Angelfish Gets CT Scan

Lisa Selvaggio
by Lisa Selvaggio

Most people probably assume that it wouldn’t be possible to have a fish undergo a CT scan, but that’s exactly what happened to a fish at Denver Zoo.

Peter Leahy/Shutterstock

A blue and yellow French angelfish wasn’t swimming normally, and when animal care specialists noticed the behavior, they quickly took action. The Denver Zoo has a hospital on-site – the Helen and Arthur E. Johnson Animal Hospital – where they’re able to perform CT scans and ultrasounds, so they got to work on examining what was going on inside the beautiful fish to figure out what was causing it to swim with a tilt.

An Ultrasound and a CT Scan To Help a Fish

To conduct the ultrasound, the veterinary team kept the sedated fish in some water, and took steps to ensure its safety while being handled. When the ultrasound images showed abnormalities, they wanted to investigate further with a CT machine.

The colorful angelfish only measures about seven inches, so the team had to be strategic to scan it using a machine that’s typically used for much larger land animals. While the fish was sedated, they were able to place it on a sponge in a plastic container to keep its body upright. And, to prevent the angelfish from suffocating, they kept pouring water over its gills during the procedure.

The zoo shared images of the angelfish getting the ultrasound and CT scan, as well as images captured by the scan. You can check them out by visiting Denver Zoo’s Instagram post and Facebook post.

The Diagnosis and the Treatment

Thanks to the CT scan, the experts were able to conclude that the fish was suffering from inflamed intestines, a condition known as enteritis. This caused it to develop too much gas that then impacted its buoyancy, causing it to swim abnormally.

The good news is that the fish was able to be treated, and the solution was antibiotics. Before long, it recovered and started swimming normally again, so the zoo staff placed it back in its home in the zoo’s Tropical Discovery building, which houses fish, amphibians, reptiles, and other amazing animals.

Watch this video to learn more about this story:

Lisa Selvaggio
Lisa Selvaggio

Lisa Selvaggio is a freelance writer and editor, and our resident cats-pert, with certifications in pet nutrition and pet first aid. She enjoys producing content that helps people understand animals better so they can give their pets a safe and happy home.

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