bringing the levels down faster.


The fish are recovering swiftly and should be back on exhibit within days.

The rest of the exam went ‘swimmingly’. Most of our collection is in exceedingly good health. We always learn a lot whenever Dr. Maas visits. Be on the lookout for more articles about some of the other fascinating news we’ve learned about our animals (because there’s always more)!


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